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Year : 2020  |  Volume : 7  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 15-19

Leech farming in natural habitat: An observational report

Department of Shalyatantra, Ch. Brahm Prakash Ayurved Charak Sansthan, New Delhi, India

Date of Submission03-Mar-2021
Date of Decision12-Apr-2021
Date of Acceptance14-May-2021
Date of Web Publication09-Jul-2021

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Mahesh Kumar
Department of Shalyatantra, Ch. Brahm Prakash Ayurved Charak Samsthan, Najafgarh, Khera Dabar, New Delhi - 110 073
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/AYUHOM.AYUHOM_18_21

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Background: Ayurveda descriptions of Raktamokshana (bloodletting) by Leech therapy are available and indicated in many skin diseases, raktaj diseases, etc., The Leeches (like Hirudinaria granulosa, Hirudo medicinalis) has blood-sucking habit, found in ponds, lakes, and freshwater bodies. Leeches are invertebrate animals belonging to phylum Annelida of animal kingdom. Leeches offer dual benefit as by sucking the impure blood (bloodletting) from the diseased site and by injecting biological active saliva content in human circulation. The Leech therapy has been in practice at most of the Ayurvedic centers, but there is no known established reliable supplier of Leeches for medical benefits yet known. The increase demand of Leeches and lesser availability forms challenge, especially in extreme weather. Availability of Leeches at treatment centers as and when required is a must in order to help the beneficiary. Basically, it is a research topic and also an innovative idea for Ayurveda scholars. A pioneering effort in the form of pilot work is taken regarding the establishment of Leech farming center. Purpose: The purpose of the study was to initiate Leech cultivation (Leech farming) for continuous availability of leeches in clinical practice and research purposes. It may be helpful to researcher for productive Leech farming. Materials and Methods: On studying the ancient and current relevant literature of Leech, the cultivation started in self-designed protocol and pond. Results: The evidence of Leech cultivation seen in offers environment. Conclusion: The farming of leeches is possible in the given environment. This initial study may inspire fraternity for future research.

Keywords: Ayurveda, Hirudinaria, Jalauka, leech, leech farming, Sushruta

How to cite this article:
Kumar M, Manju R. Leech farming in natural habitat: An observational report. AYUHOM 2020;7:15-9

How to cite this URL:
Kumar M, Manju R. Leech farming in natural habitat: An observational report. AYUHOM [serial online] 2020 [cited 2023 Mar 31];7:15-9. Available from: http://www.ayuhom.com/text.asp?2020/7/1/15/321038

  Introduction Top

The Jalaukavacharana[1],[2],[3] also known as Leech therapy is a well-known treatment modality since Sushruta[4] period till now. This bloodletting[5],[6] method has a great reputation in the surgical discipline. It is being practiced in various medicosurgical conditions or diseases. For bloodletting purposes, the most frequently occurring common Indian cattle Leeches Hirudinaria granulosa[7] are chosen.xs These are non-chordates lower animals, belonging to phylum Annelida[8] of animal kingdom.

Leech therapy is a result-oriented therapy in various diseases, so the demand of Leeches continuously rising among clinicians. It is a challenge to make permanent availability of Leeches at every clinic or health centre. Till now there is not any known reliable vendor, who could supply specified Leech continuously. Many questions also arise regarding the identification of Leech. Although the popularity of leech therapy growing day by day, the scientific research work and its dissemination hindered due to no frequent availability. For example, the clinician when finding the Leeches takes interest on application on diseased condition rather to do research activity. So keeping these things in mind to make adequate availability of Leeches, the study planned and make a continuous effort in establishing Leech farming[9] center.

The basic home-work and plan on subject started in the year 2014. Prior to this study, the pilot work one already completed on the topic “An observational pilot study for optimal condition of water habitat for medicinal Leech cultivation in reference to establishment of leech farming unit”. This offers many ideas, knowledge, and experience regarding Leech farming and also that natural water is best for Leeches.[10] In this work, the observational data were recorded and maintained well in view of primary and secondary aims. The main priority and attention of this study were liveable and breeding in Leeches. The study completed in predefined, designed, and planned protocol. The observational work of 2 years was completed in 2017. The aim was to observe the Leech breeding in natural environment (primary aim) and to establish the norm of Leech farming center (secondary aim).

