Why leech therapy has become an inherent part of Navroz festivities in Kashmir

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Kashmir Kashmiris receive leech therapy on Nowroz in Srinagar Umar Ganie 29 2 scaled

Srinagar: Food, feast and leeches!

Navroz was celebrated with traditional fervor and gaiety in Kashmir. What added a unique dimension to the festival was the leech therapy.

Since the festival heralds the onset of spring, leech therapy during this auspicious time is believed to enhance its effectiveness.

Leech therapy, an ancient method of bloodletting or bloodsucking, holds a prominent place in the Unani system of Medicine, serving as a vital tool for local evacuation of morbid humor.

For people like Lateef Ahmad from Nowshera, Navroz holds special importance as he seeks relief from Chilblains in his feet through leech therapy. Despite trying various medications without success, Lateef believes in the efficacy of this ancient remedy, spurred on by the advice of his elders.

“I have Chilblains in my feet. I have tried a lot of medication but it doesn’t get cured and makes the winters harsh for me. My elders advised me to take the leech therapy to get the cure which is why I am here as it is believed that leech therapy should be taken on Nawroz for better effectiveness,” he said.

Similarly, Sabiya, another resident of Srinagar suffering from knee pain, found relief through leech therapy after enduring considerable discomfort. Unable to walk properly due to her condition, she turned to leech therapy upon a colleague’s recommendation, experiencing remarkable improvement.

“I couldn’t even walk properly due to my knee pain. I used to stop on roads while walking due to the pain. The medications couldn’t help me then one day a colleague advised me to go for leech therapy and it worked like magic,” she said.

Medical experts highlight the diverse applications of Medical leech therapy, particularly in diabetic foot, Acute and chronic otitis, post-surgical scenarios, cardiovascular diseases, and skin conditions like Psoriasis.

Associate Professor of Dermatology and Cosmetology Health and Medical Education Jammu and Kashmir, Dr. Azad emphasized the importance of pre-leech procedures and cautioned against the therapy for certain conditions.

“People suffering from bleeding disorders, uncontrollable diabetes, and communicable diseases should refrain from leech therapy,” he said.

Speaking with The Kashmir Monitor, Dr. Mushtaq Ahmad Payer, Associate Professor at Government Unani Medical College, Ganderbal, stressed the need for hygiene and safety in leech therapy, urging patients to ensure that leeches are not reused to prevent communicable infections.

“One leech should be used for one patient to prevent blood transmitted diseases or communicable infections,” he said.

Furthermore, Dr. Payer cautioned against leech therapy for individuals with specific medical conditions, including leukemia, bone marrow suppression, and those undergoing chemotherapy or radiotherapy.

“Patients suffering from absolute hemophilia, anemia, and pregnant women should also avoid leech therapy,” he said.