Swine Flu – Ayurvedic Herbal Treatment

Swine flu (swine influenza A) is a respiratory disease caused by influenza viruses that usually infect the respiratory tract of pigs. Swine flu viruses have the capacity to mutate so that they are easily transmissible among humans. The 2009 outbreak is due to infection with the H1N1 virus and was first observed in Mexico. Symptoms in humans are similar to most influenza infections: fever, cough, nasal secretions, fatigue, headache, and gastrointestinal symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea. Two antiviral agents, Zanamivir and Oseltamivir are known to be effective in this condition, if taken within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms. This infection has appeared to pose a threat to young children and adults, and those with an immunocompromised status.

The Ayurvedic treatment of swine flu is aimed at treating the symptoms, controlling the virus, and preventing complications by boosting the immune status of the body. Medicines like Tribhuvan-Kirti-Ras, Sitopaladi-Churna, Triphal-Guggulu, Maha-Sudarshan-Churna, Shwas-Kuthar-Ras, Laxmi-Narayan-Ras, Sut-Shekhar-Ras and Samshamani-Vati can be used to treat the flu -like symptoms of fever, bodyache and cough. Herbal medicines like Chirayta (Swertia chirata), Tulsi (Ocimum sanctum), Pippali (Piper longum), Vishwa (Zinziber officinalis), Haridra (Curcuma longa), Som (Ephedra vulgaris), Dhatura (Dhatura fastiosa) and Kantakari (Solanum xanthocarp) can also be used for this purpose. Gastro-intestinal symptoms can be treated using medicines like Panchamrut-Parpati, Kutaj-Parpati, Kutaj-Ghan-Vati, Laghu-Sutshekhar-Ras and herbal medicines like Vishwa, Kutaj (Holarrhina antidysentrica), Musta (Cyperus rotundus) and Bilva (Aegle marmelos).

Herbal medicines with antiviral activity can be used to prevent or reduce the effects of the viral infection. These medicines include Yashtimadhuk (Glycyrrhiza glabra), Tulsi, Bhumiamalaki (Phyllanthus niruri), Haridra, Daruharidra (Berberis aristata), Kutki (Picrorrhiza kurroa), Chitrak (Plumbago zeylanica) and Amalaki (Emblica officinalis). In the case of swine flu, the earlier these medicines are started, the better the therapeutic effect.

It is also important to boost the immune status of the body in order to bring about a faster recovery and prevent complications. This can be done by using medicines like Shatavari (Asparagus racemosus), Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), Bala (Sida cordifolia), Naagbala (Grewia hirsuta), Abhrak-Bhasma, Suvarna-Bhasma, Laghu-Malini-Vasant, Madhu-Malini- Vasant, Suvarna-Malini-Vasant and Suvarna-Parpati. These medicines can also be used for preventive purposes, both by the normal, unaffected population and also by those who are at special risk; for example, close contacts of affected individuals, and medical and para-medical staff.

The herbal medicine called Pippali has a special therapeutic affinity for the mucosa of the respiratory tract. It can reduce inflammation, swelling and excessive secretions in the lungs, throat and nose. In addition, it also normalizes the damage done to the mucosal lining due to acute and chronic disease. In acute disease of the respiratory tract, it is usually given in small doses along with other medicines. In chronic diseases, it is given in progressively increasing doses till tolerance, or till a pre-determined dose, and then reduced gradually. This tonifying medication is known as "Vardhmaan-Pippali-Rasayan". This can be judiciously used to prevent serious damage due to swine flu infection, or as a preventive medication in individuals at risk.

It is important to take adequate preventive measures to keep the swine flu infection from spreading. Symptomatic individuals should observe voluntary quarantine for a period of seven to fourteen days, which is usually the time the contagious stage lasts. Simple measures like using tissue paper for nasal secretions, and disposing off these, can significantly reduce the risk of transmission to others.

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