Interesting Research News: Leeches Help Relieve
Osteoarthritis Knee Pain?
In another return to ancient medical practices,
German clinicians reveal the success of leech therapy
for the treatment of osteoarthritis (OA) of the
In addition to the well-known anticoagulation
properties, leeching was traditionally used for
localized inflammation and pain, and various
anti-inflammatory substances have been identified in
Gustav Dobos, from the University of Duisburg-Essen
in Essen, and colleagues randomly assigned 51 patients
with knee OA to receive leech therapy (n=24, mean age
62.5 years), or topical diclofenac, twice daily for 28
days (n=27, mean age 65.5 years).
The leeching group received a single treatment with
4-6 locally applied Hirudo medicinalis to the
peri-articular soft tissue of the knee. The leeches were
left until they detached themselves, after an average of
Using the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities
Osteoarthritis Index, the team demonstrated that pain
fell from an average of 53.5 points to 19.3 points 7
days after leech treatment. In comparison, after 7 days
of topical diclofenac treatment, the pain score
decreased from 51.5 to 42.4 points.
Furthermore, although the pain relief did not remain
significantly better with leech therapy than with
diclofenac treatment after 7 days, the leech group did
experience significantly greater gains in function,
stiffness, and total symptoms than the diclofenac group
for up to 91 days. Quality of life differences between
the groups favored leech therapy for up to 28 days.
Conceding that patients were not blinded to the
interventions, Dobos et al recommend: "The
effectiveness and safety of this treatment, especially
when applied repeatedly, should be further evaluated in
larger randomized studies.
"In addition, the active compounds in leech
saliva and their local release (that is, in the synovial
fluid) deserve further study."
Noting no pharmacological agent has shown such long
lasting effects, the team concludes: "Further
research into the anti-inflammatory compounds of leech
saliva could lead to the development of new effective
substances for treating OA."
Original Study published in Ann Intern Med 2003;
Taking Calcium Supplements in Pregnancy Could Benefit
Calcium supplement taken during pregnancy could help
avoid children developing high blood pressure in later
life, research suggests.
The findings indicate that calcium supplements can
"program" lower blood pressure in children
while still in the womb.
The study involved 500 pregnant women who were given
either 2 g calcium or a dummy "placebo" pill
daily from early pregnancy until their children were
Dr. Daniel Hatton, from Oregon Health Science
University in Portland and his team found that babies
whose mothers received the supplement already had lower
blood pressure than the other babies when they were 6
months old, and that this was even more noticeable by
the time they reached 2 years of age.
The researchers say that their results confirm those
of other studies in the field, and that the findings
warrant more research on how calcium supplements during
pregnancy affect the blood pressure of children.
Source: EZorb Newsletter Editor
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Online by 11/21/03. We want to apologize again
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