Dengue fever also known as "break-bone fever", a disease of the tropics caused by a virus called Flavivirus. Symptoms include fever, headache, muscle & joint pains & a characteristic skin rash that is similar to measles.
The classic combination of fever, rash, and headache are called the "dengue triad." Risk factors include your age (young and old), the strength of your immune system and genetic predisposition. The current dengue outbreak has got me thinking....Yes the council has told us how to prevent the spread of dengue by eradicating hiding places for the Aedes aegypti mosquito, but how can we go about either preventing dengue using natural remedies or treating dengue in the event we get infected?
After the virus has been transmitted, a period of incubation occurs which lasts for about 5-8 days during which the virus multiplies. After symptoms appear, the initial period of illness lasts about 2-3 days. Most people recover fully, although weakness and fatigue may last for several weeks.
So What's the Alternative to Treat Dengue?
Natural Mosquito Repellents
The essential oil citronella, available from pharmacies, is an effective mosquito repellent and can be used safely on children under 12 months unlike the other products. I make a mix of lavender, eucalyptus, tea tree, citronella and calendula oil (all equal parts for my 4 month old). It is soothes mosquito bites and prevents them going tropo.
Make the blood bitter with quinine
Without a doubt some of us are more attractive to mosquitoes. I am one of those people with sweet Irish blood, (plenty of molasses in Guinness). We have all heard how, during the height of the British Empire, the Brits evaded Malaria and potentially other vector borne (mosquito spread) diseases by drinking G& T. Quinine, made from Cinchona bark, was 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, although naturopathically speaking, bitters make the blood taste bitter and therefore not so appealing to mosquitoes. "Not as sweet as some". So whether it be G&T or V&T, (add angustoura bitters also) also or just tonic water....Chin Chin!
Vitamin B1 as a mosquito repellent
Sold as Betamine in pharmacies. Again the scientific jury as to how it works is out playing golf. Again naturopathically speaking B1 makes the blood bitter and unattractive to mosquitoes. If you smell the tablets you will understand. It takes about 1 week to kick in. I doubled the dose to begin with and my anecdotal evidence is finding it very effective.
Herbs and Supplements to Ward of Dengue
Interferon, our body's own Antidengue
In relation to preventative measures, there is not much we can do about age and genes, however, there is a lot we can do to boost "Natural Immunity". Our body has it's own antiviral army, the white blood cells. The General of the Army is called Interferon. Interferons are released in response to disease. Interferon then commands soldiers called, macrophages, cytotoxic T cells and Natural Killer Cells, to attack viruses, including dengue, but also bacteria, parasites and cancer cells.
Carahealth Immune Tonic contains the following recommended Dengue Preventative herbs along with 3 more antivirals.
Herbal Medicine to boost interferon
Many herbal medicines stimulate the immune system. Rather than fighting a specific disease though, 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 to ward off symptoms. As Dengue is a viral disease, herbal anti-virals are indicated. Many of these boost Interferon.
Echinacea boost interferon to defend against Dengue
Echinacea is an immune stimulant. In 2007, the leading peer-reviewed medical journal, 'The Lancet Infectious Diseases' published a review of randomised clinical trials, finding that echinacea can cut the risk of catching a cold by 58% and could reduce the duration of infection by one and a half days. As colds are viral, Echinacea will also treat and prevent Dengue. Echinacea naturally boosts Interferon and therefore stimulates the whole immune system.
Astragalus boost interferon to defend against Dengue
Astragalus has been around in Chinese medicine for two thousand years. It is known as Huang Qi because it tonifies the body's energy/Qi levels. Traditionally, this herb is known to boost the immune system, particularly for respiratory infections. Like Echinacea, Astragalus also increases the production of Interferon. Research suggests that Astragalus as an adaptogen, is able to "offers up" viruses so that they are easier for the immune system to see.
Supplements to boost interferon
Vitamin C increases interferon to defend against Dengue
When we are challenged with a viral infection, our need for vitamin C rises dramatically. Vitamin C at sufficiently high doses can prevent viral disease and greatly speed recovery from an acute viral infection. Vitamin C enhances several functions of the immune system, in particluar the production of Interferon, which helps prevent cells from being infected by a virus. Dose 500 mg 6 x day.
