Leeches are used in the medical practice since ancient times to treat many diseases. It is a method in which localized impure blood is let out to heal the tissue. Leech therapy is Para-surgical treatment modality according to Ayurveda. Due to its therapeutic effects, this is successful even today. The description of using leech for therapy can be found in Sushruta Samhita written by Acharya Sushruta. He has described the nature of leeches, their habitat, the method of application, diseases indicated like Visarpa (Herpes), Skin diseases etc., in detail. Though there are hundreds leech species, only 15 are used for therapy. In the medieval ages, this was very popular. According to Ayurveda, Leech only sucks impure blood. Leech is used to relieve venous congestion and to improve blood circulation.
Indications: Skin diseases, Vascular Problems, Varicose Veins, Acne, Non-healing Ulcers, Diabetic wounds, Boils and abscess, Herpes, Thrombosis, Arthritis, Sciatica, Dermatitis, Psoriasis, Alopecia, etc..
Steps for application of Leech
- Snehana and swedana to the patient.
- Leech activation.
- Patient’s skin is cleaned.
- The leeches are applied.
- Cover the leech with wet cotton.
- Remove the leech once it has finished sucking the blood.
- Remove the blood from leech by inducing vomiting to the leech and then put back in fresh water container.
- The area should be cleaned and bandaged.
Mode of Action:
Leech have many distinct enzymes in its saliva, through which they act. The enzymes enter the blood through the place the leech sucks the blood. The most important is the Hirudin, which acts as an anti-coagulant. This leech enzymes also has the ability to stay in the blood and do vasodilation and further facilitate the blood supply to the surrounding tissue and prevent necrosis and healing. Some anti allergic factors ensure reduction in the lesions.