While the aedes aegypti mosquito spreads dengue fever, and the Health Department is doing its best to educate Hawaii residents in reducing the epidemic, how can we go about preventing dengue fever using natural remedies or treating dengue in the event we get infected? Our best protection is to educate ourselves and learn all we can so we can make wise decisions regarding our health and that of our family. So here is some pertinent information on dengue fever.
What is Dengue Fever?
Dengue fever is also known as “breakbone fever”. Dengue fever is caused by four related viruses (DEN-1, DEN-2, DEN-3 or DEN-4). The Dengue virus is a member of the virus family Flaviviridae. This acute flu like illness is related to those that cause yellow fever and West Nile virus infection.
How is it transmitted?
Dengue fever virus is not contagious. It is not spread from person to person. It requires a vector, a mosquito that allows the virus to mature within the mosquito before the mosquito can effectively transfer the viruses to humans. However, if a person is bitten by a mosquito that carries Aedes aegypti virus during the initial febrile period of the dengue infection, the mosquito may become infected and transmit the dengue virus to the next person through its bite. Once infected, a mosquito is capable of transmitting the virus to susceptible individuals for the rest of its life. (Only females bite, and they live 6 to 8 weeks) The dengue virus circulates in the blood of the infected humans for 3-14 days (average 4 to 6 days).
What are the Symptoms?
Symptoms include sudden onset of fever, headache, muscle and joint pains. In some cases, rash (similar to measles) are accompanied by severe headache, retroorbital pain (pain behind the eyes), backache, sore throat, and abdominal pain.
The patients become lethargic and experience anorexia and nausea.
In a small proportion of cases, the disease can develop into the life-threatening dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF) and dengue shock syndrome (DSS), resulting in bleeding, low levels of blood platelets, dehydration, low blood pressure, rapid & weak pulse. These patients often require additional supportive treatments and hospitalization.
Most people recover fully, although weakness and fatigue may last for several weeks.
Incubation period: Symptoms of infection usually start about four to 15 days (typically four to seven days) after a mosquito bite transfers the viruses to the human. In most instances, the disease lasts about 3 to 10 days.
Can dengue infection recur in a previously infected person?
After a person is infected with dengue, they develop an immune response to that dengue subtype. Infection with one type does not provide long term protection against other strains. There is also evidence that the risk of developing DHF/DSS is increased in the persons previously infected by another type.
There is no specific antiviral treatment currently available for dengue fever. Bed rest and acetaminophen (Tylenol) to treat fever and pain are recommended. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents (aspirin (Bayer, Ecotrin), ibuprofen (Motrin), and other NSAIDs) should be avoided because of the tendency of the dengue viruses to cause hemorrhages.
Rehydration and blood testing can be necessary procedures that allopathic doctors perform.
Preventative Precautions to Keep Dengue Fever at Bay
Everyone is being urged to take precautions against mosquito infections. Together we can do it.
- The best way to reduce mosquitoes is to eliminate the places inside and around your home where the mosquito lays her eggs. Stagnant water is a breeding ground for the mosquitoes so remove, or empty any container that may hold water including pails and buckets, pet bowls, gutters, coolers, old tires, birth baths, recycling bins, and flower pots, etc…
- Treat bromeliads and other plants that hold water. Flush weekly and spray with soapy water or chemical treatment.
- Make sure your window and door screens do not have any holes. If so, block or repair those areas.
- Apply mosquito repellents during the day as well as at night on a regular basis. Most commercial repellents contain DEET. Many studies suggest DEET may have harmful effects, including brain damage. Use natural insect-repellant lotions, apply often on the skin, as it wears off quickly (see recipe below)
- Mosquitoes are attracted to certain chemical compounds on your skin, carbon dioxide, movement, heat and dark colors; they can sniff you out from 100 feet away. Wear long-sleeved shirts, pants and socks to protect yourself. Wear white or light colored clothing when you are likely to be exposed to mosquitoes bites.
- Try to avoid outside activities at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are more active.
- Fix leaky faucets and outdoor hoses that are dripping water.
- Clean the gutter so water runs freely.
