Andhra Pradesh

Andhra Pradesh: Guru-Sishya Parampara to promote ancient ‘leech therapy’

M. Bhaskar Rao, who has been designated as a ‘Guru’ by the Rashtriya Ayurved Vidyapeeth, performing leech therapy on a patient.

M. Bhaskar Rao, who has been designated as a ‘Guru’ by the Rashtriya Ayurved Vidyapeeth, performing leech therapy on a patient.

Using leeches to treat a plethora of ailments as prescribed in Ayurveda is gaining prominence as an accepted procedure across the globe. Medicinal Leech Therapy (MLT), also known as Hirudotherapy, has a mention in the ‘S ushruta Samhita’, a 3,000-year-old treatise on medicine and surgery, M. Bhaskar Rao, retired vice-principal of Sri Venkateswara Ayurvedic College has said.

Dr. Rao, who is considered an expert in the field, says that Hirudo medicinalis, belonging to the phylum Annelida, is used as ‘medicinal leech’ and it can be used in treatment of chronic eczema, non-healing ulcers, dermatitis, varicose veins, thrombotic piles, diabetic foot and some auto-immune disorders.

Referring to treatment methods, he says the leeches are first dropped into water laced with turmeric and later kept on the affected portion of the human body. The leech moves around the area, selects the place where to begin from and secretes some of the 36 proteolytic enzymes available in its saliva, facilitating its release into the systemic circulation to counter the disease morbidity.

“Sushruta advises this treatment for inflammatory lesions, cystic lesions and tumorigenesis if the affected area is palm-sized. The weekly process is repeated for five to ten weeks depending on the chronicity of the disorder and pathology,” explains Dr. Rao.

Dr. Rao has been designated as a ‘Guru’ by the Rashtriya Ayurved Vidyapeeth (RAV), functioning under the Union Ministry of AYUSH, to disseminate ancient and traditional knowledge under the ‘Guru-Sishya Parampara’.

His Sishyas Bhupendra Rathore, Prarit Goyal and Julie Joseph, allotted randomly by the RAV from across India, are thrilled to learn the subject.

‘High demand abroad’

“The irony is that most disorders are referred to Ayurvedic practitioners only after consulting general physicians, dermatologists and even surgeons,” rues Dr. Rao.

The therapy is in great demand in the U.S.A. as it is used post-grafting in plastic surgery procedures to enhance circulation and improve permeability of blood flow. Also, it is used for congestive cardiac failure (CCF) cases to regulate the heart beat and relieve coronary artery blocks, he says.

“The therapy has been recognised by the American Surgical Association and the procedure approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), U.S.A.,” says Dr. Rao, the co-author of ‘Leech therapy in Ayurveda’, a prescribed textbook for post-graduate students.


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Printable version | Jul 4, 2022 12:55:10 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/andhra-pradesh-guru-sishya-parampara-to-promote-ancient-leech-therapy/article65328936.ece