Using blood-sucking leeches to cleanse and detoxify: Demi Moore
Demi Guynes Kutcher known professionally as Demi Moore, is an American actress, film producer, film director, former songwriter, and model. Moore dropped out of high school at age 16 to pursue an entertainment career, and posed for a nude pictorial in Oui magazine in 1980. After making her film debut in 1981, she appeared on the soap opera General Hospital and subsequently gained attention for her roles in Blame It on Rio (1984) and St. Elmo’s Fire (1985). Her first film to become both a critical and commercial hit was About Last Night… (1986), which established her as a Hollywood star.
In 1990, Moore starred in Ghost, which was the highest-grossing film of that year and brought her a Golden Globe nomination. She had a string of additional box-office successes over the early 1990s with A Few Good Men (1992), Indecent Proposal (1993), and Disclosure (1994). In 1996, Moore became the highest-paid actress in film history when she was paid a then-unprecedented fee of $12.5 million to star in Striptease. The high-profile disappointment of that film as well as her next, G.I. Jane (1997), was followed by a lengthy hiatus and significant downturn in Moore’s acting career, although she has remained a subject of substantial media interest during the years since.
Moore took her professional name from her first husband, musician Freddy Moore, and is the mother of three daughters from her second marriage to actor Bruce Willis. She married her third husband, actor Ashton Kutcher, in 2005, and separated from him in November 2011.
Demi Moore admitted on US television show David Letterman to applying leeches (yes, that’s right) directly to her skin in order to detoxify her blood and get skin glowing for special events. Some plastic surgeons reportedly use a similar procedure on post-surgery patients. Um, we might stick to a healthy diet and exercise regime in order to get the same glow.
Demi Moore recently used blood-sucking leeches to “cleanse” and “detoxify,” she said during an appearance Monday on “The Late Show With David Letterman.”
“I’ve always been somebody looking for the cutting edge of things that are for optimizing your health and healing, so just a week ago I was in Austria doing a cleanse and part of the treatment was leech therapy,” she told Letterman.
“These aren’t just swamp leeches, these are highly trained medical leeches,” she said. “These are not just some low-level scavengers; we’re talking high-level blood-suckers.”
Moore said they tested a leech on her belly button before putting several others on different areas of her body. She also said the worms are a fan of a certain type of grooming.
“Leeches don’t like hair, they much prefer a Brazilian,” she said.
Moore said she came away from the treatment feeling good.
“It detoxifies your blood,” she told Letterman. “And they have a little enzyme that when they’re biting down on you, gets released into your blood and generally you bleed for quite a bit. And your health is optimized. It detoxified the blood and I’m feeling detoxified right now.”
While on the talk show circuit to promote her new diamond-heist film, “Flawless,” Demi Moore has also taken to promoting her recent experience with leech therapy, which she underwent in Austria as part of a so-called “cleanse.” The 46-year-old actress told Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripa on “Live With Regis & Kelly,” that with leeches, “They apply them to your body, and they suck your blood. They detoxify your blood.” But while it’s clear that the leeches do suck out some blood, it is equally clear, at least to me, that they don’t “detoxify” it. How could they? How could the removal of a small amount of blood, even if it were full of “toxins” serve to detoxify the remainder?
Ms. Moore told David Letterman on “The Late Show with David Letterman” that “…they have a little enzyme that when they’re biting down on you, gets released into your blood and generally you bleed for quite a bit. And your health is optimized. It detoxified the blood, and I’m feeling detoxified right now.” Again, she’s partly right. Leeches do release a variety of enzymes that inhibit blood-clotting, which enables them to suck until they are full and which actually makes it a bit difficult to staunch the bleeding even after they are done (at least until the enzyme’s effects have dissipated). But the enzymes only act at the immediate bite site and are not absorbed into the bloodstream (think about it – if the anti-coagulant effects were systemic throughout the body, the bite would quickly bleed to death internally). So if a leech uses a bit of local anti-coagulant to help it suck out some blood, and doesn’t either return that blood or inject any other material into the body, how does it produce detoxification let alone optimal health? The obvious answer is that it doesn’t – regardless of what the actress believes or was told to believe.
There is, however, a legitimate use of leeches in modern medicine. And, presumably, Ms. Moore and the other devotees of blood-letting, are misinterpreting this use and adorning it with magical properties they wish were true (not uncommon with many alternative therapies). Since leeches are effective blood suckers, they are employed, primarily by plastic surgeons, in situations where there is reduced ability of blood to drain from a wound. This is a particular problem when surgeons reattach severed fingers or toes or do other skin graft surgery where they can sew up the arteries that supply blood but can’t do the same for the tiny veins that drain the blood. This results in blood build up called congestion, which causes swelling and pain and can lead to tissue death and loss of the graft.
In fact, in 2004 the FDA officially approved the use of leeches as medical devices. In an FDA talk paper issued at the time of leech approval, Rod J. Rohrich, M.D., president of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and chairman of the Department of Plastic Surgery at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center said: “The idea behind the leeches is to cause blood to ooze so that the body’s own blood supply will eventually take over and the limb can go on and survive.” Today, a number of companies routinely supply specially raised leeches (to ensure quality control, sanitation and especially to keep them hungry!) to hospitals across the country and around the world.
Leech therapy is not without some risks, even under the best of conditions. In addition to possible excessive bleeding and blood loss, there is also the possibility of allergic reactions, foreign body reactions, ulceration and infection. Even farm-raised medical leeches can harbor bacteria and other microorganisms that can be transmitted into the patient. It is therefore recommended that all patients undergoing leech therapy receive broad-spectrum antibiotics to reduce the chance of infection.
One can only hope that leech therapy will remain under the purview of licensed medical practitioners who use it for legitimate therapeutic or research purposes under controlled conditions and that its use in so-called detoxification will be limited to a small cadre of true believers at the extreme fringes of alternative medicine.
The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.