Zinc increases interferon to defend against Dengue
Zinc is the main nutrient nutrient to assist the normal functioning of the immune system. Unfortunately, zinc deficiency is extremely common. Zinc is key to proper T cell and Natural Killer Cell function activity. Zinc supplementation increases production of Interferon our body's own anti-viral. Dose 25mg once daily.
Homeopathic Medicine to Defend Against Dengue
Homeopathic treatment is effectively used on a large scale in India to prevent and treat Dengue fever. A homeopath distinguishes what are called strange, rare and peculiar symptoms and the modalities that ameliorate or aggravate (make better or worse) the patient's condition, in order to choose a remedy that is the closest mirror image of the disease symptoms totality. This is known as the Law of Similars. The following are the best general remedies;
Eupatorium Perfoliatum is the remedy for "bone pain" and is indicated to treat Dengue Fever. Eupatorium also has a reputation as a Dengue preventative. For this it should be used twice a week but please remember that use of this medicine should not urge you to ignore other preventive measures and see a homeopath.
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 mosquitoes. It is the best first aid homeopathic medicine to have in your kit over the summer months when the mosquitoes are out.
The Dengue Fever
Fevers are not dangerous. It is the expression of a healthy immune system and a strong Vital Force fighting the Dengue virus. From my experience there is one common thread in all my patients with cancer, chronic degenerative disease and autoimmune disease, this is that they do not get fevers so please be happy that you have one.
A fever inhibits toxins and clears waste from the tissues, lymph and blood, on which bacteria feed and multiply. Killer T-cells are increased, as are neutrophils and macrophages, which are the white blood cells responsible for destroying invaders. Fever IS NOT DANGEROUS unless the temperature is over 101°F (38.3°C) in an infant, 103°F (39.4°C) in a child or 104°F (40°C) in an adult. During a fever of 38-40 degrees Celsius our immune system is down regulated. Essentially this means the immune system is disciplined so that it learns not to overreact and attack itself causing autoimmune disease. Please see also The Naturopathic Causes and Treatment of Autoimmune Disease.
I use YEP (yarrow, elderflower and peppermint) tea, a blend of what is called diaphoretic herbs, which promote sweating to lower temperature. These herbs are also amphoteric, meaning that they can lower body temperature if it is too high, or actually work to raise body temperature in a low grade fever ie. 37 degrees Celsius. By dilating the peripheral blood vessels, these herbs also naturally lower blood pressure.
Basically to manage a fever, if the patient feels cold the temperature is on the way up, if they are sweating the fever has broken and the temperature is on the way down. So if your baby is 38 and dry and shivering then put them in a tepid bath and use Yep tea. I also use acupuncture and homeopathics to lower body temperature instantly. With 7 children I have a lot of experience but you too can get experience and gain confidence.
I understand that this really challenges some peoples' beliefs, but what I am saying is, for ther best part, ditch the paracetamol and ibuprofen and go back to old school medicine your grandmother would have told you.
Acupuncture for Dengue fever
Dengue Fever isn't also known as "break-bone fever" for nothing. Do not underestimate the power of acupuncture to treat pain and fever. Regarding pain, acupuncture increases endorphins, enkephalins, endorphins and dynorphins our bodies own natural opiates. It also lowers inflammation.
Regarding fever, there are 2 primary points indicated, a point on the tip of the ear called Erjian and the points on the tips of the fingers, called The Jing Well Points. The treatment method is known as prick to bleed. Please note needling of these points can reduce body temperature by one degree instantly. Other points I use to regulate fever in Fever Management" are Fuliu Kidney 7 and Hegu LI 4. Hegu reduced, Fuliu reinforced when there is no sweating and Hegu reinforced Fuliu reduced when sweating is profuse and persistent.
Cupping therapy or Baguan is very effective to take redness out of a rash. I use what is known as "wet cupping" for this.
Natural Alternatives for the Dengue Rash
Again all of the above treats the cause which is the virus so will alleviate the rash naturally.
The following are known as antipruritic or anti-itch.
- Good Old Calamine Lotion
- Oats Avena sativa Add 1/2 kilo porridge to an old stocking, run under the bath water.
- Chickweed Stellaria media Available in creams from the health food shop.
- Peppermint Mentha piperita Try adding a few drops of peppermint oil to corn flour and use direct as you would for prickly heat.
- Witch Hazel Hamamelis virginiana is soothing and will take heat and itch out. Apply direct.
Carina Harkin BHSc.Nat.BHSc.Hom.BHSc.Acu.
Cert IV TAE.