Leech Therapy Draws the First Blood

The sight of leech sucking your blood is not alluring, but the TTD-run S V Ayurvedic College is using it to suck out illness.

Published: 18th May 2014 06:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 18th May 2014 09:15 AM   |  A+A-


When all other forms of medicine fail, people turn to the traditional way which time and again has proved effective. One such traditional ayurvedic application, leech therapy, is coming to the rescue of several patients suffering from dermatological and blood vessel-related disorders.

“Initially, people don’t recognise traditional medicine and they opt for it only at the last stage. Several patients who approach us come at a stage when amputation is the only option. Majority of them, however, gets cured,” explains M Bhaskar Rao, Professor, Department of Shalyatantra in TTD-run Sri Venkateswara Ayurvedic College.

The ayurvedic college is one among the few institutes which is offering this traditional therapy. Rao, however, is optimistic that the traditional medicine and more particularly Jalukavacharanam (leech therapy) will gain more popularity in the coming days as it is cost-effective and also it does not have any side-effects. “It is best used for Buerger’s Disease or Thrombo-Angitis-Obliterans (TAO),” he says and adds the therapy can also be used for psoriasis, thrombotic piles, chronic dermatitis and other skin problems. Buerger’s Disease causes occlusion of small arteries and blood supply gets stopped leading to amputation of affected part at the final stage. Leech therapy, in short, is nothing but purification of blood, which plays a key role in treating dermatological and blood-vessel related disorders. “These leeches not only suck the impure blood but also leave behind their saliva, which contains enzymes that help to cure the disease,” explains Rao.

There are both poisonous and non-poisonous leeches but in India majority of them are non-poisonous and are found vastly in seas and murky waters. Explaining about what makes leeches so special, he says leeches are considered as the most intelligent animal. “It has the most intelligent nervous system. During the therapy, we place leeches on the body of the patient and it crawls straight to the infected area and sucks the impure blood,” he adds.

By sucking the impure blood, it reduces ulceration, resulting in increase of blood circulation. In the process, the leech also secretes proteolytic enzyme-filled saliva. Towards the end, turmeric is put at the mouth of the leech and it releases its grip in a second. Later, the leech vomits out the impure and effected blood. “This way, the leech can be stored and can be used again and again for the same patient which in one way is cost-effective,” he says.

But why is that the therapy, which can be an alternative to modern medicine and also costless, is not getting popular? Doctors say fund crunch and no encouragement on research is forcing the therapy to lag behind. Rao says, “Though slow, research is on to use it for treatment of other illness. Soon we will be using it to cure thyroid and osteoarthritis.”

Bad blood out

■ Leech therapy is coming to rescue of patients suffering from dermatological and blood vessel-related disorders.

■ It is best used for Buerger’s Disease or Thrombo-Angitis-Obliterans (TAO). It can also be used for psoriasis, thrombotic piles and chronic dermatitis.

■ The leeches suck the impure blood and leave behind their saliva, which contains enzymes that help to cure.


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