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Ayurveda > Panch-karma - Rakta-Moksha

By Dr. Satish Kulkarni

In this article we will discuss Rakta-moksha or bloodletting. This is not practiced much in ayurvedic medicine now because of the advancement of science. It is the traditional ayurvedic method used for cleansing of blood that was common world wide up until the 20th centuary. Ancient ayurvedic philosophy believed that this type of purification of blood helps in clearing ‘impurities’ present in the blood.

Ama (toxins) created as a result of the aggravation of the vaat-pitta-kafa (basic body constituents) are absorbed in the blood and are circulated throughout the body. This can be the root cause of repeated infections, hypertension and certain other blood related problems.

In this context, ayurvedic scholars mainly talk about skin conditions such as allergic disorders of the skin, rashes on the skin, herpes, eczema, acne, scabies and chronic itch. One ayurvedic school recommends rakta-moksha in a condition like leukoderma, considering it to be a pitta related disorder. In these conditions, along with internal cleansing, elimination of accumulated ‘bad’ blood in a particular region of body is necessary for purification of blood. Rakta-moksha is considered to be a radical choice of treatment in the above conditions.

Rakta-moksha is also advised in cases like enlarged liver, spleen and gout. It is recommended in case of hypertension to relieve internal tension in the body. It also helps in haematoma, localized oedema, abscesses, boils, cysts and hydro/pyo/hematoceles. It can be considered as a treatment in chronic dermatitis, cellulitis, sinusitis and swellings resulting from strain and sprain. It is a preferred treatment in cases of dog/ snake/ scorpion/gadfly bite if blood is accumulated near the area of the bite.

There are several ways to perform bloodletting. One way is to remove some blood through a nearby vein. The other way is to take parallel cuts on the skin of the affected part of body using a sterilized blade. It can also be done by applying a leech (a blood sucking worm) on the affected part of the body. Another way is to apply a tumbadi (i.e. a cupping instrument). All these methods help in removing ‘impure’/ accumulated/ unwanted blood in a particular region.

Rakta-moksha is contraindicated in cases of pandu (anemia), rajayakshma (tuberculosis), kamala (jaundice), general body debility as a result of any disease, and diabetes. It is also contraindicated for children (below 10 years) and the elderly (above 70 years of age). It is contraindicated in pregnancies and in blood loss (e.g. in menstruation, in accidents, etc.) Rakta-moksha is not advised for breast feeding mothers either.

To summarize, rakta-moksha or blood letting is a harsh treatment. It is an attempt to remove ‘impure’ blood from the body. This treatment is not practiced in the modern era because modern surgical techniques have taken the place of this old technique. If at all chosen, it should be performed very carefully and with a great caution, so as to avoid profuse blood loss and ill effects on the body and sudden death as a result of that.



Ayurvedic Milestones
Ayurvedic Thought
 Vaat, Pitta, Kafa, Dosh
 Dhatu, Mala, Fire
Pathology - Ama
 Ashtang Ayurved
 Agad Tantra
 Kaumar Bhrutya Tantra
 Shalya Tantra
 Shalakya tantra

Actual Case Notes
 Asthmatic Bronchitis
 Bleeding per anum
 Hair Loss
 Pregnancy Care
 Senile Debility
 Solution To Baldness
 Vaat Related Fever

Academic References
Ayurvedic Herbs


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