Malaria is a serious infectious disease. It is one of the intermittent fevers which have a tendency to return again and again to haunt the sufferer. The word malaria comes from the Italian malaria, meaning bad air as it was once supposed to be caused by bad air. It is one of the most wide spread diseases in the world, especially in tropical and subtropical regions.
There are three main types of malaria, depending upon the parasite which causes it. These are vivax, falciparum and malaria, commonly called tertian fever, quarter fever and the malignant tertian malaria. The most common symptom of all types of malaria is high fever, which may come every day, on alternate days or every fourth day. The fever is accompanied by chill, headache, shivering and pain in the limbs. The temperature comes down after some time with profuse sweating. One of the main effects of malaria is anemia. Other complications of the disease are kidney failure and dysentery.
Malaria is caused by a tiny parasite called plasmodium. The parasites grow in the liver of a person for a few days and then enter the bloodstream where they invade the red blood cells. The disease is spread from a sick person to a healthy one by the female anopheles mosquito. She draws a small quantity of blood containing the parasites, when she bites a person who has malaria. These parasites then pass through several stages of development within the mosquito’s body and finally find their way to its salivary glands. There they lie in wait for an opportunity to enter the bloodstream of the next person. The real cause of malaria, however, as in case of other infectious diseases, is wrong feeding habits and faulty style of living, resulting in the system being clogged with accumulated systemic refuse and morbid matter. It is on this soil that the malaria germs breed. The liberal use of denatured foods of today such as white sugar, white flour and products made from them, as well as tinned foods, strong tea, coffee and alcoholic beverages, lower the vitality of the system and paves the way for the development of malaria.
Diet is of utmost importance in the treatment of malaria. To begin with, the patient should fast on orange juice and water for seven to fifteen days depending on the severity of the fever. The warm water enema should be administered daily during this period to cleanse the bowels. After the fever has subsided, the patient should be placed on an exclusive fresh fruit diet for further three days. In this regimen, he should take three meals a day, at five-hourly intervals, of fresh, juicy fruits, like oranges, grapes, grapefruit, apple, pineapple, mango and papaya. Milk may be added to the fruit-diet after this period and this diet may be continued for a further few days. Thereafter, the patient may gradually embark upon a well-balanced diet of natural foods consisting of seeds, nuts and grains. Vegetables and fruits , with emphasis on fresh fruits and raw vegetables.
The patient should avoid strong tea, coffee, refined and processed foods, fried foods, condiments, sauces, pickles, white sugar, white flour, and all products made from them. He should also avoid all meats, alcoholic drinks and smoking.
The best way to reduce temperature naturally, during the course of fever, is by means of the cold pack, which can be applied to the whole body. This pack is made by wringing out a sheet or other large square piece of linen material in cold water, wrapping it right round the body and legs of the patient ( twice round would be best ) and then covering completely with a small blanket or similar warm material. This pack should be applied every three hours during the day while temperature is high and kept on for an hour or so . Hot-water bottles may be applied to the feet and also against the sides of the body.
Certain home remedies have been found beneficial in the treatment of malaria. One such remedy is the use of grapefruit (chakotra). This substance can be extracted from the fruits by boiling a quarter of the grapefruit and straining its pulp.
Lime and lemon are beneficial in the treatment of quarter type of malaria fever. About three grams of lime should be dissolved in about 60 ml. of water and juice of one lemon added to it. This water should be taken before the onset of the fever.
Cinnamon (dalchini) is regarded as an effective cure for all types of colds, including malaria. It should be coarsely powdered and boiled in a glass of water with a pinch of pepper powder and honey. This can be used beneficially as a medicine in malaria.
Alum (phitkari) is also useful in malaria. It should be roasted over a hot plate and powdered. It should be taken about four hours before the expected attack and every two hours after it. This will give relief.
The preventive aspect in malaria is as important as the curative one. The best way to protect against malaria is to adopt all measures necessary for preventing mosquito bites. For this purpose, it is essential to maintain cleanliness of surroundings, environmental hygiene and to eradicate stretches of stagnant water. As the mosquito generally perches itself on the walls of the house, after biting a person, it would be advisable to spray the walls with insecticides.
The leaves of the holy basil (tulsi) are considered beneficial in the prevention of malaria. An infusion of some leaves can be taken daily for this purpose. The juice of about 11 grams of tulsi leaves mixed with three grams of black pepper, powder, can be taken beneficially in the cold stage of the malarial fever. This will check the severity of the disease.