Leech Therapy: Blood Purification Therapy for holistic healing
Leech therapy or hirudotherapy is a type of blood purification method that offers an effective natural way to detox the body. In this therapy, one or more blood-sucking leeches are attached to the skin of problematic area and the intention is to gain the potential benefit of leech saliva that is secreted while the leeches are feeding. Leech therapy has been used extensively for centuries by the Indians, Chinese, Arabic and Ancient Greek and the term leech is said to have been derived from the word ‘laece’, meaning physician.
Quashed ‘Pitta’ results in various diseases through blood, and its growth causes toxicity in the blood, thereby giving rise to various pitta-genic disorders. Here comes the use of this specialized Panchakarma treatment which entails the refinement of blood, and relieves a lot of tension generated by the pitta-genic toxins prevalent in the blood. The process of blood-letting spurs the spleen in order to produce anti-toxic substances that can stimulate the body’s immune system. Raktamoksha or leech therapy cures many types of blood-borne diseases, and Sparsh Ayurveda is one of the few centres in Indore that has been using the leech therapy for curative purposes.
During this therapy, medicinal leeches are applied over a part of the body. The leeches suck the impure blood while releasing certain enzymes in the bloodstream that help in the removal of harmful toxins and chemicals that have accumulated in the body over the time and purifies it completely. The influx of supportive enzymes in the body provides it with several beneficial compounds that help to enhance the immunity and healing power of the body. The therapy also restores the normal blood circulation and helps to remove the congested blood.
Lord Dhanvantari, who is known as the father of Ayurveda, is believed to have powers to prevent deadly and incurable diseases and has removed the ill effects of poison and snake bites. The knowledge and principles of Ayurveda taught by him are eternal pieces of truth and in-sync with the universal laws of nature. Lord Dhanvantari, who is an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, is sometimes depicted with four hands holding a pot of nectar, shankha, chakra, and a leech.
Leeches largely stimulate blood flow to those regions of the body where it has slowed or stopped, thus preventing tissue death. These days, with alternative and complementary treatments becoming more popular than ever, the alleged benefits of medicinal leeches have been substantially extended. The practice remains widespread in many parts of the world and is still used today by many medical professionals and healthcare experts like Sparsh Ayurveda to cure various acute painful and inflammatory conditions along with many blood-borne disorders. It continues to be used even after microsurgeries, such as plastic or reconstructive surgery.
Leech therapy works in the following manner:
Leeches are allowed to extract the blood from the patient for about 20-40 minutes during each session. Medicinal leeches have small rows of teeth and 3 jaws. As these teeth pierce the skin of the patients, the anticoagulant present in their blood, hirudin, is inserted into the body of the patients through the saliva of the leeches. The medicinal compounds released into the body perform a range of actions that help to treat the specific disorders the patient is suffering from. These compounds have analgesic, anti-inflammatory, platelet inhibitory, anticoagulant, and thrombin regulatory functions, as well as antimicrobial effects.
As leeches suck blood from the veins, they release a range of active compounds including local anesthetic which reduces pain and does not produce any kind of discomfort to the patient; local vasodilator which encourages blood flow in the region of the bite, anticoagulant agents or hirudin which ensures that blood does not clot as the leech feeds and platelet aggregation inhibitors which prevent platelets from sticking together as they do during wound healing.
Hirudotherapy or leech therapy is widely used in the treatment of several health conditions including atherosclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, infertility, hepatitis, cystitis, sinusitis, glaucoma, chronic renal failure, and many more. Some evidence suggests that chemicals extracted from leech saliva also help to counter cancer metastasis and relieve cancer-related pain.
Leech therapy can be beneficial for the treatment of hair loss and baldness, which has become a common hair condition today. The therapy works by increasing the blood circulation through the scalp and the hair roots, nourishing the hair roots, enhancing the hair growth and also rebuilding the immune system. The improved immunity imparted by leeches ensures the body can fight infective organisms effectively. The improved blood circulation into the scalp also enhances the supply and concentration of essential nutrients, which fortifies the hair follicles and promotes hair re-growth.
