Leech therapy to cure baldness, alopecia and other hair related problems has been documented since ancient times. There have been vivid illustrations in Egyptian tombs from 1500 B.C, depicting leech therapy being done on patients.
Sanskrit, Persian and Chinese literature too have references about Hirudotherapy. Ancient Indian pioneers of medical science including Charak, Sushruta, Vagbhata have all written about how leeches must be used for blood purification.
Understand Leech therapy Working
Medicinal leeches have three jaws with tiny rows of teeth. They pierce a person’s skin with their teeth and insert anticoagulants through their saliva. The leeches are then allowed to extract blood, for 20 to 45 minutes at a time, from the person undergoing treatment. This equates to a relatively small amount of blood, up to 15 milliliters per leech.
In the process of Raktamokshana (blood purification), leeches tend to suck out Dooshit Rakt (impure blood) from Shuddh Rakt (pure blood). Baldness and other hair related diseases are primarily caused due to poor blood circulation in the scalp. Pure and fresh blood carries ample oxygen and ferritin, which is an iron-storing protein responsible for hair growth. Moreover, they eat away any fungus or bacterial activity developing on the scalp and hair. In several cases, fungal infection is the primary cause of hair loss and other problems like dandruff, itching, alopecia etc.
The salivary glands of marine leeches have an amazing combination of medicinal secretions that boost circulation of pure blood and letting out ‘toxins’. In the traditional method, sanitized marine leeches were made to suck on the patient’s scalp. Going through this therapy is not possible for everyone now a day, hence, leech oil has emerged as an effective alternative. However, leech therapy is seeing a revival due to its simple and inexpensive means of preventing complications.
During a session, live leeches attach themselves to the target area and draw blood. They release the proteins and peptides that thin blood and prevent clotting. This improves circulation and prevents tissue death. The leeches leave behind small, Y-shaped wounds that usually heal without leaving a scar.
Candidates for Leech Therapy
There are several situations in which leech therapy may be used. People who may benefit include those who risk limb amputation due to the side effects of diabetes, those who have been diagnosed with heart disease, and those who are undergoing cosmetic surgery in which they risk the loss of some of their soft tissue. The therapy has also been recommended to treat blood clots and varicose veins.
People with anemia, blood clotting conditions, or compromised arteries are not candidates for leech therapy. Children under the age of 18 years old and women who are pregnant are also usually advised to avoid it.
Leeches are effective at increasing blood circulation and breaking up blood clots. It should be no surprise that they can be used to treat circulatory disorders and cardiovascular disease.