- If possible use mosquito netting over beds.
- Electric mosquito zapper: It is a mechanical device that uses ultraviolet light to attract mosquitoes and then kills them with its lethal dose of electricity. The side effect of this device is that it kills also the good bugs.
- Make your own mosquito trap (check numerous sites on the internet)
Natural Health Strategies
Diet Management – In order to fight the virus that affects the body, it is important to eat a healthy diet:
- Eat and Drink Vegetables: Consumptions of fresh juices of carrots, cucumber, green leafy vegetables, cod liver oil, flax seed oils and fresh fruits help to improve platelet count.
- Porridge: Remember to always give pureed and soft foods for people with dengue fever. Porridge is easily swallowed and digested, and has plenty of fluids.
- Barley grass: Increase the blood platelet count of the body by stimulating more blood cells production.
- Avoid saturated fats, refined sugar, processed food, salty, oily, and spicy food, and “junk” food.
- Papaya leaf extract: Juice is prepared from crushed papaya and leaves. According to the 2011 research Journal of Ethnopharmacology, papaya leaves have anti- malarial properties. The complex mix of nutrients can cause a rise in your platelet count, the high levels of vitamin C help stimulate the immune system, and the antioxidants help to reduce oxidative stress and eliminate excess toxins in the blood. Doctors in India often give 2 /3 tablespoons of papaya leaf juice in the morning and evening for dengue patients.
- Hydrate throughout the day: Dengue patients need lots of fluids. Apart from drinking plenty of water, take orange and lime juice, watermelon, pomegranate, guava, kiwi, and papaya juice. Drinks containing electrolytes such as coconut water are recommended.
- Ginger water: Drink ginger water as it reduces the effects of nausea that often is experienced.
Herbal Medicine Management
Herbal medicine stimulates the immune system as a whole, helping the body to fight infection, bacteria and viruses by increasing the amount of white blood cells.
- Echinacea angustifolia: Boosts the immune system and reduces many of the symptoms of colds, flu and some other viral infections conditions.
- Astragalus (Huang Qi) Tonifies the body’s energy/Qi levels. Traditionally, this herb is known to boost the immune system, particularly for respiratory infections and increases the production of Interferon.
- Goldenseal: Helps to ease vomiting, nausea; headaches, chills and fevers as well as its natural antiviral capacity.
- Neem leaves: Properly brewed leaves can help to improve the body’s immune system. Helps to increase the white blood cell and platelet count.
- Yarrow, elderflower and peppermint diaphoretic tea blend; These herbs are amphoteric, meaning that they can lower body temperature if it is too high.
- Fenugreek: It is known for reducing fever and it acts as a sedative to promote restful sleep and ease pain of the patients.
- Fu Fang E Jiao Jiang: According to “You Sufu”, a public health expert from Indonesia this is a traditional Chinese medicine used for improving hemoglobin and lowering hematocrit to a stable level.
- Quinine: from Chinchona bark, is added to tonic water as a prophylactic against malaria. As with other quinoline antimalarial drugs, the mechanism of action of quinine is not fully understood.
Homeopathy for Dengue has been used successfully in other countries such as India, and Brazil. The selection of homoeopathic remedies depends upon the individual symptoms. Homeopathy may not totally prevent dengue, but at least it attenuates the symptoms, and makes for a milder case of the illness.
- Dengue Prevention Formula: Ana Teresa Doria Dreux, Professor CRM from Brazil recommends RHUS TOX/ EUPATORIUM PERF/ CHINA OFF/ LEDUM PALUSTRE/ GELSEMIUM formula, 6 C dilution. Take 3 globules once a day while the epidemic season lasts. Another formula from Dana Ullman MPH, CCH, a leader in homeopathy is Eupatorium perfoliatum, Crotalus, Phosphorus, Natrum Muriaticum and Arsenicum.
- Dengue Treatment Formula: Take the above formulas, 3 globules every two hours. As the symptoms improve, take once every 3 hours, and once every 4 hours, etc… until complete remission of the symptoms.
- Eupatorium Perfoliatum: 30C is the remedy for severe muscle and bone/joint pains with high fever. Take twice a day during the outbreak.
