The present weather and environmental conditions have triggered a spate of illness in Mumbai and Navi Mumbai. The most prevalent is viral fevers and flu, accompanied with coughs, colds, sore throats and even tummy upsets. The present virus/es doing the rounds seem to be quite strong and are affecting a wide number of our population; however, those with strong immunities are able to throw off the illness in a few days. There have been several cases of the specific Swine Flu but we must remember that it is now no longer the dreaded illness it was supposed to be a couple of years ago – it is now as good or bad as any other seasonal flu. The other illnesses going around are malaria and dengue.

Today, I wish to talk about Dengue. It is another dreaded illness, caused by viruses that are transmitted by mosquitoes. The danger of dengue lies in its ability to reduce the platelet count in the body drastically, thereby triggering bleeding, internal or external which may lead to death. Conventional medicine has no treatment/cure for the dengue itself – the treatment is only supportive and aims to support the system and relieve symptoms (not cure) until the dengue runs its course. In this article, I will be describing a method which removes this danger of reducing platelets in a safe, gentle and cost-effective manner – almost a type of home remedy which has also been scientifically proven but is not used in most cases, probably due to ignorance of this method by the medical profession.

First let us talk about how Dengue presents in our system. Dengue is an illness that occurs in tropical and sub-tropical climates. Symptoms are headache, fever, weakness, severe joint and muscle pains, swelling of glands and rash. The triad of fever, rash and headache (and other pains) are characteristic of dengue. The acute phase of the illness – fever and pains – lasts for 1-2 weeks. In most cases, Dengue follows a benign, non-dangerous course. It tends to be more severe in people who already have weakened immune systems. Dengue haemorrhagic fever is a more severe type of the illness where there may be petechiae (small red or purple splotches of bleeding under the skin), bleeding from the nose and gums, black stools (indicative of an internal bleed), or easy bruising – all possible signs of haemorrhage. This can become life-threatening and can result in Dengue Shock Syndrome.

The virus is contracted from the bite of a striped Aedes aegypti mosquito that has previously bitten an infected person. Direct transmission of the virus cannot occur – it needs the person-mosquito-another person route. The mosquito flourishes during the rainy season but can breed in water-filled flower pots, plastic bags and cans all the year round. After being bitten by an infected mosquito, there is an incubation period that ranges from 3-15 days before the signs and symptoms are manifest. It starts with chills, headache, pain behind the eyes and upon moving the eyes and low backache. Aching in the legs and joints occurs in the initial hours. The temperature rises high rapidly (upto even 104 or 105 degrees F) with relatively low pulse and low BP. The eyes redden. A pale pink rash or flush comes over the face and disappears. The lymph node glands in the armpits and groin may swell. The fever and other signs last 2-4 days followed by a rapid drop in temperature and profuse sweating. Then there may be a day with no fever and a feeling of well-being. A second rise in temperature follows along with the characteristic rash that spreads from the extremities throughout the body except the face. Palms and soles may be bright red and swollen.

Typical dengue is fatal in less than 1% of cases and complications usually arise in those with weakened immune systems or in those who have taken aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. The acute phase lasts 1-2 weeks and recovery takes several weeks and is accompanied by weakness.

Dengue haemorrhagic fever is accompanied with respiratory and abdominal symptoms like sore throat, cough, tummy pains, nausea, vomiting. Shock can occur after some days due to the haemorrhagic complications with sudden collapse. This form of dengue has significant mortality.

As mentioned earlier, conventional medicine treatment is purely symptomatic, aiming to relieve the symptoms while the course of the dengue lasts. Rest is important as is the need to keep the body hydrated. Pain relievers are often given to ease the headache and joint pains. Patients often take over-the-counter medications by themselves but it is important not to randomly take aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs as these can worsen the situation in dengue and cause bleeding complications. For patients whose platelet counts drop alarmingly, transfusions of platelets are given.

General Precautions:
Empty stagnant water from containers, old tyres, trash cans and flower pots. This helps to eradicate the mosquitoes that carry the virus. Avoid getting bitten by mosquitoes by wearing long pants and tops/shirts with long sleeves. The Aedes aegypti mosquito is a daytime biter with peak biting time around sunrise and sunset.

Homoeopathic Treatment:
The remedy Eupatorium Perfoliatum is useful as a preventive. Please consult a homoeopath for proper potency and dosage instructions as they may vary for different patients with different susceptibilities. For those in whom dengue symptoms manifest, treatment with homoeopathic remedies is possible and very effective. Recovery is quick and the general weakness is lessened. There are remedies which even treat the haemorrhagic form of dengue.

Effective Home Remedy: PAPAYA LEAF JUICE
Now I come to the important home remedy which I want to spread awareness about. Papaya leaves play an important role in treatment and prevention of haemorrhagic complications. Studies conducted in different countries like Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Austria have all found it effective. They have found that papaya leaves have substances responsible for the release and/or production of platelets. The leaves are high in complex vitamins that help bone marrow to rapidly produce new platelets.

Normal platelets have a life span of about 5-10 days in our body. The body replenishes them as required. During the active phase of the virus in the body, the virus reduces the body’s ability to manufacture platelets. Hence the platelet count starts to drop. Usual normal platelet count varies from 1,50,000/cmm – 4,50,000/cmm. A platelet count below 1,00,000/cmm is alarming and requires attention. If the count drops below 30,000/cmm, it prevents clots from forming and spontaneous bleeding can start which is dangerous and requires hospitalization.

Leaves from a fruit bearing tree are to be used. The stem and thick veins should be removed. Wash with clean water and crush/grind. Squeeze by hand to extract the juice which has to be consumed fresh. Some sources recommend 10 ml twice a day for adults and 5 ml twice a day for children between 5 and 12 years. Crushing two leaves in a tablespoon of water and drinking the strained juice for two consecutive days has also been found effective. The platelet count rises within a few hours of taking the papaya leaf juice. It is better to take the papaya leaf juice early in the illness. When given early, patients recover quickly, thus preventing the need for hospitalization. In the final stages, when multiple organ failure has occurred, benefit is minimal.

Benefits of papaya leaf juice:

  • Improves platelet and white blood cell counts.
  • Normalises the clotting profile.
  • Improves liver function and repairs the damage done to the liver due to the dengue virus.

So stay healthy and if dengue does occur, treat it safely, gently and surely!