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Malaria is an infectious disease caused by the Plasmodium family of microbes; the four common malarial parasites include Plasmodium vivax, P. falciparum, P. ovale and P. malariae. The disease is transmitted through the bite of infected mosquitoes (female Anopheles) and shows up in stages - the chill stage, heat stage and sweat stage. These stages tend to reappear at fixed intervals of time. The chief symptoms of malaria include fever with chills and sweating, headache, body ache, nausea and vomiting and severe weakness.

Malarial parasite destroys red blood cells, leading to a reduction in blood haemoglobin content. In severe cases, the organisms attack the central nervous system, causing breathing problem (respiratory distress), low blood pressure, decreased blood sugar, and kidney failure

Antimalarial medicines (chloroquine) and antibiotics comprise the standard treatment of malaria. Homoeopathic medicines, on the other hand, aims at strengthening body's own immune system, thereby helping reduce the symptoms of malaria. Various research studies have observed the effectiveness of homoeopathic medicines in the treatment of malaria. Some of these medicines include sulphur, natrum muriaticum, nux vomica, rhus toxicodendron, eupatorium perfoliatum, pulsatilla pratensis, china arsenicum, calcarea arsenicum, arsenicum album, bryonia album, ipecacuanha, chininum sulphuricum, chelidonium majus, and china officinalis.

  1. Homeopathic medicines for malaria
  2. Dietary and lifestyle changes for malaria patient as per homeopathy
  3. How effective are homeopathic medicines and treatments for malaria
  4. Side effects and risks of homeopathic medicine and treatments for malaria
  5. Takeaway
  • Arsenicum Album
    Common Name: Arsenic trioxide
    Symptoms: This medicine is best suited for people who remain sad and depressed, have severe anxiety and are constantly irritable. Arsenicum Album can be effectively used in the treatment of malaria, especially if it recurs at the same time every year. It is prescribed for a person who shows the following symptoms:
    • Extreme weakness and sleepiness the night before the illness begins
    • Intense yawning with an extreme desire to stretch the arms and legs the night before the illness
    • Fever episodes that always occur at midnight and in the afternoon
    • In the chill stage, the individual is very thirsty and drinks sips of water at short intervals
    • The patient feels better with warmth during the chill stage and is worse from cold, or eating or drinking anything cold.
    • A dry, burning sensation felt all over the body during the heat stage
    • A sensation as if hot water is running through the blood vessels
    • Severe anxiety and restlessness during the heat stage
    • Intense desire to drink a small amount of cold water at frequent intervals
    • During the heat and sweat stages, the patient feels an unquenchable thirst for cold water, with associated vomiting
    • Skin cold to touch in the sweating stage
    • Extreme weakness with a desire to lie down after the fever subsides

​A double-blind random clinical trial observed that arsenicum album is more effective in the treatment of malaria than chloroquine, a drug commonly antimalarial medicine.

In an experimental study done on animal models, researchers found that arsenicum album negatively affects the growth and life cycle of the parasite P. berghei.

  • Chelidonium Majus
    Common Name: Celandine
    Symptoms: Celandine acts best in people who are thin, get irritated easily and have liver problems. It helps treat the following symptoms:
    • Severe shaking of the body, chattering of the teeth with icy coldness of the hands and feet in the chill stage.
    • During the heat stage, the individual feels a burning sensation markedly in single body parts such as a cheek, hand, ear or the head.
    • Sweating during sleep, which subsides on waking up.
    • Constant pain in the lower region of the right shoulder blade
    • Symptoms get aggravated in the early morning, on lying on the right side and with a change of weather.
    • The individual, in general, feels better after dinner.

Lab studies show that chelidonium majus, in combination with another homoeopathic medicine (nosode 30), is able to destroy P. berghei that causes malaria in rats. Both medicines also showed improvement in the functioning of the animal's liver and kidneys, and led to an improved survival rate.