- Ledum: Ledum palustre is the remedy for “puncture wounds” and therefore a good first aid remedy to prevent the ill effects of mosquito bites including infectious diseases associated with mosquitos.
- Normal Dengue Fever: Eupatorium perfolium 200 or 1M can be taken once daily for three days and subsequently at least two doses a week at the interval of three to four day till the epidemic persist for the prevention of dengue fever. Furthermore Arsenic alb + Bryonia + Echinacea angustifolia + Ledum pal + Rhus tox in 30 potency should be taken once in a day for at least 2 weeks.
- In case of High Fever: Take Aconite 1M and Eupatorium 1M alternatively, after every 30 minutes immediately on start fever. Just take 3 doses of each remedy. If the symptoms persist, contact your physician.
- In dengue hemorrhagic fever (DFH): Add the following two medicines to the above treatment: Phosphorus 12c, Crotalus 12c Take 4 globules in the evening until the platelets return to normal. China, Ipecac and Arsenic Album is another formula. These remedies are not to replace any necessary medical services.
Vitamins / Minerals Management
- Vitamin B1 as a mosquito repellant: Sold as Betamine in pharmacies. Vitamin B1 make the blood bitter and produces a skin odor that female mosquitoes seem to find offensive. Take 100mg daily.
- B complex: Take a high dosage. Mosquitoes hate the taste of Vit B. Food that are rich in B vitamins are egg yolk, brewer’s yeast, liver, and whole grains.
- Vitamin C: Vitamin C at sufficiently high doses can help viral disease, enhance functions of the immune system. It strengthens the immune system and collagen. Dose 500 mg 6 x day.
- Zinc: Assist the normal functioning of the immune system. Zinc deficiency is extremely common. Zinc is key to proper T cell and Natural Killer Cell function activity. Dose 25mg once daily.
ACUPUNCTURE FOR DENGUE FEVER
Do not underestimate the power of acupuncture to treat pain and fever. Acupuncture and electro acupuncture leads to the release of endorphins and these are powerful natural pain killers. It also lowers inflammation, and strengthens the immune system.
MAKE YOUR OWN MOSQUITOES REPELLANT
This natural homemade insect repellent is great for mosquitos, flies, and other annoying bugs. Tweak to your liking and apply with confidence.
– Witch Hazel or vodka: 2 tbsp. of one or in combination
– Oils: mix neem oil with coconut oil in a 1:1 ratio.
– Essential oils:
– 55 drops lemon eucalyptus essential oil (not recommended for use on children under 3 yrs.
– 15 drops cedarwood essential oil
– 15 drops lavender augustifolia essential oil
-15 drops rosemary essential oil
– Cinnamon leaf oil
Directions: Fill spray bottle and shake well before each use. Natural bug repellent will need to be reapplied every few hours for maximum effectiveness. Length of protection varies with the amount of activities, temperature and other factors.
Other Bug-Repelling Essential Oils you can use: citronella, tea tree, peppermint, cypress, rose, geranium, bergamot, lemon grass, clove and catnip. (Java Citronella is considered the highest quality citronella on the market).
Additional Tips and Warnings:
– Women who are pregnant or nursing should consult a health practitioner before using essential oil.
– Extreme caution should be used when using essential oils on young children.
– Always perform a patch test to check for an allergic reaction before using an essential oil for the first time.
– Dark-colored bottles work best for products containing essential oils. Store in a cool, dark place when not using.
Alvita Soleil is a Doctor of Oriental Medicine, healer, teacher, and artist. In practice since 1982, she is the co-owner of the Aloha Health Clinic in Kamuela. For more information visit alohawellnessretreat.com or dr.alvitasoleil.com
The content of this article is provided for informational and educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please seek the professional advice of a physician or other qualified medical practitioner regarding your condition.
References: www. health.hawaii.gov, state of department of health, center for disease control, http://www.EMedicineHealth, http://www.tcmwell.com, http://www.inbali.org, www.natural cures.com, http://www.healthline.com, http://www.stanford.edu, http://www.drhomeo.com