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Covid 19: Patients diagnosed with black fungus opt for leech therapy; all you need to know

Is leech therapy a cure for black fungus? Here's what experts say

leech therapy, ayurveda, black fungusA black fungus patient getting treated using leech therapy at a government Ayurvedic hospital in Asarwa, Ahmedabad. (Express photo by Nirmal Harindran)

The number of black fungus or mucormycosis cases in both active and recovered Covid patients has been alarming. In fact, in May this year, the centre asked states to notify black fungus as an epidemic.

Meanwhile, some recovered patients diagnosed with black fungus have opted for leech therapy, an Ayurvedic treatment, after trying conventional methods for cure.

Does it really work?

Leech therapy for mucormycosis

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An Ayurvedic practice, leech therapy is a blood purification process that is helpful in letting toxic blood out of the body. Medicinal leeches suck impure blood and release enzymes supportive in increasing immunity.

Dr Aswathy Pathiyath, Ayurveda consultant, Fazlani Natures Nest, tells, “Mucormycosis or black fungus is mainly affecting coronavirus patients with comorbid conditions like diabetes. It is classified into five types depending on the part affected. Among them, Disseminated Mucormycosis in the later phase and Cutaneous mucormycosis can be correlated to Dustavrana (non-healing ulcer) and Kusta (skin disease), Visarpa (erysipelas) respectively.”

“In this, leech therapy is one among the best methods of treatment. This again depends on the ‘prakruthi’ of the person and the extent of the symptoms,” the expert adds.

He further says, “Along with other Ayurveda treatment principles of mucormycosis, depending upon the area affected, leech therapy may be administered. However, the main line of treatment will be Kledohara chikista and Premehahara (treatment of diabetes and diabetic wounds and skin issues), Agnivardhaka (modalities to improve metabolism and digestion), Krimihara, Ojovardhaka (treatment of infections) and Rasayana chikitsa (rejuvenation and immunoboosting therapies).”

Dr Yash Javeri, critical care, Anesthesia and Emergency Medicine, Regency Superspecialty Hospital, Lucknow, however, says, “Though the therapy might be useful for few medical conditions, there is no medical literature or evidence to support the use of leech therapy in mucormycosis. We need to select therapies very carefully.”


Dr Amitabh Malik, ENT surgeon, Paras Healthcare, agrees that Ayurveda treatment for mucormycosis lacks scientific proof. “There is only one therapy that has been proven worldwide which is working on such patients is to surgically remove all the disease tissue and then give them amphotericin B liposomal and other anti-fungal drugs. People can have faith in anything but so far there has been no scientific evidence for this leech therapy,” he says.

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First published on: 20-07-2021 at 11:30:22 am
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