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Malaria is a mosquito-borne disease caused by a parasite named Plasmodium. Fever and chills are the most common symptoms of malaria, however, if not treated on time, this condition may cause morbidity.

According to Ayurveda, the major clinical signs and symptoms of malaria, i.e., fevers and chills, are associated with vishama jwara (a type of fever). These type of fevers are either remittent or intermittent.

Ayurveda uses herbs like guduchi (heart-leaved moonseed) and nimba (neem) to treat malaria. These bitter-tasting herbs bring back the balance in vitiated doshas of the body. Ayurvedic treatment procedures like virechana (purgation) and basti (enema) help provide relief from the fevers that occur during malaria. The Ayurvedic formulations of Ayush 64, sudarshana churna, amrutarishta and guduchyadi kwatha are helpful in relieving malaria symptoms.

Using topical insect repellents, taking proper precautions while travelling to malaria-endemic regions, wearing long-sleeved clothing are some of the preventive measures that are effective against malaria.

  1. Ayurvedic view of malaria
  2. Ayurvedic treatment for malaria
  3. Ayurvedic herbs and medicines for malaria
  4. Dietary and lifestyle changes for malaria patients as per ayurveda
  5. How effective are ayurvedic medicines and treatments for malaria
  6. Side effects and risks of ayurvedic medicine and treatments for malaria
  7. Takeaway
  8. Doctors for Ayurvedic medicine, treatment and remedies for Malaria

As per Ayurveda, vishama jwara is of various types. Each type is characterised by its duration and the dhatu it affects. Following is a list of vishama fevers based on their duration and the dhatu affected:

  • Santata: Santata fever affects the rasa dhatu and lasts for 7, 10 or 12 days; it occurs continuously or irregularly.
  • Chaturthaka viparyaya: This fever occurs on every second and third day.
  • Satata: Satata fever affects the rakta dhatu and occurs twice within a day.
  • Tritiyaka: Tritiyaka type of fever affects the meda dhatu and occurs on every third day.
  • Chaturthaka: Chaturthaka type of fever affects the asthi and majja dhatus. This fever reoccurs every fourth day.
  • Anyedyushka: Anyedyushka fever affects the mamsa dhatu and occurs once in a day.

Other symptoms of malaria include fatigue, fever with rigours, headaches and vomiting. Fevers occur with shivering or sweating. According to Charaka, all types of vishama jwara involve the tridoshas (three doshas). However, most commonly it is due to a vitiation in vata dosha. Vishama jwara is known to cause shosha (thirst) and daha (burning), which affect the agni (digestive fire). Although vishama jwara is mainly caused due to mashaka (mosquitoes), an agantuka (external) cause, factors like consuming ruksha (dry) and ushna (hot) foods, sleeping during the day and getting angry also play a role in vitiating the doshas and causing the disease.

  • Virechana
    • Virechana therapy uses purgative herbs and tonics to eliminate excess doshas from the body via faeces. It particularly eliminates excess pitta.
    • Virechana helps heal poisoning, abscesses, eye problems and diseases such as jaundice, skin diseases, ulcers, colon pain and vaginal diseases.
    • Virechana is mainly performed in people with anyedyushka and tritiyaka type of fevers and is also indicated in those who have pitta as the dominant cause of vishama jwara.
  • Vamana (medical emesis)
    • Vamana therapy cleanses out the stomach and removes toxins and excess mucus from the system.
    • Vamana mainly eliminates excess kapha from the body. It helps heal obesity, acute fevers, rheumatic diseases, herpes, diabetes mellitus, skin conditions and gastroenteritis.
    • It is primarily indicated in people with santata fevers. Upavasa is recommended after vamana in these patients.
    • Consuming ruksha and pachaka (digestive) foods along with langhana (fasting) is also advised along with vamana in people with malarial fevers caused primarily due to vitiated kapha.
  • Basti
    • Basti therapy mainly targets at eliminating the excess vata from the body.
    • The herbs and formulations used in this therapy help bring back the balance in vata levels.
    • It promotes healing and rejuvenation in the entire body.
    • Niruha and anuvasana types of basti are used to treat chaturthaka malarial fevers and vishama jwara caused due to the vitiation of vata.

