Dengue fever is a mosquito-transmitted disease with few if any real conventional treatment options. It is also one of the most widespread and dangerous global diseases.
Every year there are more than three hundred million cases of dengue fever around the world. According to the World Health Organization, the number of global cases has exploded. In three regions being monitored, cases lept from from 2.2 million cases in 2010 to 3.2 million cases in 2015.
More than 200,000 deaths result from the virus every year. Some 128 countries are subject to dengue fever. These include large swaths of Latin America, Australia, Brazil, Central Asia and throughout the island nations of the Pacific. Within the United States, dengue fever has broken out in parts of the South, in Florida, in the Hawaiian Islands, Puerto Rico, American Samoa and elsewhere.
Transmission and symptoms of dengue fever
Dengue fever is transmitted by mosquitoes – notably two species, Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus. There is an incubation period of between 4 and 10 days after being bitten. The fever may initially feel like a flu, but can then develop into a variety of symptoms. These include:
• High fever (up to 40°C/104°F)
• Severe headache
• Pain behind the eyes
• Swollen glands
• Strip-like skin rash
• Joint pain
• Muscle aches
• Abdominal pain
• Rapid breathing
• Severe bleeding
• Abdominal pain
• Bleeding gums
The latter points on the list above indicate a complication of the condition. These are diagnosed as Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever, which can progress into Dengue Shock Syndrome. Both may be accompanied by bleeding and severe abdominal pain. These can become fatal if not treated immediately.
Conventional strategies for dengue fever
There are currently few conventional treatment options for dengue fever.
There is a vaccine for Dengue fever that can help prevent people from contracting the virus. However, this is complicated by at least four serotypes of the disease:
One may be vaccinated with (or infected with) one of these serotypes and develop an immunity against that serotype. But this will not provide immunity against the other three serotypes. For a few months, one may develop a temporary immunity, but that likely won’t last long.
Furthermore, dengue comes with what is called an antibody-dependent enhancement effect. If someone is infected (or vaccinated) with the DENV-1 or DENV-3 viruses, an infection of the others can become more severe.
Even if a good vaccine is developed, the real need is to develop a treatment for those who still become infected.
In addition, there is a need to develop natural insecticides that don’t harm people’s health when they are sprayed onto areas where the mosquitoes lay eggs. This is called vector removal or vector management.
The mosquitoes mentioned above are called vectors for the disease. If they are removed from the equation, risk of the disease goes down. The problem with many insecticides utilized to remove mosquitoes in dengue-infected areas is that they also can harm the environment and people.
Nature, it turns out, has an answer to both issues.
Ayurvedic herb fights dengue post-infection
Traditional doctors from Northern India have for centuries utilized an herb called Andrographis paniculata (also ‘Kirayat,’ ‘Hempedu’ and ‘king of bitters’) for viral infections. Conventional doctors continue to dismiss traditional medicines. But recent research on this herbal medicine illustrates it can effectively inhibit the dengue virus.
In December of 2016, researchers from Thailand’s Mahidol University conducted laboratory research on Andrographis’ ability to treat dengue fever. The researchers tested an Andrographis extract called andrographolide against the DENV-2 serotype using two human liver cell lines.
Then they tested the herbal extract against the DENV-4 serotype using one human liver cell line (HepG2).
The researchers found the Andrographis extract significantly inhibited and reduced the virus infection from all the cells. In addition, viral activity among the cells was diminished within a post-infection stage. This means the Andrographis extract works after a dengue infection.
The researchers concluded:
“These results suggest that andrographolide has the potential for further development as an anti-viral agent for dengue virus infection.”
A 2012 study from Malaysia’s International Medical University also tested Andrographis on dengue fever. They used DENV1-infected human Vero E6 cells. The researchers tested Andrographis along with five other herbal medicines known for their antiviral activity.
They found the Andrographis extract significantly inhibited the dengue virus infection. They also found another plant extract – Momordica charantia – also inhibited the virus. But not as much as the Andrographis extract.
The researchers concluded:
“The methanol extracts of A. paniculata and M. charantia possess the ability of inhibiting the activity of DENV-1 in in vitro assays. Both of these plants are worth to be further investigated and might be advantageous as an alternative for dengue treatment.”
Andrographis also curtails dengue vector
A 2016 study from the King Saud University and India’s Manonmaniam Sundaranar University Alwarkurichi found Andrographis helps prevent dengue infection. The researchers tested the andrographolide leaf extract of Andrographis paniculata against the carrier of the dengue virus, Ae. aegypti.
The researchers found the extract killed the mosquitoes along with the eggs of the mosquito. They found the repellency greater than 90 percent, which is significant. The extract reduced certain enzyme activities in the mosquito, leading to their demise.
They tested the activity of the Andrographis extract against other chemical larvicides and found the Andrographis extract was superior.
The researchers commented:
“The histopathology study displayed that larvae treated with bioactive andrographolide had cytopathic effects in the midgut epithelium compared with the control. The present study established that bioactive andrographolide served as a potential useful for dengue vector management.”
In 2012, researchers from India’s Annamalai University put Andrographis’ repellent concept to the ultimate practical test. They topically applied an extract of Andrographis leaf onto the arms of volunteers. This was done in the presence of two types of mosquitoes that carry the dengue virus.
First, they found the extract caused no negative reaction or allergic response to the volunteers.
Secondly, the extract actively repelled the mosquitoes. The extract prevented the mosquitoes from landing on the arm and biting the skin. The researchers also found that
Thirdly, they found the extract – if applied on the mosquitoes, would cause the death of the mosquito. This was also confirmed in the 2015 study above.
Andrographis topically and internally
The above research illustrates that Andrographis paniculata can be used to treat a dengue fever infection. Internal use of Andrographis paniculata extracts has been in use in Ayurvedic medicine for more than 2,000 years.
The research also illustrates that Andrographis paniculata extract can be spread on the arm to help prevent mosquito bites from dengue-fever infected mosquitoes.
Furthermore, the Ayurvedic herb extract can be sprayed onto areas where the mosquitoes live and lay eggs. This will provide an effective insecticide against the larva.
Traditional uses for Andrographis
Andrographis paniculata has a long history of use in Ayurveda, Malaysian and Thai Traditional Medicine, and Traditional Chinese Medicine. This provides additional credibility of the antiviral and anti-inflammatory capabilities of this medicinal herb.
These traditional medicines have used Andrographis for influenza, the common cold, stomach aches, inflammation of various types, fevers, snake-bites and insect stings, heartburn, dysentery, malaria, respiratory infections, colic pain, appetite loss, constipation, diarrhea, hypertension and diabetes. Wow, that’s a lot of ailments. Research has backed up some of these uses, but more research is needed to confirm others.
Talk to your doctor if you suspect a dengue infection or any other medical condition.
Discover: Andrographis full spectrum
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Govindarajan M, Sivakumar R. Adulticidal and repellent properties of indigenous Adulticidal and repellent properties of indigenous plant extracts against Culex quinquefasciatus and Aedes aegypti. Parasitol Res. 2012 May;110(5):1607-20. doi: 10.1007/s00436-011-2669-9.
Case Adams is a California Naturopath and a Board Certified Alternative Medicine Practitioner with a PhD in Natural Health Sciences, and diplomas in Homeopathy, Aromatherapy, Bach Flower Remedies, Blood Chemistry, Clinical Nutritional Counseling and Colon Hydrotherapy. He has authored 26 books on natural healing strategies.