EVALUATION OF ORGANISMS PRESENT IN THE GUT OF HIRUDINARIA GRANULOSA OR INDIAN CATTLE LEECH USED FOR THE PURPOSE OF HIRUDOTHERAPY (JALUKAVACHARANA) IN AYURVEDA - A METAGENOMIC STUDY
In Ayurveda, Shalya Tantra envisages surgical (Shastra Karma) and minimally invasive surgical methods (Anushastra Karma) for the management of various diseases. Among minimally invasive surgery, blood letting (Raktamokshana) plays an important role. Hirudotherapy or therapeutic use of leeches (Jalukavacharana) has been lauded for its role in the management of abscess, inflammation, cellulitis, non-healing ulcers, skin diseases etc. Leeches are applied to the venous-congested sites to withdraw obstructive blood and also the presence of anticoagulating and vasodilating agents further reduce circulatory obstruction and facilitate blood flow through the area. However, the advantages of leech therapy are confounded by more recent and widely reported occurrences of leech-borne infections at the bite wound, which may cause septicaemia in the patient when left untreated. It has been observed that the infection of the surgical site with bacterial species, Aeromonas hydrophilia necessitates prophylactic antibiotic cover. Most of these studies have been conducted in leeches in western countries. Hence this study was taken upto check for the presence of specific microbes in the gut of Indian Cattle leech which is used for the purpose of Jalukavacharana by Ayurvedic surgeons. This study of the presence of microbes can probably shed light on the scientific value of Poorvakarma told by Sushruta, where he advises to keep leeches in Haridra before being used for therapy to avoid transmission of infections.
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