Did you know that 3.9 billion people across the world are estimated to be at risk of catching dengue? Dengue is an infection caused by four closely related serotypes of a virus (DEN-1, DEN-2, DEN-3, and DEN-4). The dengue virus is spread mostly by the Aedes aegypti mosquito. Dengue is usually prevalent in warm and wet parts of the world and outbreaks generally occur during the rainy season.
Dengue causes a high fever and other symptoms like an intense headache, joint pain, pain behind your eyes, swollen glands, a rash, and vomiting. These symptoms usually only last for 2 to 7 days. But sometimes this disease can turn into a severe form known as dengue hemorrhagic fever, where you see intense abdominal pain, rapid breathing, bleeding beneath your skin or from your gums and nose, blood in your vomit etc. So are there any ways to tackle it naturally? Here’s a look at some measures that can help.1 2
Home Remedies For Dengue
Currently, there is no prescribed medicine for dengue. But some simple measures like taking sufficient rest and drinking plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration can be helpful. The natural remedies suggested below are also considered useful in dealing with dengue. But do keep your doctor posted before adopting any herbal or natural treatments. If you have symptoms of dengue hemorrhagic fever, seek urgent medical attention as this form of dengue can be fatal.
1. Use Papaya Leaves
Dengue can cause the destruction of your blood platelets and result in a condition called thrombocytopenia where you have an abnormally low number of platelets. And a drop in your blood platelets can cause external as well as internal bleeding.3 According to research, papaya leaves can prevent platelet destruction due to cell membrane rupture and treat the thrombocytopenia associated with dengue.4
How to use: Juice around 50g of papaya leaves and consume the juice 15 minutes after breakfast for 3 days.5 Do note, however, that papaya leaves are not recommended if you’re pregnant, breastfeeding, or trying for a baby.
2. Try Neem
Neem has been traditionally used in Southeast Asian communities to treat fevers. As it turns out, it can be helpful if you have dengue too. In one study, neem leaf extract was found to be effective in inhibiting the dengue virus type-2.6
How to use: Drink the juice of neem leaves twice a day. Or eat around 5 to 8 neem leaves in the morning.
3. Have Tawa Tawa
A herb called Tawa Tawa is commonly used to treat dengue in the Philippines. According to research, Tawa Tawa extract promotes the development of blood platelets, stops hemorrhaging, and prevents further bleeding. People who were treated with this herb in one study showed an improvement in their platelet count as well as a marked reduction of fever and flu-like symptoms.7
How to use: Drinking a glass of Tawa Tawa tea 3 to 4 times in a day can be helpful. To prepare Tawa Tawa tea, take 5 whole Tawa Tawa plants and cut off their roots. Wash the plants properly and boil them in clean water. Strain and allow the tea to cool. Drink up!
4. Drink Tulsi Tea
Tulsi is thought to strengthen immunity and protect against infection in the first place. It is used traditionally to fight fever. Tulsi extract has also been found to have a slight inhibitory effect against DENV-1.8
How to use: You can consume fresh tulsi leaves. You can also prepare a tea using these medicinal leaves. Simmer 15 leaves in around 200ml of water till the water reduces to half. Take this tea twice or thrice in a day.
5. Try Homeopathic Remedies
Homeopathy has a number of remedies for treating dengue and its symptoms. Consult a homeopathic doctor who will prescribe a combination of homeopathic drugs for treating dengue. For instance, Aconitum napellus (monkshood) is effective against high fever while Bryonia alba (white bryony) and Eupatorium perfoliatum (Boneset) can be therapeutic for bone fever and pain behind the eyeballs. Eupatorium perfoliatum is considered useful for common dengue and Crotalus horridus (consisting of the venom of timber rattlesnake) may be prescribed for dengue hemorrhagic fever.9
Since there is no specific medication for dengue, preventing the infection becomes all the more important. Prevention of this disease is mostly focused on avoiding being bitten by mosquitoes which carry the virus.
1. Remove Stagnant Water
The mosquitos that transmit the dengue virus breed in stagnant water. Make sure that there are no artificial containers holding water in or near your home. Take care that water storage containers are covered. Clean and empty flower vases and water dishes used for pets.
2. Use A Larvicide
Chemical pesticides and biological agents that kill the eggs of mosquitoes are often used to control the mosquito population in places like ponds and water fountains.10 The essential oils of plants like sweet basil and sweet flag show larvicidal activity against the mosquito that spreads dengue. While further studies will help determine how they can be used most effectively, they still can come in handy to control the spread of mosquitoes.11
Fogging operations are often carried out with insecticides to kill or knock down disease-carrying mosquitoes. Looking for a natural variant? Citronella oil, which is present in lemongrass oil, can work as a fumigant and drive away mosquitoes when burnt in lanterns and candles. Do be warned though that it might not be as effective as a chemical insecticide.12
4. Use A Mosquito Repellent
To protect yourself against mosquitoes, use a mosquito repellant on your skin when you go out. While effective chemical repellents are available, neem oil can be a good option if you’re looking for something natural. One study found that applying neem oil diluted with coconut oil provided 85% protection against Aedes mosquito. It was also found to afford 96 to 100% protection against the Anopheline mosquito which spreads malaria.13 Wearing pants and long-sleeved shirts can also protect you from mosquito bites.