  • China Officinalis
    Common Name:
    Peruvian bark
    Symptoms: The remedy is best suited for people with a dark complexion who turn weak and feeble after severe blood loss, and loss of other body fluid due to certain health conditions. The following symptoms respond well to this remedy:
    • Restless while sleeping the night before the illness begins
    • Extreme thirst and hung before the onset of symptoms
    • Extreme coldness in hands and feet
    • During the heat stage, there is a severe headache, sometimes with sensory disorder
    • Lack of thirst, but intense hunger during the heat stage
    • A lot of sweating with severe weakness in the sweating stage
    • Extreme thirst and desire to drink a large amount of water during the sweating stage
    • The individual feels better in open air and with warmth
    • The complaints are aggravated by loss of body fluids and at night

Two separate research studies, one on china officinalis in combination with the mother tincture of china officinalis and the other on chelidonium majus, showed the anti-malarial effects of these medicines in animal models.

  • Natrum Muriaticum
    Common Name:
    Common salt
    Symptoms: Common salt is best suited to people who are thin and fail to gain weight despite a good appetite. This medicine is used in the treatment of malaria that occurs due to living in damp and marshy areas. The following symptoms can be treated using natrum muriaticum:
    • Headaches and increased thirst before the symptoms show up.
    • Chill stage extending for a long period is the characteristic feature indicating natrum muriaticum can be used.
    • Severe chills that cause blueing of lips and nails.
    • Intense thirst for a large amount of water in the chill stage.
    • Severe weakness and headache with nausea and vomiting in the chill stage
    • Headache with sensation as if small hammers are hitting inside the head, most commonly in the heat stage.
    • Sometimes heat boils or fever blisters appear on the upper lips in the heat stage.
    • In the sweating stage, all the pains are slowly relieved after profuse sweating.
    • The symptoms gets worse with noise, heat, and talking.
    • Fresh air and empty stomach relieve the individual in general.

In a clinical study, it was found that natrum muriaticum, when administered along with other homoeopathic medicines, is more effective in the treatment of malaria than chloroquine.

  • Eupatorium Perfoliatum
    Common Name:
    Thoroughwort
    Symptoms: Eupatorium perfoliatum acts well in old people who have become weak after a long illness. It is also effective for alcoholics. It is prescribed in malaria with the following characteristic symptoms:
    • An unquenchable thirst for water before the illness begins and at the beginning of the chill stage, but drinking water causes nausea and vomiting.
    • Severe pain in the back, legs and hands with a sensation as if bones are broken.
    • A desire to stretch and yawn before the illness begins.
    • The chill stage appears in the morning between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m.
    • Extreme thirst, with nausea and vomiting bitter fluid on drinking water during the chill and heat stage.
    • Severe sweating during the sweating stage, which gives relief from all the pains.
    • The individual feels better by talking in general, and symptoms are aggravated at a fixed time (7 a.m. to 9 a.m.)

An in vivo (animal-based) study indicated that eupatorium perfoliatum and arsenicum album can reduce the multiplication of the malarial parasite.

Various lifestyle and dietary factors affect the action of homoeopathic medicines. So, it is crucial to follow certain restrictions to avoid disturbance in the action of homoeopathic medicines.

In the acute stage (fever and chills)

Do’s:

  • Wear comfortable clothes
  • Adjust the temperature of the room to as per your comfort levels
  • The caretaker should fulfil the demands of the individual regarding food and drinks. This may give them temporary relief

Don’ts:

  • Avoid compelling the individual to eat or drink any particular type of food.
  • Do not stress the patient.

During the illness and re-occurrence of illness

Do’s:

  • Take a healthy and balanced diet that is free from artificial agents
  • The house should be kept clean
  • Keep your mind occupied by reading informative and knowledgeable books
  • Take gentle walks in fresh air

Don’ts:

  • Avoid strong and stimulating drinks such as coffee, medicinal herb and vegetable soups, and spices
  • Avoid eating spoilt and stale food
  • Avoid overeating and excess of salt and sugar
  • Avoid using strong smelling perfumes and air fresheners
  • Avoid clothes that are not suitable for the existing weather conditions
  • Avoid damp and humid conditions
  • Avoid emotions of anger, sadness, depression or situations of mental stress

Homeopathic medicines are effective and safe for the treatment of malaria. In fact, Homoeopathy was discovered by Dr Samuel Hahnemann when he experienced the symptoms of malaria himself after taking the extract of the Cinchona tree bark (quinine). Based on this, he postulated one of the basic laws of homeopathy - the law of similars. It states that a substance that produces certain symptoms in a healthy person can heal the same symptoms in a sick person, when taken in specific doses.

