So, we’ll spare you the “hipsters and their old time-y trends!” jokes, and get right to the squirm-y point of this post: a doctor in Greenpoint is offering up leech therapy, and people are actually going.
As part of a larger piece on the surprising 21st-century prevalence of leeching, the Guardian spoke extensively with Andrew Plucinski, a 58-year-old Polish immigrant and leech therapist who runs the Silesian Holistic Center out of Greenpoint. Unsurprisingly, he is… quite a character:
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“Pharos were cured with leeches!” he booms. He reports that none of his clients have ever contracted an infection from a leech. Plucinski believes the only reason doctors object to a person like him using leeches is because he’s “robbing them of their Mercedes”, as leeching is a fraction of the price of traditional medicine.”
What does he call varicose vein surgery? “Extortion!”
Even the dermatologist Dr. Zizmor who advertises his acne cures all over the city’s subway cars doesn’t escape Plucinski’s growing wrath, “Moron! It’s all about cleaning the liver!”
Plucinski went on, “I have been accused of quackery, that I say leeches are good for everything. It’s not just me saying it, it’s the leech industry – which is huge! […] Leeches work on many different levels. You feel pain there, you put a leech there.”
And as it turns out, use of leeches is actually FDA-approved as a means of draining pooled blood post-surgery, and the Guardian quotes a Boston plastic surgeon as saying, “This is going to sound hokey, but it’s really a reflection of the majesty of nature.” Of course, the article also notes that leech therapy isn’t covered by insurance (Obama!!!) and quotes a different plastic surgeon who states the obvious: “You can get serious infections from leeches.”
Plucinski’s business model looks to be more old world holdover than precious back-to-basics trend; “85 percent of his clientele is foreign-born, from Russian housewives to Orthodox rabbis from Israel […] Some of them saw jars of leeches at pharmacies as children and remember sick relatives who were treated with leeches behind closed doors,” writes the Guardian.
Most services like this are hard to track down as their websites generally aren’t in English, but as you can tell, Plucinski is loud and proud about his practice. And if what he’s doing is technically legal, I guess that’s that. If you’d like to pay out-pocket-costs to have blood sucked out of your body in North Brooklyn, that option is now available to you.
Follow Virginia K. Smith on Twitter @vksmith.