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Cholera is one of the most severe diseases of the intestines. It is a serious infection involving the lower part of the small bowel. It is a water-borne disease and is common during the monsoon. The mortality rate for this disease has been quite high.
The first sign of cholera may be mild diarrhoea. This is followed by sudden violent purging. The stools are loose, watery, and grayish-brown in colour. Diarrhoea is usually accompanied by nausea and vomiting. The patient gets severe cramps in the stomach, and feels very thirsty and restless. The temperature rises, but the skin is generally cold and clammy and the pulse is weak. In the next stage, the body becomes colder; the skin dry, wrinkled, and purple; the voice weak and husky; and the urine, scanty and dark.
The blood pressure falls, the cramps are agonizing, and signs of collapse appear rapidly.
Cholera is caused by a germ known as Vibrio cholerae. This germ produces a powerful poison or endotoxin. The disease is spread by flies and water contaminated by the germs.
The foremost among the many home remedies for cholera is the use of lemon. The juice of this fruit can kill cholera bacilli within a very short time. It is also a very effective and reliable preventive against cholera during an epidemic. It can be taken in the form of a sweetened or salted beverage for this purpose. Taking of lemon with food as a daily routine can also prevent cholera.
The root bark of guava is rich in tannins and it can be successfully employed as a concentrated decoction in cholera. It arrests vomiting and symptoms of diarrhoea. About thirty grams of the root bark should be used in half a litre of water to make the decoction. The water should be boiled down to reduce it by one-third. This decoction can be taken twice daily.
Onions are another valuable remedy for cholera. About thirty grams of this vegetable and seven black peppers should be pounded finely in a pestle and given to the patient in two or three doses during the day. Onions allay thirst and restlessness and the patient feels better.
The fresh juice of bitter gourd is an effective medicine in the early stages of cholera. Two teaspoons of this juice, mixed with an equal quantity of white onion juice and a teaspoon of lime juice, should be given twice daily in the treatment of this condition.
The leaves of the drumstick tree are also useful in this disease. A teaspoon of fresh leaf juice, mixed with one teaspoon of honey and a glass of tender coconut water, can be given two or three times a day as a herbal medicine in the treatment of cholera.
A glass of fresh juice of cucumber leaves with an equal quantity of tender coconut water, given in doses of 30-60 ml, forms a valuable remedy for excessive thirst during cholera. It acts excellently by restoring the acid-base balance in dehydration.
The herb nutmeg is a valuable remedy for dehydration caused by cholera. An infusion made by steeping half a nutmeg in half a litre of water should be given along with half a litre of tender coconut water in doses of 15 ml at a time in treating this condition.
Cloves are useful in cholera. About four grams of this spice should be boiled in three litres of water until half of the water has evaporated. The decoction thus prepared should be given to the patient several times during the day. This will reduce the severe symptoms.
The powdered root of rough chaff, botanically known as Achyranthes aspera, is also helpful in cholera. About six grams of the powder should be thoroughly mixed with half a cup of water and given to the patient once daily.
The patient should not be given solid food till he has fully recovered from cholera. Liquid bland foods will be easily digested by the patient. Lemon, onions, vinegar, and mint should be included in the daily diet during an epidemic of cholera. All uncooked vegetables should be avoided.
Cholera can be controlled only by rigid purification of water supply and proper disposal of human excreta. In case there is a slightest doubt about contamination of water, it must be boiled before use for drinking and cooking purposes. All foodstuffs must be kept covered, and vegetables and fruits washed with a solution of potassium permanganate before consumption. Those handling food should wash their hands well before starting to cook.