Traditional leech therapy on Navroz: Hundreds make beeline in Srinagar

Srinagar: As many ailing people get leech therapy done in Srinagar on Navroz.

A Unani practitioner said that the cosmetic procedure comprises three types of medicinal leeches that have three jaws with tiny rows of teeth.

Every year on Navroz, or the Parsi New Year, many people seek the unique, alternative leech medicinal therapy in Kashmir’s Srinagar to get rid of their long-term ailments. As such, it is not uncommon to find people lined up outside leech therapy centers, which are often run by Unani and ayurvedic practitioners.

But what is leech therapy?

The procedure, that lasts for 15-20 minutes, is touted to be a “blood detoxification process” which is most effective for chronic skin ailments like acne, blackheads, and to get glowing skin, an Unani practitioner who specialises in leech therapy said.

During the therapy, leeches — whose saliva is believed to contain natural chemicals — are applied to the affected area(s) of the body to help promote blood flow, reduce inflammation, and relieve pain.

“The number of live leeches used on a patient depends on the body part they are being used on. For example, to get a facial glow, leeches are used on like both sides of the face,” said the doctor.

He said that the cosmetic procedure comprises using three types of medicinal leeches that 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 15 odd minutes at a time,” he said adding that it is believed that on full moon days like Navroz, the gravitational pull is the strongest, which makes the “impurities in the blood come to the surface” — the reason this tradition is popular on such days.

The blood drawn is relatively a small amount, which can be upto 50 ml from one human at one time, added the practioner, further warning that no more than 50 ml should be drawn. “Also, do not believe fraudsters who say the procedure can cure chronic ailments like diabetes,” he stressed.

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