Jalaukavacharanam – A keyhole surgery technique or leech therapy in Ayurveda
Jalaukam is known as Leech in Sanskrit and the therapy made with the help of leech is called as Jalaukavacharanam. In modern terminology, Jalaukavacharanam is also considered to be one type of Keyhole surgery. In 13th chapter of Suthrasthana in the book Sushrutha Samhita, Sushrutha describes about leeches. He mentions that there are two types of leeches available and they are poisonous and non-poisonous. In each classification there are totally 6 distinct types available. Jalaukavacharanam is a therapy that involves non-poisonous leeches. In Ayurveda, only the non poisonous variety leeches are used for therapeutic purposes. They are being used for several centuries and have provides very good results. Based on the information written by Sushrutha in Sushrutha Samhita, there are many research works going on to understand the other significance of this leech therapy. Even today this therapy is being used by various Aurvedic physicians to solve problems related to bad tissues, blood and skin. In other words we can also say that this keyhole surgery has been described in Sushrutha Samhita as Jalaukavacharanam.
Leech or Jalaukam is considered to be an important organism for treatment in Ayurveda. They are very helpful in treating various problems related to skin and blood. Especially the problems that arises after transplantation of an organ or re-fixing a broken limb are addressed with the help of Jalaukavacharanam. Lord Dhanvantari is considered to be the God for Ayurveda and the first surgeon in Ayurveda. This Jalaukam or leech stays in the hand of Lord Dhanvantari as a symbol of surgery. All the Ayurveda lovers and practitioners worship Lord Dhanvantari with the below shloka.
वन्दे धन्वन्तरिं तं निखिल गदवन प्रौढदावाग्निलीलम॥ ”
Meaning of this shloka
“One who bears in his attractive four hands- conch, circular weapon,
a set of leeches and a pot with ambrosia,
whose fine, shining and pure upper garment
makes him appear especially wonderful,
whose eyes are like lotus flower,
whose bright bodily luster is of the colour of a fresh rain cloud,
whose beautiful waist is adored by a magnificent yellow dress
and who burns away all diseases…
just like a forest fire,
to such Lord Dhanvantari,
I bow respectfully”
In the above shloka it is described that Lord Dhanvantari holds a set of leeches in his hand as a symbol for surgery.
Practice of Jalaukavacharanam or leech therapy
In Jalaukavacharanam, leeches are used to treat problems in the skin. Some varieties of leeches are capable of removing unwanted or bad blood from the affected region. The Ayurvedic physician first examines the depth of the infection or the disease in the person. Based on the investigation, treatment is provided or Jalaukavacharanam is suggested by the physician. There are few types of leeches available that are suitable for Jalaukavacharanam. These leeches are mostly available in Palakad in Kerala region of southern India. They are bred in big containers for this purpose and exported to various part of India and even outside India for this treatment.
Proper diet is very important to get a good result from Jalaukavacharanam. Usually in the modern world there are various distractions available for the human body to stay away from proper dieting. Some of the modern diet can even increase toxins in the body. Usually an Ayurvedic physician will provide dieting steps clean the body from toxins first before going for Jalaukavacharanam. If there are toxins in the body the leech therapy may not provide desired positive results. It is an important aspect in leech therapy.
The significance of Jalaukavacharanam or leech therapy come into place when people have problems related to skin or after transplantation or reattaching limbs. It can also be helpful for people who have complications in pure blood supply through the tissues after operations. It is also believed that the treatment is significant in removing cancerous tissues and regulate the blood flow.
Role played by leech in Jalaukavacharanam or leech therapy
In leech therapy or Jalaukavacharanam, a group of leeches are introduced to the affected region by the Ayurvedic physician. It is important that the patient should first be mentally prepared to accept the treatment. From the looks of it, it might be disgusting but the leeches are harmless. When they are introduced to the affected region, they suck impure blood and help in fast healing of the affected region. When leech suck blood from the affected region, there will not be any pain experienced by the patient. A natural anesthesia is available in the mouth of the leech and they are capable of sucking only the impure blood. Even the modern researchers have found that when leech sucks the blood, they inject some chemicals to the body along with their saliva that has healing properties. Further studies are being carried out to understand the full potential of these chemicals secreted by the leech.
Some people might find it scary but it is one of the successful treatment compared to that of key hole surgery in modern world. In this therapy a bunch of leeches are introduced to the affected region and let to suck the impure blood without any pain for the patient. The leeches that are used for these therapies are then removed from the affected region and the blood will be removed from their body. If they are used once, they will be stored in a container and will not be used again for the next 6 months. After 6 months they will again be used for further treatments. These special varieties of leeches are studied in detail to understand more about their significance. ‘Haementeria’ is one such giant leech that helps in preventing growth of tumor cells in the lungs. They are also capable of preventing cancer cells from grouping together. It is quite interesting to see such organisms created by the nature to treat problems in humans naturally.
Keyhole surgery and Jalaukavacharanam
In ancient India, Jalaukavacharanam was considered to be one of the advanced technique used to treat a person with complex diseases. In the modern world, we have a concept of keyhole surgery where a 5 to 10mm insertion is made in the skin and the affected region is operated through this keyhole. Various problems related to infections and organ problems are addressed with the help of keyhole surgery. Compared to the surgery where nearly 10 cm cutting will be made to operate the affected region, keyhole surgery was considered to be a major break through. For a modern researcher these information from Ayurvedic scriptures can be very helpful in extending the treatment methods for various health disorders. Researches who are interested in keyhole surgery are doing a deep analysis both theoretically as well as practically on Jalaukavacharanam or leech therapy.
Some people who underwent Jalaukavacharanam are Padma Subrahmanyam, Dr. K. Viswanatha Sharma and Advocate Sampath Kumar, Chromepet. They have shared their personal experiences in various public speeches. Padma Subrahmanyam was able to continue her dance after undergoing this surgery.