Ayurvedic herbs for malaria

  •  Guduchi
    • Guduchi is a bitter-sweet herb with potent blood-purifying properties.
    • It boosts the immune system in people with vitiation of all three doshas.
    • Guduchi improves digestion and treats many conditions such as gout and constipation.
    • Its has tonic and antimalarial properties which are not only helpful in relieving symptoms by also regaining health in case of malaria.
    • Guduchi improves health and builds up immunity in chemotherapy patients. It can also enhance the production of ojas in body.
    • You can take guduchi in the form of a powder or an extract or as per your physician’s direction.
  • Nimba
    • Nimba is a bitter-tasting herb that has antiviral and vermifuge properties.
    • It acts on the circulatory, urinary and digestive systems.
    • Its astringent, antiperiodic (prevents recurrence of diseases) and antimalarial properties make it useful in the treatment of malaria.
    • Nimba also has stomachic (appetite-increasing), stimulant and analgesic properties that provide relief from joint pain, skin conditions, obesity, jaundice and malaria.
    • You can take nimba in the form of a decoction, medicated ghrita (clarified butter), infusion, oil, powder or as per your physician’s direction.
  • Saptaparna (Indian devil tree)
    • Saptaparna is enriched with alkaloids and has katu (pungent) and ushna properties.
    • It acts as a tridoshaghna (pacifies all three doshas).
    • Saptaparna also has deepana (hunger-increasing), anulomana (purging), raktashodhaka properties.
    • Being a jwaraghna (fever-reducing) herb, it useful for treating malarial fevers.
    • Along with fevers, it is also effective in treating gulma (spleen disease), kushtha (skin diseases) and shoola (sharp and acute pain).
    • You can take saptaparna in the form of a decoction or as per your physician’s direction.
  • Amalaki (Indian gooseberry)
    • Amalaki is a sour-tasting herb that acts on the excretory, digestive and circulatory systems.
    • It acts as a nutritive tonic and promotes rejuvenation in the body.
    • Its haemostatic and tonic properties bring about stabilisation in the body. Amalaki is an antipyretic herb, which makes it helpful in treating malarial fevers.
    • Amalaki is used to treat many health conditions such as piles, stomach pain and liver weakness. It also improves the red blood cell count and regulates blood sugar levels.
    • Amalaki is generally given as a part of triphala (a combination of amalaki, vibhitaki [belleric myrobalan], and haritaki [chebulic myrobalan]) powder or with a decoction of musta (nutgrass) and guduchi to people with malaria.
    • You can take amalaki in the form of a decoction, powder, candied preparation or as per your physician’s direction.
  • Musta
    • Musta acts on the plasma tissues and on the digestive and circulatory systems.
    • It has demulcent (soothes mucous membranes), carminative, antifungal, anthelmintic and diuretic properties.
    • Musta provides relief from pain, cold, flu and fever. Therefore, it is useful for people with malarial fevers.
    • This herb is also effective in increasing appetite, lowering high blood pressure and reducing vomiting.
    • A decoction of musta along with herbs like nimba, guduchi and kutaja (kurchi) is used for the management of malaria.
    • You can take musta in the form of powder, decoction or as per your physician’s direction.

Ayurvedic medicines for malaria

  • Sudarshana churna
    • Sudarshana churna is an Ayurvedic formulation made using 48 herbs. Kiratatikta (bitterstick) is the main ingredient in this formulation.
    • Sudarshana churna is recommended for the treatment of malaria and different types of fevers due to its antipyretic (fever-reducing) and antimalarial properties.
    • The potent herbal formula of sudarshana churna is also available in a concentrated vati (tablet) form.
  • Mahakalyanaka ghrita
    • Mahakalyanaka ghrita is prepared using 31 ingredients including cardamom, cow’s milk, ashwagandha (Indian ginseng), cow’s ghrita, manjishtha (Indian madder), kavach (cowhage plant) seeds, turmeric and honey.
    • This medicine is mainly indicated for mental disorders, amnesia and stammering.
    • It is also useful in the treatment of malaria.
  • Guduchyadi kwatha
    • Guduchyadi kwatha is a herbal formulation containing guduchi, raktachandana (red sandalwood), dhanyaka (coriander), nimbatwak (bark of the neem tree) and other ingredients.
    • This medicine is indicated for malaria, acidity and vatarakta (gout).
  • Ayush 64
    • Ayush 64 is a herbal formulation prepared using aqueous extracts and powders of katuki (kutki), saptaparna, kiratatikta and other herbs.
    • This medicine has anti-malarial and anti-toxin properties.
    • You can take Ayush 64 tablets with water, the powdered form of Ayush 64 with honey or as per your physician’s direction.
  • Amrutarishta
    • Amrutarishta is a herbal formulation containing 23 ingredients including guduchi, jaggery, musta, kutki, maricha (black pepper) and others.
    • This herb is indicated for malaria as it helps reduce fever. It is also beneficial in people with indigestion problems.
    • Amrutarishta is used to treat cardiac and skin disorders, piles, pthiasis, constipation, oedema, worm infestation and anaemia.
  • Kalyanaka ghrita
    • Kalyanaka ghrita is prepared using cow’s ghrita, turmeric, triphala and 29 other ingredients such as indravaruni (bitter apple), amla, haritaki, vibhitaki, tagara (Indian valerian), daruharidra (Indian beriberi), ela (cardamom), chandana (sandalwood), vidanga (false black pepper).
    • This medicine is used to treat pandu (anaemia), prameha (urinary disease), unmada (mental disorder) and malaria.

