leech therapy

What is Leech Therapy in Ayurveda?

Leech Therapy or Raktamokshana Jalouka Charana is a unique method of blood purification therapy. In Ayurveda, it is used in diseases of pitta and raktha. Rather than that, it has been also used to treat various other diseases through raktamokshan. Leech sucks only impure blood so it is a para surgical procedure in the surgical stream of Ayurveda. Leeches only sucks the impure blood from the infected part of the body. Most of us know that a leech is a worm that sucks blood, but not many of us know that it sucks only impure blood. In Ayurveda, leech application has been explained by Sushruta in the sixth century BCE. As Jala (water) is their life the leeches were called jalouka. In Ayurveda, it is also explained that leeches could be used to painlessly let out impure blood from affected areas.

medicinal leech therapy
Medicinal Leech

How do Leeches Purifies Blood?

Leeches remove clotted blood (congested blood) from delicate areas, such as from finger or toe or underneath a flap of skin. For this therapy, only medicinal leeches are used, medicinal leeches most often come from Sweden or Hungary. Medicinal leeches have three jaws with tiny rows of teeth. First of all, they pierce a person’s skin with their teeth and insert anticoagulants through their saliva. Then they are allowed for blood extraction, for 30 to 45 minutes at a time, from the person undergoing treatment. The leeches leave behind small Y shaped wounds that usually heal without leaving a scar. But, before you go for a leech therapy be sure to ask your doctor, health practitioner, or therapist. If you are suffering from below mentioned problems then you can ask your doctor about leech therapy.

What are the Safety Protocols of Leech Therapy?

There are strict protocols to be maintained before starting this therapy. Here I have listed them:

  • Firstly leeches are to be ordered from the pharmacy.
  • The patient is then advised by the doctor to take a proper seat appropriately according to the body part which will be treated or the part where the therapy shall be applied. 
  • Usually, it’s just one or maybe two leeches are to be used per session.
  • Thereafter doctor places the leech on the tissues where the therapy shall be conducted. It will wiggle around a bit looking for a good spot. Placing a small amount of D5 on the desired area will encourage the leech to begin feeding.
  • After that when it stops wiggling, it’s probably attached. Never squeeze or pull an attached leech. It may vomit the Aeromonas that live in its stomach which would increase the chances of infection. 
  • The doctor constantly examines the leech (every 5 minutes or so) to make sure that it’s still in place. You can expect the leech to stay in place for at least 30 minutes. 
  • Then after the leech sucks up the impure blood, then it is picked up and placed in a jar of 95% ethanol. This will euthanize it. It is to be returned to the pharmacy. 
  • After this therapy, the patient is then provided with the necessary medications along with anti-allergic medications. As some patients might have some allergic reaction after getting this therapy.
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Safety Protocols of Leech Therapy

11 Super Amazing Health Benefits of Leech Therapy

There are lots and lots of health benefits of this therapy, below I’ve stated all of them:

  1. Treats Cardiovascular Diseases – Since the early days of the 20th century, people have been using leeches to treat cardiovascular diseases because of the Hirudin enzyme in the leeches saliva, a substance that has systematic anticoagulative effects. When a person suffered a stroke or heart attack, physicians would usually prescribe the use of leeches.  
  2. May Treats Baldness and Alopecia – this therapy is known to increase blood circulation, increase of blood circulation helps enhance the delivery of nutrients that assist in making hair follicles strong. Thus it promotes hair growth. People suffering from alopecia caused by dandruff or fungal infections can also benefit through the antibacterial component in the leeches saliva, which fights fungal infection. 
  3. Helpful in Treating Arthritis – Firstly the arthritic joint is cleansed before medicinal leeches are placed on specific areas relating to the problem. There are approximately 600 species of leeches known worldwide and only 15 species are considered as medicinal leeches and used for arthritis and other problems. 
  4. May Cure Eye Diseases – This therapy can assist in the progression of this disease. The use of leeches to lessen the rate of blood flow to the eye lessens the production of vitreous humor and thus lessens the pressure inside the eye.
  5. May Treat Endometriosis – Women who are suffering from endometriosis, it is found that this therapy is beneficial to them. Once these enzymes have dissolved the blood clots and restored a normal flow of blood into the uterus, toxins are flushed away.
  6. Treats High Blood Pressure – It’s known through various studies that the saliva of leeches contains many beneficial enzymes that can help lower hypertension. 
  7. May Treat Migraine – As you already know there is a substance found in leeches called Hirudin. This substance is an anticoagulant, causing blood to become more diluted, thus it allows blood to flow faster and easier. So this therapy may treat migraines ideally. 
  8. Cures Varicose Veins – Leeches have been used successfully to treat varicose veins. Doctors in India have used the blood-sucking worms to cure the leg ulcers and swelling the result from the condition.  
  9. Helpful in Diabetes – As diabetes patients have viscous (thick) blood, which creates a higher risk of developing blood clots. Hirudin is one of the most important substances recognized in leech salivary glands. A substance that suppresses the blood clotting mechanism. 
  10. Treats Hepatitis – Liver is a very important organ of the human body, not only does it function to filter toxins from our body. But it also produces important enzymes, acts as a storage area for nutrients and vitamins, and helps maintain balance. This therapy has been used in the treatment of hepatitis and many other illnesses.
  11. May Treat Kidney Diseases – It has also been found that leech therapy can significantly help individuals to have healthier kidneys. The enzymes found in the leeches saliva can help prevent coagulation of the blood or thickening of the blood’s consistency.
4 Side Effects of Leech Therapy
  1. Infection – In some cases, it has been reported that Aeromonas hydrophila is the bacteria mostly associated with the infection.
  2. Leech Migration – Leech therapy should be continuously supervised. Leeches detach themselves and there is a risk of leech migration from the treatment area, possibly into body orifices or maybe deeper into the wound itself. They may enter the ear, mouth, nose, or perineum and attach to the tissue. 
  3. Anemia – Blood loss may have significant involvement with leech therapy. A large skin flap may require 200 or more leeches over a period of about 10 days. 
  4. Allergic Reaction – Medicinal leeches tend to cause fewer allergic reactions than leeches of other varieties encountered in the wild.
  • Red blotches on the skin or an itchy rash over the body.
  • Breathing difficulties, chest tightness, shortness of breath.
  • Swelling in the parts of the body away from the bitten area, especially around the eyes and the lips.
  • Lightheaded or dizziness.
Is Leech Therapy Safe?

Leech therapy has a lower risk of side effects than other therapies and is easy. However, there are some minor risks or side effects that I’ve discussed in the above section. Although the initial leech bite proved slightly painful to some of the patients. This therapy is still used today by many medical professionals. There are arrays of health benefits of using this therapy and each of them is unique. Since ancient times, leeches were used to treat many illnesses and diseases through bloodletting. Believe it or not, leech therapy is sometimes the best alternative in treating illnesses and even surpasses pharmacological treatments. This traditional method of curing diseases is still thriving today because of its healing effects on the human body. People with anemia, compromised arteries, blood clotting conditions, children under 18 years old, and women who are pregnant are usually advised to avoid it.

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