Leech and leech therapy

Sushruta mentioned the Jalaukavacharana (Leech therapy) as a parasurgical procedure.[11] The details are mentioned at Sushruta Samhita Sutra Sthana Chapter 13. The Jalauka of ancients are Leeches and their application in clinical practice is known as Leech therapy [Figure 1].[12] The taxonomic position of Leech in animal kingdom is phylum Annelida and class Hirudinea.[13] These are segmented worm like sanguivorous, hermaphrodite organisms and commonly found in freshwater, ponds, etc., The average life span of Leeches is maximum of up to 10 years that depends on various factors. The capacity of multiplication in Leech is good and grow-mature period is 6–12 months. As per textual knowledge, Leeches copulate during annual season in the month of March–April.[14] At present, these unique therapies get much popularity in India and abroad for treatment of various medicosurgical diseases.
Figure 1: Leech farming site & pond

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Need of the study

The procurement of Leeches has not been easy for patients and clinicians at the time of need. The availability of leeches is also a challenge at few extreme occasions like cold weather so that Leech therapy hampered. Most of the institutes procure leeches from local persons, market, and unauthorised venders. The requirement of Leeches is rising day by day for patient care and research purposes. In short, the increasing demand of Leeches and lack of reliable Leech supplier sources emphasis a desire to do something. With the help of this work, an effort has been made to start the breeding of the Leeches in natural atmosphere under observation.

Past experience on leech farming

The initial pilot study of 1 year has already been completed and it shows that the Leeches can survive in natural water, mixed water as well as in reverse osmosis water too. As natural water is freely available and no extra effort is taken regarding the availability of water, so it is chosen for study in a self-designed pond, initially for a period of 2 years.

  Materials and Methods Top

Material required

The following material and equipment's used in this pilot study:

  • Site- The site of pond is in open area having well exposed to air, sunlight, rainwater, etc [Figure 1] (a) Leech farming site and pond
  • Dimension and capacity of pond – A self-designed pond having dimension of 2 feet length ×2 feet width ×3 feet depth and capacity of approximately 300 l water
  • Water supply– Available ground natural water
  • Soil – Available local site soil
  • Number of leeches – 100
  • Construction material – The raw material used for the construction of ponds are cement, bricks, baalu (sand), morang, soil, etc.
  • Covering of the pond – Framed steel porous sheets (5 × 5 feet) to cover the pond area as Leeches not escape outside from pond
  • TDS meter – To measure the TDS value of natural water
  • Urinometer[15] – To measure specific gravity of water
  • PH indicator paper– To measure pH value of water
  • The temperature and humidity should be monitored
  • Nutrition– The nutrition which is used for fish culture are used.


The self-designed pond was constructed as per the above description. The natural groundwater supply is chosen for cultivation of Leeches. The water filled in pond whenever needed (like deficient or absorb) but the natural water of the pond changed at 15 days interval and at that time the observation recorded. The observation of water and Leeches is done routinely. The pH of water[16] TDS value of water,[17] specific gravity of water,[18] color of water, and any foul smelling from pondwere recorded at the time of water exchange as per the annexure. The observation of Leeches was done as a number of alive/dead Leeches, cross-matching if any seen, cocoon formation, and appearance of juvenile Leeches, etc., The records of temperature of water body, temperature of environment (recorded from Dainik Jagarana newspaper),[19] and environmental humidity[20] werte maintained. The Analysis of used water and soil was done from Indian Agricultural Research Institute PUSA,[21] New Delhi. This study is designed initially for a period of 2 years. The keen supervision was taken on each activity.


The observation findings were recorded as per the parameter mentioned in the methodology. The data are presented below in form of graph (1-7).

  Results and Discussion Top

The observation records were noted as per the protocol. On analysis of observational data, the following facts came that are mentioned below:

  1. Temperature – The Leeches doing respiration with their skin in water. The temperature may dry the pond water and raise the warmness in water body or may boil them [Table 1]. Hence, temperature is a crucial factor for Leeches that effects on life of Leeches. The suitable (average) temperature of water body for Leeches in the study is 25.6466°C. The maximum temperature is 35.4°C and minimum temperature is 10.6°C [Figure 2].
  2. pH of water – The pH of water ables to change water chemistry and affects the cell membrane. This influences the livability of Leeches. Most suitable average pH of water for Leeches is 7.1698. The maximum pH is 8 and the minimum pH is 6 [Figure 3].
  3. TDS (total dissolved solid) of water – Most suitable average TDS value of water for Leeches is 2367.1698. The maximum TDS is 5050 and the minimum TDS is 1110 [Figure 4]
  4. Specific gravity of water – The suitable average specific gravity of water for Leeches is 1008.5849. The maximum specific gravity is 1020 and minimum specific gravity is 1000 [Figure 5]
  5. Color of water almost not change except on few occasion shows slight green color
  6. In complete study period, no foul smell felt in the pond
  7. The parameters of monitoring of Leeches and water during the study are mentioned in methods heads
  8. During study periods, the most of Leeches survive except little exception. There are few occasions (especially hot season) seen at that time few Leeches expired in the pond. Very adult dead Leeches seen die in extreme weather, and the survival rate of young Leeches is much more compared to adult ones
  9. As appearance of small leeches in pond is seen and is indicating the event of successful Leech breeding. Mature and young Leeches average ph of water. It is a positive sign of successful Leech cultivation [Figure 6]
  10. The study shows enough encouraging results with many torch bearer thoughts for the future plan in cultivation of Leeches. The cultivation was successful in given conditions, but still desires extra care at the time of exchange of water and seasonal temperature variance.
Table 1: Month-wise average temperature of water body (°C)

