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Author(s): Verma Dilip Kumar | Chaubey Pawan Kumar | Singh Akhilesh Kumar | Singh O.P.

Journal: International Journal of Research in Ayurveda and Pharmacy
ISSN 2229-3566

Volume: 3;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 47;
Date: 2012;
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Keywords: Jalauka | Jalaukavacharan | Raktamokshan | Hirudotherapy.

The medicinal leech, Hirudo medicinalis, is one of the few examples of the use of invertebrates in the treatment of human disease. Leech therapy also known as Hirudotherapy (mentioned as Jalaukavacharan in Ayurveda) played an important role because it was used for medicinal "blood-letting" and "purification" - a practice believed to cure a variety of ailments from gout to headaches. The use of leeches began to become less widespread towards the end of the 19th century. But leech therapy has now again emerged as widely useful therapy in large number of diseases and is attracting the eyes of researchers all over the world. In Ayurveda, Jalaukavacharana has been mentioned as one of the processes of Raktamokshana. Ayurveda scholars have devoted full chapters in their texts depicting identification, collection, preservation, method of application, indications etc. of leeches which proves its popularity in medical field since ancient times. Besides its wide indications, its easy applicability without producing any adverse effects is also another reason why leech therapy has been practiced by Ayurvedic physicians since ancient times. In present era, role of leeches in microsurgery in setting of venous congestion associated with soft tissue replantations and free flap-based reconstructive surgery has been well accepted on various scientific grounds. In 21st century, studies have been done to prove its role in arthritis. But there are many more areas from headache to hypertension, where leeches are evident to give successful results. The need is to explore these areas and perform studies to make them globally accepted. Researchers in Faculty of Ayurveda, IMS, BHU are involved in various clinical as well as experimental studies to make the well evident clinical efficient therapy mentioned in Ayurveda scientifically accepted all over the world. These reasons, gave us the curiosity to explore the historical uses of leech therapy in view to establish its importance as well as to get clues for future scopes in hirudotherapy.
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