Leech Therapy

In the realm of traditional medicine, Ayurveda stands out as a holistic approach to health and wellness. One of the intriguing therapies within Ayurveda is leech therapy, a practice with roots reaching back centuries.


Ayurvedic leech therapy, also known as “Jalaukavacharana,” is an ancient therapeutic technique rooted in Ayurveda, the traditional Indian system of medicine. This unique treatment involves the controlled application of medicinal leeches to specific areas of the body for therapeutic purposes. The leeches, carefully chosen for their medicinal properties, are believed to possess enzymes and bioactive substances that can help improve blood circulation, alleviate congestion, and reduce inflammation. Ayurvedic leech therapy is often used to address various health conditions, including skin disorders, joint pain, and circulatory issues. It is considered a holistic approach to healing, aiming to restore balance to the body by promoting detoxification and enhancing the natural healing processes.

Role of Leech Therapy in Ayurveda

In Ayurveda, various therapies aim to eliminate toxins from the body, and some of these are categorized under Panchakarma. These include Vamana (for Kapha), Virechana (for Pitta), Basti (for Vata), and Nasya (for upper body cleansing). However, when there are impurities in the blood, such as toxins, chemicals, and doshas, the aforementioned Panchakarma therapies may not be sufficient. This is where Raktamokshana therapy comes into play. Raktamokshana directly removes impure blood, promoting the formation of new and pure blood within the body. Although Raktamokshana is a intense and invasive therapy, it may not be suitable for everyone with blood impurities. That’s why Ayurveda introduces Leech therapy, which effectively removes blood toxins using a minimally invasive technique. Leech therapy is considered safe and beneficial for various blood and skin-related disorders.   

Mechanism of Action

The mechanism of action of leech therapy involves a combination of physical and biochemical processes. When leeches are applied to the skin, they release saliva containing a complex mixture of bioactive substances. These substances have anticoagulant, vasodilator, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic properties.

  • Anticoagulation: Leech saliva contains hirudin, an anticoagulant that inhibits blood clotting. This prevents the formation of clots in the blood, ensuring the continuous flow of blood during feeding.
  • Vasodilation: Leech saliva contains vasodilators like histamine, calin, and destabilase. These substances dilate blood vessels, increasing blood flow to the site of feeding. Improved blood circulation aids in the removal of stagnant blood and promotes tissue healing.
  • Anti-Inflammation: Leech saliva has anti-inflammatory components, which help reduce inflammation at the bite site. This property is particularly beneficial in conditions where inflammation is a contributing factor.
  • Analgesia: Leech saliva contains anesthetic compounds that numb the bite area, reducing pain and discomfort during and after the feeding process.
  • Microbial Defense: Leech saliva has antimicrobial properties that can help prevent infection at the bite site.

Overall, leech therapy’s mechanism of action involves enhancing blood circulation, reducing inflammation, preventing clot formation, and providing analgesia, contributing to its potential therapeutic effects in various health conditions.

Conditions Treated with Leech Therapy

Here are some conditions that are believed to be treated with leech therapy in Ayurveda:

  • Skin Disorders: Leech therapy is thought to purify the blood and remove toxins, which may be beneficial for various skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema, and acne.
  • Arthritis and Joint Pain: Ayurvedic practitioners may use leech therapy to alleviate symptoms of arthritis and joint pain by promoting blood circulation and reducing inflammation.
  • Varicose Veins: Leeches are believed to have a blood-thinning effect and may be used to improve circulation in the affected areas, potentially benefiting individuals with varicose veins.
  • Migraines and Headaches: Ayurveda suggests that leech therapy can help balance the doshas, particularly Pitta, which is associated with heat. This balance is thought to alleviate migraines and headaches.
  • Hematoma and Bruising: Leeches have anticoagulant properties that may be useful in reducing blood clotting and promoting the healing of hematomas and bruises.
  • Gynecological Disorders: Some Ayurvedic practitioners use leech therapy to address certain gynecological issues, such as irregular menstruation or conditions associated with excess Pitta.
  • Detoxification: Leech therapy is believed to help detoxify the body by removing impurities from the blood, promoting overall well-being.

Procedure and Application

Here’s an overview of the procedure and application of leech therapy in Ayurveda:

1. Selection of Medicinal Leeches:

  • Ayurvedic practitioners typically select medicinal leech species known for their therapeutic properties.
  • The leeches are often raised in controlled environments to ensure their cleanliness and health.

2. Preparation of the Patient:

  • The patient is advised to fast or follow dietary restrictions before the therapy.
  • The area of application is cleaned thoroughly to ensure hygiene. Decoction made of Trifala 

3. Identification of Target Areas:

  • Ayurvedic practitioners determine specific marma points or areas on the body where the leeches will be applied.
  • These points are selected based on the individual’s health condition and the targeted therapeutic effects.

4. Application of Leeches:

  • The leeches are placed on the designated points.
  • Often, a container or a cup is used to secure the leech in place on the targeted area.
  • The leeches are allowed to attach themselves to the skin using their suction-like mouths.
  • If leeches don’t attach to skin, practitioner makes a small incision on skin to let blood comes out. By sucking that blood drop leech gets attached to that area.

5. Blood-Sucking Process:

  • Once attached, leeches release saliva containing bioactive substances, including anticoagulants and anesthetics.
  • The saliva prevents blood clotting and numbs the area, making the blood-sucking process painless.

6. Duration of Therapy:

  • The duration of leech therapy varies depending on the specific condition being treated.
  • It may last from a few minutes to an hour or more.

7. Detachment of Leeches:

  • After the leeches have engorged themselves with blood, they detach on their own.
  • Alternatively, practitioners may gently detach the leeches once they have had their fill.

8. Post-Therapy Care:

  • The treated area is cleaned, and herbal formulations or medicated oils may be applied to promote healing.
  • Patients are often advised to rest and follow specific dietary and lifestyle recommendations post-therapy.


    • Yes, when performed by trained practitioners following safety protocols.
    • The duration varies but is typically between 30 minutes to an hour.
    • Minor side effects may occur, but serious complications are none.
    • The therapy is generally well-tolerated, with minimal discomfort.

Uniqueness of our therapies  

At Arogya Mandir – Shri Siddhanath Ayurvedic Hospital, Miraj, we delve deeply into the ayurvedic examination of each patient. Utilizing noninvasive Ayurvedic diagnostic tools such as Ashtavidha Parikshan and Nadi Parikshan, we precisely determine the pathogenesis of the disease and then prescribe therapies tailored to the specific condition. This approach leads to expedited results.

Our therapies boast the following distinctive features:
– Tranquil and hygienic therapy rooms staffed with trained therapists in a positive environment.
– Selection of appropriate massage oil based on the patient’s Prakruti and the condition of the disease.
– Complimentary Prakruti and Dhatu Sarata examinations before the commencement of therapies.
– Authenticated procedures for each therapy.
– Judicious use of herbal medicines and instruments during the therapy sessions.
– Specialized rooms equipped with all facilities for inpatient care.

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