As treatments vary according to numerous factors and an individual’s prakriti (constitution), consult a qualified Ayurvedic doctor for the appropriate medications and treatments for your specific complaints.

Do’s

  • Include rakta and swastika types of shali rice, masura churna (red lentil powder), rice gruel, pointed gourd, brinjal, mudga yusha (green gram soup), kulattha yusha (horse gram soup), eranda (castor), bimbi (spiny bitter gourd), adhaki (pigeon pea), long pepper root and amalaki in your diet.
  • Seek medical advice immediately on contracting a flu-like or tropical fever–like illness.
  • Sleep on fine nylon mattresses that are impregnated with permethrin.
  • Use insect repellents, especially from dusk till dawn; spray under the tables, beds, chairs and along the walls.
  • Wear long-sleeved clothes coated with permethrin.
  • Take bed rest.
  • Keep your surroundings hygienic.
  • Stay in a well-ventilated room.

Don’ts

  • Avoid travelling to malaria-endemic places.
  • Do not wear colognes and perfumes.
  • Do not use permethrin-coated objects if you are allergic to them.

In a series of clinical trials conducted on 1,442 individuals with malaria, Ayush 64 was found to be effective in 89% of the cases. All of these cases demonstrated results comparable to primaquine and chloroquine (anti-malarial drugs).

A double-blind study was conducted on 178 patients with malaria to assess Ayush 64. The medicine reduced fever and showed effects against the parasite in about 95.4% of the patients.

A clinical investigation to find new herbal remedies in malaria treatment showed nimba as one of the beneficial herbs.

Self-medication or taking an ayurvedic treatment without prior consultation from an experienced doctor may have some side effects. Let us have a look at them.

  • Virechana should not be performed in people with bleeding conditions and piles. It should be avoided in older individual and pregnant women. As virechana therapy weakens the digestive fire, it is not indicated for people with vitiated vata dosha.
  • Vamana should not be performed in pregnant women. It is not recommended for people who have difficulty with emesis. People with enlarged prostate, abdomen or spleen; heart problems; constipation; and similar health conditions should not undergo vamana.
  • Basti therapy is not recommended for babies. People with diabetes, colon cancer, diarrhoea, polyps, rectal bleeding and diverticulitis should not undergo basti.
  • Musta should be avoided in people with constipation and excess vata.
  • Amalaki may cause diarrhoea in people with pitta dosha.

For diseases that are caused due to external factors, e.g., malaria (caused due to a mosquito bite), it is necessary to avoid the nidanas (causes) and follow preventive measures. Ayurveda treats malaria by using herbs with antimalarial properties. The panchakarma (five therapies) aim at reducing fever and improve overall health by rejuvenation, eliminating toxins and nourishing the body. Unlike conventional medications, Ayurvedic formulations and medications, treat malaria without causing any side effects. Ayurveda suggests dietary and lifestyle changes to fight and prevent malaria.

Dr. Ajai Singh Chauhan

Dr. Ajai Singh Chauhan

आयुर्वेदा

Dr. Jyoti Kumbar

Dr. Jyoti Kumbar

आयुर्वेदा

Dr. Bibin M. V.

Dr. Bibin M. V.

आयुर्वेदा

References

  1. Center for Disease Control and Prevention [internet], Atlanta (GA): US Department of Health and Human Services; About Malaria.
  2. Saurabh Parauha,Hullur M.A.,Prashanth A.S. A Litreary Review of Vishama Jwara and its principle of treatment. Journal of Ayurveda and Integrated Medical Sciences. Vol 1. Issue 2. July-August 2016
  3. Ministry of AYUSH, Govt. of India. Preliminary Evaluation Of Extracts Of Alstonia Scholaris Bark For In Vivo Antimalaria Activity In Mice. [Internet]
  4. Biren N. Shah,A. K. Seth. Pharmacological potential of Trichosanthes dioica – an edible plant. Journal for drugs and medicines Vol.2 (2) Sept.2010-March 2011
  5. Oushadhi Panchakarma Hospital And Research Centre [Internet]: Thrissur; Govt of Kerala. Lehyams & Ghrithams.
  6. Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Sciences [Internet]: Ministry of AYUSH, Govt. of India. Ayush- 64.
  7. Oushadhi Panchakarma Hospital And Research Centre [Internet]: Thrissur; Govt of Kerala. Asavams and Arishtams.
  8. Ministry of AYUSH, Govt. of India. Malaria: Novel Plant Remedies Show Great Promise In Treating The Deadly Disease. [Internet]