A qualified homeopathic physician will take into consideration not only the symptoms but also the miasm of the disease (the inborn tendency of the person to experience a particular disease) and susceptibility (or vitality) of the person before selecting a remedy.

When taken properly, and under the guidance of an experienced doctor, these medicines enhance the vitality of body. This helps in managing the symptoms of the disease and lead to an improvement in the general health of the individual. Homeopathic remedies have also been found to prevent disease relapse. 

With an increase in drug resistance, homoeopathy could be an effective alternative system of medicine in the treatment of malaria.

However, since there is a lack of sufficient evidence, homoeopathy is not accepted as the main treatment option for malaria all over the world. Instead, it is frequently used in combination with standard antimalarial treatment to reduce the side effects and complement the action of conventional anti-malarial medicines.

A case study published in the Texila International Journal of Public Health suggested that homoeopathic medicines can be safely used for the treatment of uncomplicated malaria.

These medicines can also be safely used in the treatment of malaria during pregnancy. A random clinical trial done in China indicated that homoeopathic medicines help in reducing the side effects quinine (standard anti-malarial drug) treatment for malaria during pregnancy. Some of these side effects include ringing in ears, dizziness, weakness from anaemia and low birth weight of the baby.

Homoeopathic medicines can be an effective complementary treatment for malaria. They help manage malaria symptoms and reduce the side effects of conventional antimalarial medicines. Homeopathic remedies also aid in preventing the recurrence of the disease. However, these medicines cannot replace conventional treatment and should only be taken under the guidance of an experienced doctor. 

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References

  1. Center for Disease Control and Prevention [internet], Atlanta (GA): US Department of Health and Human Services; Malaria
  2. Aswathy Ranjan, Ramanibai Ravichandran, Upma Bagai. Homeopathy against Malaria: It’s Potential as a Third Millennium Drug Journal of alternative and integrative medicine, 2017, Vol 7, Issue 1
  3. Allen, H. C The therapeutics of intermittent fever 2nd Edition Philadelphia, Hahnemann Publishing, 1884, Page no 14 The therapeutics of intermittent fever
  4. William Boericke. Homeopathic Materia Medica. Kessinger Publishing: Médi-T 1999, Volume 1 Homoeopathic Materia Medica
  5. Upma Bagai, Neha S. Walter. Antiplasmodial potential of homeopathic drugs Chelidonium and nosode against Plasmodium berghei infection Journal of Complementary and Integrative Medicine, 2014, Volume 11, Issue 3
  6. Lira-Salazar G et al. Effects of homeopathic medications Eupatorium perfoliatum and Arsenicum album on parasitemia of Plasmodium berghei-infected mice. Homeopathy, 2006 Oct, 95(4):223-8 PMID: 17015193
  7. Eric Gyamfi, John Awuni Abugire , Takyi Clifford, Abigail Adusei. Assessment of Efficacy of Homoeopathic Remedies for the Treatment of Uncomplicated Malaria ( ‘A Case Study in Effiduase, Sekyere East District of Ashanti Region’ Ghana ) Texila International Journal of Public Health, Dec 2017, Volume 5, Issue 4
  8. Danno K et al. China rubra for side-effects of quinine: a prospective, randomised study in pregnant women with malaria in Cotonou, Benin. Homeopathy. 2014 Jul;103(3):165-71 PMID: 24931747
  9. Barlow-Benschop, N. M. et al.The effect of a homeopathic neem preparation for the prophylaxis of malaria “The effect of a homeopathic neem preparation for the prophylaxis of malaria An exploratory trial in an at-home setting in Tanzania.” (2006)
  10. Veronique M.A.Van Erp, MartienBrands. Homoeopathic treatment of malaria in Ghana: Open study and clinical trial British Homoeopathic journal, April 1996, Volume 85, Issue 2, , Pages 66-70
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