How is leech used in ayurvedic leech therapy for blood circulation?

Blood is considered as the ‘fluid of life’ because it carries oxygen from the lungs to all parts of the body and carries carbon dioxide from all parts of the body to the lungs. We are going to discuss “How is leech used in ayurvedic leech therapy for blood circulation?”

Blood is also known as ‘fluid of growth’ as it carries all nutritive substances which are needed by the body for normal health from the digestive system and hormones from the endocrine gland to all the tissues in the body.

These work together for maintaining the normal function in the body. The blood is also called the ‘fluid of health’ as it protects the body against the various diseases and also helps in the removal of waste products and unwanted substances from the body.

In a normal adult, the average volume of blood is about 5 L. In a newborn baby, the volume is 450 ml. It increases during growth and reaches 5 L at the time of puberty. In females, it is slightly less and is about 4.5 L.

The important role of blood in the body.

  • Nutritive function: – Nutritive substances like glucose, amino acids, lipids and vitamins which are obtained from digested food are absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract, after which it is carried by the blood to different parts of the body for the normal growth and for production of energy in the body.
  • Respiratory function: – Transport of respiratory gases is done by the blood. It carries oxygen from alveoli of lungs to different tissues and carbon dioxide from tissues to alveoli.
  • Excretory function: – Waste products formed in the tissues during various metabolic activities are removed by blood and carried to the excretory organs like kidney, skin, liver, etc. for excretion.
  • Transport of hormones and enzymes: – Hormones that are secreted by ductless (endocrine) glands are released directly into the blood. The blood transports these hormones to their target organs/tissues. Blood also transports enzymes.
  • Regulation of water balance: – Water content of the blood is freely interchangeable with interstitial fluid. This helps in the regulation of the water content of the body.
  • Regulation of acid-base balance: – Plasma proteins and hemoglobin act as buffers and help in the regulation of acid-base balance.
  • Regulation of body temperature: – Blood has high specific heat, which is responsible for maintaining the thermoregulatory mechanism of the body, which means the balance between heat loss and heat gain in the body.
  • Storage function: – Water and some important substances like proteins, glucose, sodium, and potassium are constantly required by the tissues and during the conditions like starvation, fluid loss, electrolyte loss, etc these substances are taken from blood.
  • Defensive mechanism: – Blood plays an important role in the defense of the body. The white blood cells are responsible for this function. Neutrophils and monocytes engulf the bacteria by phagocytosis. Lymphocytes are involved in the development of immunity.

Causes for poor circulation of blood in the body

Here are some causes of poor circulation of blood in the body:-

  • Blood clot: – Blood clot produces blockage in the normal flow of blood in the body. It can develop any part of the body but mostly seen in the extremities (both upper and lower) due to which the poor circulation of blood to the part occurs. There are many causes that are responsible for developing a blood clot. If the blood clot is big in size it can break into small pieces that can circulate in the body and can lodge even in the heart and lungs. This can produce severe problems in health.
  • Peripheral arterial diseases: – In this disease narrowing of the arterial wall takes place which causes poor circulation in the body. This condition is seen associated with atherosclerosis, where deposition of plaque occurs in the arteries of the heart which decreases the flow of blood to the body parts. The commonly involved artery is the carotid artery.
  • Varicose veins: – Varicose veins caused to decrease the function of valves present in the veins, as a result, the blood which has to flow against the gravity fails and engorgement of the veins occurs. This condition is mostly seen in lower extremities and is one of the common causes of poor circulation of blood.
  • Diabetes: – Patients with diabetes mellitus are at the risk of developing diabetes neuropathy, heart diseases, atherosclerosis, and hypertension. All these conditions affect the normal circulation of blood in the body.
  • Raynaud’s disease: – In this condition narrowing of the small arteries of hands and toes occurs which causes poor circulation to the areas. This condition presents in those people who are continuous exposure to the cold climate.

Symptoms of poor circulation in the body

These includes: –

  • Numbness with a tingling sensation in the affected body parts
  • Throbbing and stinging pain.
  • Intermittent claudication
  • Severe pain and muscle cramps

Treatment

The main aim of the treatment to restore the condition which is responsible for causing poor circulation in the body.

Leech therapy for blood circulation

Leech therapy is used since ancient times to relieve the venous congestion which improves the poor circulation in the body. Many records has shown that since the middle age leeches are used by German and Egypt for the purification of blood by the method of bloodletting.

With the advancement in the treatment and microsurgery, few complications has come in front of the doctors which is difficult to treat, like venous congestion after any surgery of reconstructive surgeries which cause decreased venous drainage and this condition can lead to a blood clot.

To treat with this situation leech therapy is used which causes purification of blood by removing the blood clot.

Need for therapy to regulate the blood circulation

Leech therapy is given in patients who have poor circulation of blood due to decreased venous drainage. With this, leech therapy is also given in the patient who has congestion in any part due to the formation of the blood clot.

Leeches remove the clot which leads to the normal circulation of the blood and hence prevents tissue death which is caused due to insufficient blood circulation.

Leech saliva contains many bioactive components hirudin, calin, antihistamin vasodilators, anti-inflammatory compounds and anesthetic compounds which prevent blood from clotting and maintain the normal blood circulation.

procedure for leech therapy for blood circulation

Before applying leech on the area, the part should be washed thoroughly with sterile water. Many protocols are present in which it is said that if gauze soaked in heparin is used on the skin before leech therapy than it prevents blood clotting and promotes free bleeding.

Now leech is taken and applied on the skin. If the attachment is not done than a small prick can be done on the skin with a sterile needle so that a small droplet of blood comes out with help in attachment of leech on the skin. To prevent the separation of the leech, dampened gauze can be used to cover the leech so that the leech movement will be restricted.

Leech once attached it will take approximately 40-45 minutes for its detachment. Leech should not be forcibly detached.

 After leech therapy, the oozing of the blood can occur for about ten hours. During this time when bleeding occurs, the skin should be washed properly to prevent the formation of blood clots.

During the treatment, all vital signs should regularly observe, color and appearance of the blood and any clinical condition should also be observed.

Benefits and side-effects of leech therapy for blood circulation

Here are the benefits and side effects:-

Benefits

  • Leech therapy prevents the formation of blood clots.
  • Leech therapy has anticoagulant properties.
  • Hirudin present in leech saliva inhibits the conversion of fibrinogen into fibrin which prevents blood from clotting.
  •  Hirudin also works as a vasodilator which helps in increasing the flow of blood.
  • Leech saliva also contains an anesthetic compound. That is why this therapy is painless.

Side-effects

  • Bleeding in the patient can be severe which can produce anaemia.
  • If bleeding is severe, blood transfusion has to be done.
  • Bacteria that are present in leech produce severe infection.
  • Few peoples are allergic to active components of the leech.

Contraindications

  • Patients who are medically unstable
  • A patient who had previous allergic reactions to leech therapy
  • A patient who is immunosuppressive
  • Patient with heart diseases.

Hirudotherapy or leech therapy has worked in those situations where the doctor fails to give the proper treatment for a normal and healthy life.

Patients who are taking leech therapy are also advised to take prophylactic treatment which will prevent the patient from infections. Today leech therapy has effective results which are seen in many of the cases where modern medicine has not given results.

Leech therapy given to the patient of poor circulation has effectively increased the blood circulation by removing the blood clot and proving blood to the damaged cells and tissues.

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