Leech therapy or hirudotherapy is the procedure of expelling impure blood from the body using medicinal leech. It is known as the most easy and convenient method of Blood Letting Therapy (Rakthamokshana), which is one among the Panchakarma procedures. Another name known for leech therapy in ancient procedures is Jalaukavacharana.
Leeches are also named as jalauka as the water is its life. As leeches emerges from water, lives in cold and is sweet due to which it is being used for blood letting when pitta is vitiated.
Types of Leeches –
Types of leeches: 12 types
▪︎ 6 Poisonous –
Krishna, Karbura, Alagardha, Indraudha, Samudrika, Gochandana
▪︎ 6 Non poisonous –
Kapila, Pingala, Sankhamuki (mouth resembling conch shell), Mooshika (resembling rat), Pundareekamuki (mouth resembling lotus), Savarika
Leech rearing (Jalauka poshana ) –
Leeches are placed in a big pot containing water of ponds or tanks along with their slit.
Food of leeches –
• Powder of algae
• Dried meat of acquatic animals and tubers
Straw, leaves of aquatic plants serve as bed for sleeping.
Changing of water and pot –
Water and food in the pot should be changed once in every three days and pot is changed once in every seven days.
Benefits of blood letting by using leech
• Most delicate therapy
• Its much easier to do the procedure
• Faster results
• Symptoms reduces magically
• Can be done over those people who are delicate in nature
• Acts on deeper layers of body
• Can be used for old , children , women , timid etc . As these persons are physically and mentally tender , no higher grade of therapies can be done on them. In such cases jalaukavacharana is highly effective.
• Complications are rare
• Cost effective in nature
Therapeutic Effects –
• Anti inflammatory
• Increases blood circulation
• Analgesic (reduces pain)
• Thromolytic (dissolves blood clot)
• Antimicrobial activity
Materials required for Leech therapy
• Cotton piece
• Jatyadi ghritam ( if needed)
Preparation of leech for therapy
• Leech should be transferred from the pot to a vessel containing fresh water.
• The leech should be cleaned well.
• Then leech is being transferred into a vessel containing water added with a pinch of turmeric. By this process the leech get activated.
• After leeches get activated, the leeches should be transferred from the water containing turmeric into another vessel containing fresh water.
Procedure of Leech therapy
Whole process of therapy is done step-by-step as told below –
• Person on which therapy is to be performed is made to sit / lie comfortably depending upon site over which leech is to be applied.
• The site of therapy should be cleaned with warm water using a cotton piece.
• The leech is taken out of the water and it is been kept over the site . The leech will attach to the site by itself within a few minutes.
☆ If the leech didn’t get attached by itself over the site , then a small drop of blood of the same patient can be dropped over the site. Otherwise a pick over the site can be done using the sharp instrument.when the blood start coming out of the site, the mouth part of leech can be kept near to the blood.
• The leeches being attracted towards blood will attach to the area by itself. When the leech get attached to the area , the leech will attain a horse shoe shape over the neck region. Then a thin cotton piece which is dipped in water is made to spread over the body of leech. The leech should not be disturbed till it detaches from the site by itself. Leech should be allowed to stay over the site for 45 min.
☆ If it didn’t detach by itself within 45 minutes / if any pain is created while sucking blood , then leech should be detached by putting a small pinch of turmeric over its mouth end as it is irritant towards turmeric, it will detach from the area within few seconds.
• After the detachment of the leech, person who had undergone the therapy as well as the leech should be taken care well.
• The site of leech bite should be cleaned well and the site should be packed with turmeric / jatyadhi ghritam and a mild bandaging should be done.
• The leech should be transferred to a vessel as soon as possible after the leech had detached from the site.
• Then leech should be made to vomit by adding a small pinch of turmeric over the mouth of leech. Due to the irritation, the leeches will start vomiting out the blood. A mild massage with 1 finger over the leech can be done from tail end till the mouth end. This will help the leech to vomit out the blood. As soon as the vomiting process is completed , the leech can be transferred to a vessel containing fresh water. Then the body of leech should be cleaned well with cotton piece dipped in water, so that it will be devoid of turmeric. later the leech can be transferred back to the pot.
☆ The same leech should not be used for another person. Therefore the leech which is used for a particular person should be kept separated from other leeches. Its better to name the pot and the date of usage should be noted over it. This will help us to prevent the diseases which are transmittable in nature.
Ideal time for Leech therapy –
Moderate season ( not too cold / not too hot) is the ideal time to perform Leech therapy.
Leech therapy gives fantastic results in lots of diseases which includes –
• Blood vitiated with pitta dosha
• Diabetic ulcers
• Varicose veins
• Vatarakta (Gout)
• Sciatica, lumbar spondylosis,
• Chronic skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis.
• Diseases of neck and eyes
☆ Children, old aged, frightful, debilitated, women and person with tender constitution
• The proper vomiting should be done for leech till it returns back to the normal size.
• No residue of turmeric should be there on the leech
• If there is pain during the course of therapy , just stop the treatment at once.
• Proper naming of pots ( name of person and date of last therapy) should be done to prevent the mixing up of leeches of one person with other person.
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