Post-auricular leech therapy reduced headache & migraine days in chronic migraine
Background: Migraine is an exceedingly common disorder that causes substantial pain, disability and societal burden. Unfortunately, conventional treatments are insufficient, inadequate, or associated with significant risks, such as overuse, abuse or addiction. The Unani system of Medicine has been treating migraine since centuries. Leech therapy (Irsale Alaq) has been employed successfully in severe persistent headache, mania and insomnia since decades.
Aim: The purpose of our study was to evaluate the impact of post auricular leech therapy in migraine and to collect data to warrant further clinical trials.
Methods: We conducted a case series on 7 patients who had failed conventional oral treatments for the migraine. After informed consent, post auricular leech therapy was done. Patients were asked to keep detailed headache calendars, documenting the number of headache days, migraine days, the intensity of headaches/ migraines and analgesic usage. We compared these parameters before and after 2 months of therapy.
Results: We observed a reduction in the number of headache & migraine days and amount of painkillers used without any adverse effects. (P≤ 0.01) Improvement in quality of life was also observed.
Discussion: We reviewed the literature related to the medicinal leeches (Hirudo medicinalis), used for the treatment in these cases. Leech saliva contains certain potent anesthetic, anti-inflammatory and vasodilator substances, suggesting plausible mechanisms of action in these cases.
Conclusion: The preliminary findings indicate the safe and potential therapeutic role of leech therapy. So further trials should be carried out to explore the therapeutic potential of this therapy in chronic migraine.
Keywords: Chronic Migraine, leech therapy, hirudo medicinalis, headache, Unani Medicine, complementary Medicine.
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