Irsal-e-Alaq (Leech Therapy/ Hirudo therapy) in Surgical Diseases: A review
Dr. Saiyad Shah Alam, Dr. Waseem Ahmad, Dr. Sahibole Suhail Yunus
The Unani system of medicine founded by Hippocrates (460-377 BC) is based on the concept of equilibrium and balance of natural body humors (blood, bile, black bile and phlegm). If imbalance occurs in these four types of humors, diseases appear and if these four types of humors remain balanced then health is present in the body. The treatment modalities of the diseases in Unani system are based on the four modalities i.e Ilaj-bit-Tadbeer (Regimental therapy), Ilaj-bil-Ghiza (dietotherapy), Ilaj-bil-Dawa (pharmacotherapy) and Ilaj–bil-Yad (Surgery). Leech therapy or Irsal-e- Alaq is one of the most widely practiced therapies in USM. Irsale alaq is the method of evacuation of morbid humors from the body and thereby balancing the four humors and hence regaining the health. Ancient Egyptian, Indian, Greek and Arab physicians used leeches for a wide range of diseases starting from the conventional use for bleeding to systemic ailments, such as skin diseases, nervous system abnormalities, urinary and reproductive system problems, inflammation, and dental problems. Recently, extensive researches on leech saliva unveiled the presence of a variety of bioactive peptides and proteins involving antithrombin (hirudin, bufrudin), antiplatelet (calin, saratin), factor Xa inhibitors (lefaxin), antibacterial (theromacin, theromyzin) and others. The commonest indication of leech therapy as mentioned in unani classical literature are dawali (varicose vein), quroohe khabeesa (septic wound), khanazeer (lymphadenitis), bawaseer (piles), nawaseer (fistula in ano) and da-ul-feel (elephantiasis) etc.
Dr. Saiyad Shah Alam, Dr. Waseem Ahmad, Dr. Sahibole Suhail Yunus. Irsal-e-Alaq (Leech Therapy/ Hirudo therapy) in Surgical Diseases: A review. International Journal of Medicine Research, Volume 1, Issue 4, 2016, Pages 23-27