Since thousands of years, ayurveda is the medical science of India. The first practitioners ( many hindus consider them as saints) who taught this system said that leeches were useful to cure abscesses, tumors, sclerosis, piles, headaches, skin disorders, throat disorders, poisoning, arthritis,… They said by removing the impure from the body, the leeches treated the root cause of the sufferings. That’s why in India bloodletting by leeches is prescribed since antiquity. ( July and august are considered the best months to follow such treatment. Most of the time it lasts between seven and fifteen days.)
Yet, leeches suffer from a bad reputation mainly because of their diet ( blood) and the way they acquire it ( by sucking). In recent times, modern science has slowly learnt the animal’s dining process. When a leech bites, it injects an extremely potent cocktail of chemicals into the host’s body. These consist of an anaesthetic so that the pain of the incision is deadened or considerably dulled; a vasodilator which causes the blood vessels near the bite to become enlarged, thus ensuring continuous blood flow, a powerful anticoagulant that prevents blood from clotting in the region for several hours, and a mild but effective local antibiotic. It’s because of this unique combination of properties which are difficult to achieve using other standard medical techniques that leeches have come back into clinical practices in the last 30 years. In modern medicine, leeches are now used as a “device” to drain excess blood, relieve pressure and stimulate circulation in surgically reattached or transplanted appendages.
But as if that’s not squeamish enough for patients to stomach, maggots are also now known as efficient “devices”. While these larvae of common flies have an even worse public image, what is generally not known about them is that they can help heal deep and infected wounds more rapidly than any other non-surgical method, and that they are safe, simple and inexpensive with virtually no side effects. The reason is because maggots not only eat diseased flesh, leaving behind healthy tissue to regrow, they excrete chemicals which kill some of the bacteria that they don’t swallow. This is important because quite a few strains of bacteria are getting resistant to antibiotics and also, sometimes a patient has a vastly weakened immune system which can’t help the antibiotics to wipe out the germs.