Leech Therapy in Ayurveda
Raktamokshana or blood letting is one among the panchakarmas in Ayurveda. Blood letting is of two types- Sashtrakrita( using sharp instruments), and asashtrakrita( without using sharp instruments). Leech therapy(Jalookavacharana) is one among the asastrakrita type of blood letting.
Jalouka ( leech) has got its name since jal or water is its life. There are two main types of jalookas- savisha( poisonous) and nirvisha( non poisonous). Non poisonous ones have specific characteristics, and they are carefully selected from fresh water ponds for leech therapy.
INDICATIONS OF LEECH THERAPY
- Inflammatory conditions of eye
- Diabetic complications
- Venous ulcer
- Varicose veins
- Skin manifestations of vascular diseases
- Coagulation disorders
- Local pain or itching during treatment
- Vasovagal attacks
HOW DOES LEECH THERAPY WORK AND ITS ADVANTAGES
Leeches have analgesic, anti-inflammatory, platelet inhibitory, anticoagulant, and thrombin regulatory functions, as well as extracellular matrix degradative and antimicrobial effects.
Leech saliva contains hirudin, an anticoagulant and anti-platelet agent that works to prevent blood clots and reduce the amount of congested blood in the tissues. Other chemicals in leech saliva keep the blood flowing in the damaged area, even after the leech is detached, allowing time for new veins to grow and the existing ones to widen and accommodate more blood flow. As a bonus, the treatment is painless – when the leech bites, they release a naturally occurring anesthetic that numbs the area
PROCEDURE OF LEECH THERAPY
⦁ The area to be treated is wiped off any oil, cream or dirt, and is made dry for the leech to attach.
⦁ Appropriate leech is selected carefully and checked if it is fit for therapy; it is washed in water mixed with mustard and turmeric paste to relieve off any fatigue.
⦁ The leech is applied to the affected area; if it doesnot bite, a drop of blood or milk is dropped for easy appendage.
⦁ The leech withdraws on its own once it is full, or it is removed after 45min- 1 hr .
⦁ The area is bandaged with medicated ghee, and the leech is made to vomit all the impure blood,cleansed, and transferred to another container.
Raktamokshana or blood letting therapy is one of the most important way of detoxification in Ayurveda, and leech therapy is one among them. The main advantage is that it is painless , and hence can be used in feeble patients as well.