Hirudotherapy has become popular among youth for preserving the soft tissue after facial reconstructive surgery and promoting healing following plastic surgery. Leech treatment is shown to have improved the chances of positive outcomes in the reconstruction surgeries affecting the nose, breast, cheek, forehead, and the features. It stimulates improved blood circulation through the reconstructed part of the skin and ensures proper supply of proteins and nutrients to these parts. The increased flow of proteins to the surgical site aids in the healing of the skin tissues and restores the natural integrity of the skin within a short period of time.
Leeches provide a safe and effective treatment for the patients suffering from varicose veins which when used on or around the affected area and ulcers, helps to reduce hyperpigmentation, limb girth, and edema. It is believed to work through its ability to restore the normal blood flow through the veins of the legs, as it prevents pooling of blood into the legs by ensuring smooth blood flow from the legs towards the chest.
Leech therapy can be beneficial in the management of several skin disorders like psoriasis, cellulitis and eczema. According to Ayurveda, on the very first instance, leeches only suck the impure blood from the site of application, leaving aside the purified blood. This helps to eradicate the toxic impurities that could worsen the symptoms of infection and also work as a blood purification therapy. Later, however, the leeches start sucking the purified blood and help to eliminate the congested blood at the affected site and enable the normal circulation to return to the skin.
The saliva of leeches is filled with powerful compounds that can help to reduce wrinkles and related signs of aging. These biochemical enzymes cause dilation of the blood vessels in the body and restore the blood supply to the aging organs and tissues thus restoring their health. Leeches stimulate the production of collagen which plays a role in maintaining the elasticity of the skin and helps to prevent premature wrinkling of the skin.
Leech treatment can greatly help in preventing the complications of migraine and is likely to cause symptomatic relief in migraine headache sufferers. The secret is in the leeches’ saliva which contains several analgesic, anaesthetic, and blood-thinning compounds that tackle pain and inflammation. A substance found in leeches called Hirudin, acts as an anticoagulant, causing blood to become more diluted, thus allowing it to flow easier and faster.
Herpeszoster (like burning pain)
Leech therapy may exert some direct anti‑inflammatory and pain‑killing effects through the components present in the leech saliva. The strong sensory stimulus caused by the pain and burning sensation of the leech bite can alleviate the symptoms of the patient. Leech therapy is also beneficial in reducing pain, tenderness, stiffness, crepitus, and swelling in the patients of osteoarthritis. It can help avoid the hazards of prolong use of analgesic and anti-inflammatory drugs.
Leech therapy has been found to show excellent results in patients with Eczema, Psoriasis, chronic itching, acne, pain disorders, and other kind of skin infections. The purified blood helps the sense organs to work fast and in a powerful way. As a result, the person becomes healthy and happy.
While Leech therapy is a safe, easy to use, beneficial, and cost-effective treatment modality to save reattached body parts and flaps in reconstructive surgery, it is still poised with some risks. If something goes unplanned following a round of leech therapy, blood will ooze out of the area that has undergone treatment and the affected site of the leech bite will not close. Sometimes leeches will try to move to some other area of the body where treatment is not required, causing unnecessary blood loss. Sometimes, a patient might discover during or after leech therapy that she is allergic to leech saliva. Hence it is always advised to get leech therapy treatment done by a trained ayurvedic specialist.
Ayurveda continues to be the most ancient and most effective form of medical treatment to cure almost all types of chronic illness. Sparsh Ayurveda provides individualized health care consultation, panchkarma therapies and ayurvedic medicines along with knowledge of yoga asanas which help in curing the disease from the roots. The Indore based Ayurvedic treatment clinic established by Dr. Satish Agrawal offers Ayurvedic treatments and therapies to patients from all over India and treatment is supervised by a team of experienced healthcare experts, doctors including panchkarma specialist, nadi analysis specialists and yoga specialists who utilize the best ancient and modern western approaches to bring balance.