Dengue and Ayurveda: All you need to know
What is Dengue?
Dengue is a disease caused by viruses transmitted to humans through infected Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes. Dengue is most common in tropical areas such as the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia, Southern China, Taiwan, The Pacific Islands, Mexico, Africa and Central and South America.
The number of dengue cases has drastically increased in the last few years. According to a World Health Organization (WHO) report, there are about 390 million cases of dengue fever worldwide, and of the total number of cases, 96 million require medical treatment. India alone saw a doubling up of cases of dengue from 2014 to 2015 with numbers expected to increase in 2016.
When the infected mosquito bites a healthy human, the virus travels in the blood stream of the individual where it multiplies to spread through the whole body. Dengue is not contagious; it doesn’t spread by individual contact directly.
The symptoms of dengue begin usually after three to 14 days of infection. Symptoms of dengue may include a high fever often associated with headache, vomiting, muscle and joint pains, and a distinguishing skin rash. Pain in the joints is very instance and thus dengue fever is also called “breakbone fever”. Dengue fever intensity may vary from individuals so treatment options also vary from person to person. There are cases when dengue develops into a life threatening disease known as Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever or Dengue Shock Syndrome. This is characterized by Haemorrhage (severe bleeding), blood plasma leakage, and an exceptionally low platelet count.
Ayurveda considers Dengue to be Sannipataja Jwara. The pitta and kapha dosha in the body gets aggravated with a slight increase in vata dosha. Since the three doshas are involved in the disease, recovery from dengue takes some time. Some mild symptoms may fade off within 10 days from the day of onset but complete recovery from dengue may take about a months’ time.
There is no specific treatment for dengue in Western medication. The main aim is to keep the body hydrated. In Ayurveda, the treatment aims to increase the immunity of the individual with natural herbal formulations. It offers multiple options to bring the platelet counts to higher level as in Dengue the danger arises with the fall in the platelet counts. Several herbs are also used to maintain the body temperature.
One of the most common treatments for Dengue is the Papaya leaf. Studies have shown that papaya acts like a toxin for the dengue virus and also helps in increasing the platelet counts.
Here under mentioned are some of the remedies that can be useful for treating dengue fever.
- Papaya leaves have to be pounded and crushed. The juice of the crushed leaves has to be strained with the help of cloth. Only the leaf of papaya has to be used and not any other part of papaya tree. Juice extracted from two leaves is usually sufficient for a day. The juice shouldn’t be boiled or mixed with any other ingredient to alter the taste. It should be consumed raw. The enzymes in the papaya juice help in reducing the inflamed mucosal lining of the stomach and intestine. It increases the platelet count and reduces the toxins of dengue virus.
- Caripill Tablet, a natural tablet available at any pharmacy, is the extract of the papaya leaf. Always remember to see an Ayurveda physician who will prescribe the right dosage for the medicine.
- The Tulsi leaf is another good herb to increase the immunity of an individual during the dengue fever. Tulsi leaves are crushed and made into small balls and consumed with black pepper. A decoction made with 15 to 20 tulsi leaves, crushed and boiled with one glass of water until it is reduced to half can be consumed twice a day to strengthen the body.
- Shunti Churna (Ginger powder) with Hinguleshwara (Ayurveda Rasa Aushadha) is another recommended natural medicine for reducing the symptoms of dengue.
- Fenugreek seeds can be boiled and consumed. Fenugreek leaves can be boiled and used as tea too.
- Other Ayurvedic formulations like Amruthottara kashaya, Amritharishta, Sudharshanaghana vati, Hinguleshwara Rasa, Mrityunjaya rasa are also commonly prescribed.
- Chyavanaprash can be taken to increase the immunity.
Always remember that following a healthy, appropriate diet helps in recovery from dengue fever. One must:
- Avoid oily, fried, junk, spicy, sour, salty food.
- Avoid bakery and dairy products.
- Consume rice porridge, khichadi/ pongal that is easily digestible.
- Drink tea made of ginger, tulsi, cardamom, lemon.
- Pomegranate juice will help in increasing the blood.
- Consuming orange juice helps to improve the anti-bodies and it replenishes the body.
Prevention is better than cure, so it is equally important to take preventive steps to ensure there is no breeding of mosquitoes thereby preventing dengue, malaria and any other mosquito related diseases away.
- Timely cleaning of the gutters helps to prevent breeding of mosquitoes.
- Stagnant water is a place for mosquitoes to breed so avoid unnecessary storage of water.
- Use mosquito’s net and window nets.
- Tulsi is extremely effective in killing the mosquito larvae and keeping them away. So plant a Tulsi in your home and keep it on your windows.
- Camphor acts as a very effective mosquito repellent. Burning camphor in a closed room for 20 minutes helps keep mosquitoes away.
- Application of Neem oil as mosquito repellent. This can be mixed with coconut oil and applied when outside the house or at the time of travel.
- Growing plants like mint, lemon grass and marigold inside your compound or inside home not only enhances the beauty of your home but the fragrance of these plats act as natural mosquito repellents.
- Burn some Sambrani/ Guggulu in an earthen pot along with some charcoal and mix in some powdered neem and mustard. This not only avoids mosquitoes from entering the home but also acts like a room freshener.
Caution: The remedies suggested above are good to follow at the earlier stages. If a patient’s platelet count is too low and the body is dehydrated, then it might be necessary to undergo a platelet transfusion to maintain levels. Please ensure you consult a good doctor in time to avoid any complications and for better cure.