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, Shalyatantra 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, necessitates prophylactic antibiotic cover. The study was undertaken to check for the presence and dominance of the various classes of bacteria in the gut of Indian Cattle leech which is used for the purpose of Jalukavacharana by Ayurvedic surgeons. Microbes belonging to the Phylum Proteobacteria were the most dominant followed by Bacteroidetes and Firmicutes. In the phylum Proteobacteria, the abundance of bacteria belonging to the family Enterobacteriacea was observed. Presence of genera classified under Alcaligenaceae, Aeromonadaceae and Rhodospirillaceae were recorded to a significant extent. This study on the presence of microbes can probably shed light on the scientific value of Poorvakarma told by Sushrutha, where he advises to keep leeches in Haridra before being used for therapy to avoid transmission of infections.
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