Blood Letting in Ayurveda: A Unique Therapy

Dr. Imlikumba
Medical Officer (Ayurveda), NEIFM

The father of Ayurvedic Medicine Charaka describes the five Panchakarma procedures as Vamana (Therapeutic emesis), Virechana (Therapeutic purgation), Nasya (Nasal medication) and two types of Basti (Therapeutic enema). Another great Ayurvedic Surgeon Sushruta The father of Surgery combined the two types of basti into one category and added Raktamokshana. The therapeutic withdrawal of blood from the body (blood letting) as one of the Panchakarma therapy.

Although Raktamokshana is the most limited of the five major procedures, it provides a rapid and sometimes dramatic reduction of symptoms in certain acute disorders, especially where time is a critical factor.  In acute conditions when you need quick relief, and there is no time for the various phases of Panchakarma like Purvakarma (Preparation for Panchakarma) etc. Raktamokshana can be helpful. Raktamokshana gives relief from acute symptoms very quickly. Different types of Raktamokshana procedures are mentioned in Ayurvedic texts for treating various conditions. A properly trained Ayurvedic physician should do all the Panchakarma procedures especially Raktamokshana as it required close observation at every stage. Raktamokshana is performed individually for each person after analyzing his or her Prakriti (Body type) and medical condition.

Though it sounds very primitive way of treating, it is a very helpful process. Raktamokshana means removing vitiated blood from the body. It is a localized treatment. Extraction of vitiated blood from the body by using surgical instruments and other tools is known as Raktamokshana.
Types of Raktamokshana:

  • Using surgical instruments (Shastra):
  • Pracchana(scratching): Scratching with a sterile blade is indicated to drain the accumulated blood from a particular point.
  • Siravyadha (Venepuncture): Venepuncture is devised whenever vitiated blood circulates in the body. 
  • Other tools (Ashastra):
  • Jalouka (Leech therapy): Deep-seated blood can be extracted with the help of Leech application.
  • Shringa(Horn): To extract the blood vitiated, Shringa or deer horn is indicated.
  • Ghati (Cupping): To drain the vitiated blood, which has settled in different layers of the skin, Cupping is useful. 

Following are some of the diseases for which Raktamokshana (Bloodletting) can be helpful: Skin diseases, Herpes, Jaundice, Ulcers, Gout, Piles, Abscess, Leucoderma, Eczema, Deep Venous Thrombosis, Varicose Veins.

Procedure & After Care:

Maximum 100 ml of vitiated blood can be removed at one time and not more at specified points and by selecting specific procedure according to diseases and body constituent. The patient is monitored for 30 minutes to 1 hour after bloodletting.

Then internal herbs, diet and lifestyle changes are advised for a specific period of time. lt is also advisable to avoid known trigger factors like different food substances (e.g., alcoholic beverages, cheese, chocolate and a number of other substances, disrupted schedules, lack of sleep, irregularity in meals especially missed meals, and physical and emotional stress. Thus bloodletting is one of the five Panchakarma procedures, which is effective in curing the disease as well as preventing the recurrence. 

NOTE: Ayurvedic medicines and treatments should be taken under Qualified Ayurvedic Doctor/Physician. The drugs described in this article are for general information/educational purpose only. Anyone should not use these without consulting a qualified Ayurveda doctor/physician. Every week a new video is uploaded in Youtube channel Health Naturally do subscribe to it. The dose and duration of the treatment may be decided by the physician according to the condition of the patient.

The author is a Medical Officer (Ayurveda), North Eastern Institute of Folk Medicine (NEIFM), an Autonomous Institute under Ministry Of AYUSH, Govt. of India, Pasighat,: Arunachal Pradesh. Email: