Chikungunya is a viral disease which is caused by the bite of infected Aedes mosquitoes. Due to the little knowledge about the disease, it has caused a lot of panic among people. It is seldom life threatening. The most painful aspect of chikungunya is the period of pain and swelling in the joints. This is due to the response of one’s own immune system to the parts the joints. This is known as an auto-immune response. This is most commonly experienced by older people because if they have a pre-existing arthritic tendency, they suffer badly. This infection has become prevalent these days and affecting lives of hundreds and thousands.
Ayurvedic view of chikungunya fever
In Ayurveda, it is known as sandhi jwara that literally means ‘fever of the joints’.Chikungunya fever is considered as vata dosha disorder. In chikungunya, Ayurveda believes in enhancing the immunity of an individual. Thus, Immunomodulator medications are prescribed that help to modulate the immune response of the body against antigens which inadvertently affect the joints. Ayurvedic treatment helps to reverse the inflammatory process as well as prevents the tissue damage. Medicines to improve immunity, medicines to reduce fever and treatment to bring down muscle pain, nausea, fatigue, rash and headache are given in Ayurveda along with rejuvenation medicines.
Allopathic treatment options are only symptomatic for mitigating the pain and fever along with anti-inflammatory drugs, in such cases convalescence cause prolonged joint pain which may require analgesics along with long-term anti-inflammatory therapy.
There is a slight difference between the symptoms of dengue and chikungunya. The most distinguishing feature of dengue is bleeding. Both are caused by viruses but they are different viruses. Chikungunya is caused by an Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus while dengue is caused by Flavirideae flavivirus. Joint pain resulting from chikungunya may last for years.
Diagnosis– Chikungunya fever is diagnosed on the basis of serological tests like ELISA (Enzyme Linked Immunosorbent Assays) for detection of antibodies like IgG and IgM and RT- PCR (Reverse Transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction). These tests are used to detect the presence of virus in the blood.
A study by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri has found that symptoms and blood test results of patients with chikungunya is similar to that of rheumatoid arthritis patients.
What are the symptoms of chikungunya?
- Severe joint pain
- Muscular pain
How chikungunya spreads?
- Several varieties of viral infections are spread through droplets discharged into the atmosphere by the sneezing of the infected patients.
- It is important to note that sometimes, post chikungunya affects multiple joints leaving a person debilitated for a long time so proper treatment is necessary.
Some key points about chikungunya-
- It is a viral disease.
- Mosquito control is the only effective prevention technique.
- Usually non- fatal
- Currently, there are no vaccines available.
- Transmission is only through mosquito bite not from human to human.
Prevention of chikungunya fever:
Currently, there is no vaccine available for Chikungunya so prevention is the best option. The best prevention is not to get a bite from a mosquito. Precautions should be taken to reduce the risk of mosquito bites.
- Use mosquito nets during sleep
- Keeping a tulsi plant (Ocimum sanctum) prevents the mosquito to breed around your home as it flies with the fragrance of tulsi leaves.
- Use of cream or spray that can be applied on the skin. Local application of coconut oil on arms, knees, legs is also recommended to prevent the mosquito from biting on open areas.
- Drain all the water collected around the house.
- Ensure that drainages are either closed or chemicals are sprayed which kill mosquito larvae.
- Turmeric(curcumin longa)– Turmeric is natural anti-inflammatory due to the presence of alkaloid curcumin. It has strong anti-oxidant properties thus very useful in treating chikungunya.
- Ginger– It contains naturally occurring analgesics, which mimic Non- Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs(NSAIDs). Ginger is anti-inflammatory thus provides relief in chikungunya.
- Vitamin c– Vitamin C has antioxidant properties. It helps to flush out toxins from the body. Sources of Vitamin C are- Amla(Indian gooseberry), oranges, lemon etc.
- Leafy green vegetables– They are useful as they are a rich source of iron and vitamin E among other nutrients. One must include leafy green vegetables in a diet to fight chikungunya.
- Massage with sesame oil is very helpful to reduce the symptoms of pain in the body due to chikungunya.
- Giloy(tinospora cordifolia) is an immunomodulator. Thus, Giloy and Ginger boiled in water to make a decoction. It can be taken for 1 week thrice a day.
- A decoction of neem, tulsi, giloy, Ginger should be taken thrice a day.
- Ashwagandha powder(withania somnifera) to be taken daily with milk.
- Local application of garlic paste or clove oil on the painful joints for providing relief from pain.
- Chewing tulsi leaves (Ocimum sanctum) helps in providing relief from chikungunya.
- Adequate rest is necessary.
- Take fine powder of Haritiki (Terminalia chebula),This is to be consumed along with warm water.
- Drink fluids to prevent dehydration.
- Don’t take aspirin and other Non- Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) until dengue can be ruled out to reduce the risk of bleeding.
- A mixture made up of honey and lime is also beneficial.
- Since there is no cure for chikungunya in modern medicine, medicines are prescribed for symptomatic relief, these home remedies will prove very beneficial as these are recommended to build up immunity and to reduce pain and inflammation.
Various Ayurvedic combinations like- Sanjivani Vati+ Amritarishta(4-6 weeks), to reduce inflammation( Yograj guggul, Vatari guggul), to restore energy after the fever is relieved( Ashwgandharishta, Balarishta 2 times a day), Shilajit capsules etc.
Oil for the application can be used after the fever is relieved to improve joint strength and relieve pain. For kids below 7 years of age and suffering from chikungunya will have to strictly follow the advice of a doctor. In children, 5 ml Amritarishta + 5 ml water can be administered after meals along with medicines prescribed by a doctor to bring fever under control. In case, if a child suffers from joint pain after the fever is relieved, then local application with oil can be done to relieve pain.