5. Get Screens And Bed Nets
Use screens on your door and windows to prevent mosquitoes from entering your home. If you live in a region where diseases like dengue, malaria, or chikungunya which are spread by mosquitoes are endemic, it also makes sense to use a bed net while sleeping.14
6. Get Vaccinated
Check with your doctor to see if it makes sense for you to get vaccinated against dengue. The first dengue vaccination was registered in some countries toward the end of 2015. This vaccine – Dengvaxia (CYD-TDV) – is meant for the use of people between the ages of 9 and 45. The World Health Organization recommends that it be used only in geographical areas where dengue is endemic. Also, do keep in mind that the vaccine does not offer complete immunity against dengue.15
7. Use Prevention Techniques From Homeo
Homeopathic remedies may be effective in preventing dengue in the first place. In the county of Macaé in Rio de Janeiro, 156,000 doses of a homeopathic remedy consisting of Phosphorus 30cH, Crotalus horridus 30cH, and Eupatorium perfoliatum 30cH were distributed to asymptomatic patients in the months of May and April 2007. It was observed that in the first three months of 2008 the incidence of the disease fell 93% in comparison to the corresponding period in 2007. There was an increase of 128% in the rest of the State of Rio de Janeiro. This suggests that homeopathy may be effective as an adjunct in preventing dengue outbreaks.16 Speak to a homeopath to check out your options.
|↑1, ↑15||Dengue and severe dengue. World Health Organization.|
|↑2||Dengue. National Institutes of Health.|
|↑3||What Is Thrombocytopenia? National Institutes of Health.|
|↑4||Sarala, N., and S. S. Paknikar. “Papaya extract to treat dengue: a novel therapeutic option?.” Annals of medical and health sciences research 4, no. 3 (2014): 320-324.|
|↑5||Subenthiran, Soobitha, Tan Chwee Choon, Kee Chee Cheong, Ravindran Thayan, Mok Boon Teck, Prem Kumar Muniandy, Adlin Afzan, Noor Rain Abdullah, and Zakiah Ismail. “Carica papaya leaves juice significantly accelerates the rate of increase in platelet count among patients with dengue fever and dengue haemorrhagic fever.” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2013 (2013).|
|↑6||Parida, M. M., C. Upadhyay, G. Pandya, and A. M. Jana. “Inhibitory potential of neem (Azadirachta indica Juss) leaves on dengue virus type-2 replication.” Journal of ethnopharmacology 79, no. 2 (2002): 273-278.|
|↑7||Mir, Munazza, Rukhshan Khurshid, and Roohi Aftab. “Management of thrombocytopenia and flu-like symptoms in dengue patients with herbal water of Euphorbia hirta.” J Ayub Med Coll Abbottabad 24 (2012): 6-9.|
|↑8||Tang, Leon IC, Anna PK Ling, Rhun Y. Koh, Soi M. Chye, and Kenny GL Voon. “Screening of anti-dengue activity in methanolic extracts of medicinal plants.” BMC complementary and alternative medicine 12, no. 1 (2012): 3.|
|↑9||Saeed-ul-Hassan, Syed, Imran Tariq, Ayesha Khalid, and Sabiha Karim. “Comparative clinical study on the effectiveness of homeopathic combination remedy with standard maintenance therapy for dengue fever.” Tropical Journal of Pharmaceutical Research 12, no. 5 (2013): 767-770.|
|↑10||LARVICIDES AND LARVICIDING. UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA.|
|↑11||Manzoor, F., K. B. Samreen, and Z. Parveen. “Larvicidal activity of essential oils against Aedes aegypti and Culex quinquefasciatus larvae (Diptera: Culicidae).” J. Anim. Plant Sci 23, no. 2 (2013): 420-424.|
|↑12||Qadir, Muhammad Imran, Khizar Abbas, Madeha Tahir, Muhammad Irfan, Syeda Fiza Raza Bukhari, Bilal Ahmed, Muhammad Hanif, Akhtar Rasul, and Muhammad Ali. “Dengue fever: Natural management.” Pakistan journal of pharmaceutical sciences 28, no. 2 (2015).|
|↑13||Sharma, S. K., V. K. Dua, and V. P. Sharma. “Field studies on the mosquito repellent action of neem oil.” The Southeast Asian journal of tropical medicine and public health 26, no. 1 (1995): 180-182.|
|↑14||Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.|
|↑16||de Souza Nunes, Laila Aparecida. “Contribution of homeopathy to the control of an outbreak of dengue in Macaé, Rio de Janeiro.” International Journal of High Dilution Research 7, no. 25 (2008): 186-192.|