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Figure 2: Average temperature of water body

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Figure 3: Average pH of water

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Figure 4: Average TDS of water

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Figure 5: Average specific gravity of water

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Figure 6: Mature and young Leech

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  Conclusion Top

This is experiment based observational study, its all outcomes were observed and recorded during the study period. This ensures care, availability, and reliability regarding the use of Leeches. The breeding is successful in this pilot work. The temperature, water, soil, pH, and TDS parameters also observed which directly affect during care of leeches. It is a respectable achievement for further construction of large and multiple ponds and also make a step ahead in the establishment of Leech farming center. These help in permanent availability of reliable quality of Leeches. This little pioneer effort may be prestigious and a milestone in field of Leech therapy.


The heartfelt thanks and gratitude to Director–Principal and admin authority of institute for their all support, guidance, and providing infrastructure. Obligations of staff of institute and department for their support in study.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Tripathi Brahmanand, Charak Chandrika (Charaksutrasthana 25), Hindi Commentary on Charak Samhita. Varanasi: Chaukhambha Surbharti Prakashan; 2003.p. 455.  Back to cited text no. 1
Shastri Ambikadatta, Ayurveda Tattavasandeepika Part 1, Hindi Commentary on Sushruta Samhita. Varanasi: Chaukhambha Sanskrit Sansthan; 2005. p. 43-6.  Back to cited text no. 2
Tripathi Ravidatta, Astanga Samgraha (Sutrasthana 35). Delhi: Published by Chaukhambha Sanskrit Pratisthaan; 2001. p. 599-604.  Back to cited text no. 3
Sushruta. Available from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sushruta. [Last accessed on 2019 Apr 21].  Back to cited text no. 4
Bloodletting. Available from: https://www.bcmj.org/premise/history-bloodletting. [Last accessed on 2019 Apr 21].  Back to cited text no. 5
Kotpal RL. Modern Text Book of Zoology Invertebrates. Annelida. 11th ed., Ch. 43-44. Meerut: Rastogi Publications; 2017-18. p. 558-90.  Back to cited text no. 8
Leech Farming. Available from: https://www.slideshare.net/medileech/leech-farming-guide. [Last accessed on 2019 Apr 21].  Back to cited text no. 9
Kumar M, Rani M. Natural water habitat is best for Leech farming: An observational study, WJPPS 2018;7:1037-48.  Back to cited text no. 10
Shastri Ambikadatta, Ayurveda Tattavasandeepika (Sushruta Shareer Sthana 8/15-17), Part-1, Hindi Commentary on Sushruta Samhita. Varanasi: Chaukhambha Sanskrit Sansthan; 2005. p. 29.  Back to cited text no. 11
Kumar Mahesh, Rani Manju, Chaturvedi Sonal, Jalaukavacharana (Leech Therapy): A New Approach for Non invasive Therapy, Published in Ayush Darpan Ayurveda for All Souvenir of International Conference in May, 2014. p. 62-5.  Back to cited text no. 12
Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/hirudinea. [Last accessed on 2019 Apr 21].  Back to cited text no. 13
Kotpal RL. Modern Text Book of Zoology Invertebrates, Annelida. 11th ed., Ch. 43. Meerut: Rastogi Publications; 2017-18. p. 554.  Back to cited text no. 14
Available from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urinometer. [Last accessed on 2019 Apr 21].  Back to cited text no. 15
pH. Available from: https//en.m.wikipedia.org. [Last accessed on 2019 Mar 28].  Back to cited text no. 16
Total Dissolved Solids (TDS). Available from: https//en.m.wikipedia.org. [Last accessed on 2018 Mar 28].  Back to cited text no. 17
Specific Gravity – Hydrometer. Available from: https//en.m.wikipedia.org. [Last accessed on 2018 Mar 28].  Back to cited text no. 18
Available from: https://www.jagran.com/state/delhi-ncr. [Last accessed on 2019 Mar 21].  Back to cited text no. 19
Available from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humidity. [Last assessed on 2019 Mar 21].  Back to cited text no. 20
Available from: http://www.iari.res.in/. [Last assessed on 2019 Mar 21].  Back to cited text no. 21


  [Figure 1], [Figure 2], [Figure 3], [Figure 4], [Figure 5], [Figure 6]

  [Table 1]


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