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Suck on this: Alexi Duggins endures leech therapy

Posted at 5:30 pm, January 19, 2014 in News
Leech Therapy

Every week, editor-at-large Alexi Duggins is at your mercy. This time you drew blood.

I’m a bloody mess. Literally. Gore is oozing from the back of my head and trickling down my neck. My clothes are spattered with crimson droplets. Panicked female colleagues are furiously Sellotaping tampons to my skull. Soon, I’m stained so red that I look like a Ribenaberry. But hey – it’s January. You have to try out at least one new health treatment.

This dramatic scene is the result of some serious leech therapy. You know: the ancient science of allowing slug-like creatures to sup your blood like Cup-a-Soup. But despite it being cooked up pre-Christ by doctors whose idea of a cutting-edge anaesthetic breakthrough was finding a bigger stick for patients to chomp on, a Harley Street clinic is bringing it into the twenty-first century. Because, according to the London Leech Therapy Clinic, leech saliva contains ‘anticoagulants, vasodilators, anaesthetics and antibiotics’ that can help with a range of conditions from rheumatism to acne. But only, apparently, if you’re nice to them.

‘The leeches understand you,’ says Maryam Rahbari, who runs the clinic. ‘If you don’t thank them, they won’t heal you, they’ll just take your blood.’ She slaps a pair of them behind my lugs, there’s mild pain as they pierce my skin, then Maryam takes my head in her hands.

‘We thank you, oh leeches,’ she intones, with a gravity befitting a Remembrance Sunday service. ‘And we thank you too, Almighty.’ She pauses for me to repeat her words, then goes silent, cradling my head, while we pray to the Great Leech in the Sky (or something).

‘Wow, they love you!’ says Maryam, coming out of her reverie to find the creepy crawlies slurping at my head as if it’s a giant Capri- Sun. So delicious am I that they’re dribbling saliva on to my shoulders. Initially they looked like little black matchsticks. Soon they’re so full of my blood that they’re the size of fingers. They’re so fat and heavy that they drop clean off me. Maryam binds cotton wadding to my wounds and tells me there may be bleeding.

Leech Therapy

I stagger woozily back to the office. Then a torrent of claret starts spurting from my bandages and… well, you’ve seen the gory results. But did it work? Kind of. I slept okay that night (weirdly, I felt quite weak). Didn’t last, mind. Granted, I could’ve have more sessions, which I bailed on. But on balance, I’d rather sleep badly than look like a bystander at a tomato explosion. Trust me to have that reaction to the treatment. As my teachers used to tell me, I am a daft litle bleeder.

For more information visit londonleechtherapy.com. Read more of Alexi’s adventures or tweet suggestions for his next task @Alexiduggins

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