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Health

Bloodletting attracts daily patients in India

bloodletting
Patient's foot is cut to get rid of bad blood in order to get well  
June 27, 1998
Web posted at: 1:08 p.m. EDT (1708 GMT)

From New Delhi Bureau Chief Anita Pratap

DELHI, India (CNN) -- Bloodletting is believed to be an ancient cure for a variety of ailments and still finds its daily application in the streets of Old Delhi.

Hakim Mohammad Ghyas is one of the practitioners of this arcane therapy and claims it can cure arthritis, lumbago and cancer.

The basic tenet of the therapy is the belief that impure blood is the root cause of all ailments: Get rid of the bad blood and you get well -- even if several sessions may be needed to achieve that goal.

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Ghyas does admit that for most of his patients, bloodletting is the last resort.

patients
Patients get bloodletting therapy in an open-air clinic  

Cured 'by the grace of Allah'

"After trying every other cure and failing, people come to me from all over the world. And by the grace of Allah, they get well," he told CNN.

Every day, about 100 patients seek out Ghyas' open-air clinic, situated outside Delhi's biggest mosque.

To make the blood flow more easily, Ghyas first makes his patients stand in the sun for half an hour. Then, the patient, still standing upright, is tied from the waist down with a rope, and the actual incisions are made with a razor blade.

The darker the color of the blood, the more the patient must bleed, according to the practitioners of the therapy.

treating a patient
Ghyas treats one of the patients  

Most patients claim benefits

Most patients seeking Ghyas' help claim to have benefited from the therapy.

"Earlier, he couldn't sit or stand," said a helper of Sumil Kumar, whose life was impaired by a road accident six years ago. "Now he can do both and he can even walk a little."

"After coming here I have a lot of relief from my body ache. I don't take pills any more," another apparently satisfied customer told CNN.

Ghyas says he does not charge his patients, most of whom are desperate or poor. "When people come to me, they have often even sold their pots and pans. What can I take from such people," he said.

To make ends meet, Ghyas depends on one son who is a shopkeeper while another son is following in the footsteps of his father and helps with the bloodletting.

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