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Woman uses leeches to treat various health issues

A local Pahrump woman uses an alternative form of medicine to treat various health issues that involve creatures normally avoided, and even feared.

Vanda Platunov works with leeches in a practice called hirudotherapy, a Food and Drug Administration approved treatment, to help those with different blood issues, cancers and even cosmetically throughout the United States.

A leech produces certain chemicals that helps thin blood in humans, making it useful for various health issues. The practice has been around since 1884, and the FDA made it a requirement for leeches raised after 1976 to be approved by the agency.

“Unlike traditional medicinal practices, leech therapy does not have side effects, which helps patients in their recovery,” Platunov said.

Graduating from the Academy of Hirudotherapy, which has campuses in Las Vegas, Los Angeles and New York, Platunov is a certified practitioner of hirudotherapy.

Platunov’s patients are all from outside of Pahrump, which means she spends half of her time traveling to meet patients.

“I spend 50 percent of my time on travel,” she said. “Most of my patients are in Los Angeles.”

If a demand presents itself in town, Platunov would be interested in treating patients locally, but as it stands, that is not the case.

Generally, Platunov treats a patient several times over the course of a year, to get the full effect of the treatment.

“Treatments last for a long time, as long as patients are willing to follow my advice about a healthy lifestyle,” Platunov said. “Average treatment varies due to the individual based on the problem, age, etcetera.”

Platunov treats a variety of ailments, but there are ones that she tends to treat more than others.

“Most of my patients are heavy weight, (have) heart conditions, body-wide pain, hemorrhoids, migraines, and chronic fatigue syndrome.”

No matter what the medical issue a patient might have, Platunov aims to treat the entire person and their body, not just what is affecting their health.

“I don’t treat each problem individually, I treat the whole person by restoring homeostasis (balance),” she said.

There are over 5,000 species of leeches, but only two are approved for use for medicinal purposes.

“Hirudo medicinalis and hirudo verbena, this is only two types you can use (for medical purposes),” she said.

Leech therapy is effective in surgery, especially dealing with skin grafts, as they improve blood circulation on the treated site, increasing the effectiveness of the process once complete Plantunov noted.

Despite the creepiness one might get out of a small creature sucking blood from them while they are awake, no one has ever backed out of a treatment.

“No, my patients have never freaked out,” Platunov said.

If you are intersted in hirudotherapy you can contact Vanda Platunov at 323-841-3777.

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