They may look hideous and induce a wave of nausea.
But the fact remains that they enhance the natural process of wound healing in humans. Their saliva has an enzyme - Hirudin, which is considered to be the best anti-coagulant needed to prevent and dissolve blood clots. They are nature’s gift to improve blood circulation in human body. And to top it off, their use was first discovered by Sushruta probably between 800 and 1,000 B.C.
The recognition of the myriad medicinal advantages of leech, scientifically known as Hirudo medicinalis, is reflected by the steadily rising number of patients at B.R.K.R. Government Ayurvedic Hospital. This treatment is the last hope for patients who have been advised by allopathic doctors to opt for amputation of the affected limbs.
“My right foot is infected and doctors advised me to amputate it. They said that most of the blood vessels in the region are dead and it is better to amputate. I have come here with the hope of saving my limb,” says Rama Krishna, a resident of Jeedimetla, who has come to the Ayurvedic Hospital for leech treatment.
Leech therapy is based on the Ayurvedic principle of Rakta Mokshana (blood letting). “Removing impure blood from the infected region will restore circulation. The therapy is good for all kinds of skin disorders, allergies, vascular diseases, spleen enlargement and healing septic wounds. The therapy enhances healing with a natural process,” says S. Saranga Pani, professor and HOD, Shalya (Surgery), Dr. B.R.K.R. Government Ayurvedic College and Hospital.
The actual treatment process is based on sound scientific principles. Not all leeches are medicinal and the actual treatment process needs a lot of preparation before the leech is unleashed for blood letting. Before using the leech, they have to be treated.
“Before the therapy, they are first put in turmeric solution. Turmeric has anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties. The cleansing of leech starts in turmeric solution. Whatever poisonous substances are present inside the leech comes out in turmeric water,” explains Dr. Saranga Pani.