World Malaria Day is observed on April 25 every year to spread awareness about malaria, the mosquito-borne tropical disease caused by a parasite called Plasmodium. These parasites invade red blood cells and liver cells. They are commonly spread from an infected person to a non-infected person through the bite of the female Anopheles mosquito, but can also be transmitted from a pregnant mother to the foetus, through blood transfusions, organ donations, and use of contaminated needles or syringes.

Malaria can cause high fever, sweating, chills, nausea and flu-like symptoms. In severe cases, it can also cause organ failures, seizures, coma, or death.

As recommended by Ayurveda expert Dr Sajitha K, Head of Department, Swasthavritti and Yog at The Art of Living’s Sri Sri College of Ayurvedic Science and Research Hospital, here are some natural ways in which we can keep mosquitoes away, protect ourselves from malaria and also strengthen our immune system to fight back these deadly parasites:

• Maintain a clean environment and reduce garbage and stagnation of water in your home and surroundings, as these are the potential breeding places for mosquitoes.

• Plants like Tulsi act as natural mosquito repellent and thus, keeping tulsi plants in your home will be helpful in keeping it mosquito free.

• Neem leaves are also helpful in repelling mosquitoes.

• Fumigating your home with sambrani (benzoin resin) effectively keeps mosquitoes away while its fragrance creates a soothing atmosphere.

• Herbal mosquito repellent mat: A tissue paper or cardboard dipped in neem oil and dried in sun, when burnt, will keep mosquitoes out of your home.

• Using mosquito nets is one of the best and cost-effective methods to protect oneself from mosquito bites.

• Tulsi juice is a potent larvicide. Sprinkling concentrated tulsi juice in stagnant water bodies and other areas where mosquitoes can breed is very effective in getting a mosquito free surrounding.

• When outdoors, burning pepper sticks is a good solution as its smoke is effective in keeping mosquitoes away.

• Applying neem oil/ sandalwood oil/ turmeric paste on the skin will help one keep away from mosquitoes.

• Fumigating your home with guggulu, turmeric root and neem will keep mosquitoes away.

• In places where there is an outbreak of malaria, avoid going out in the dark, wear full sleeves and full-length clothes and keep your body covered as much as possible; use mosquito repellents in combination with mosquito nets for better protection while sleeping.

• Drink fresh tulsi juice with honey or tulsi green tea to improve your immunity.

• Taking rasayanas like chyavanaprasha, amalakki rasayana, narasimha rasayana etc. regularly will strengthen one’s immune system and thus help prevent malaria.

In places where the outbreak is severe, it is necessary that a blood test of every individual in the locality is done since some people might be infected without showing any symptoms of malaria. If such persons are left untreated, they can carry parasites inside their bodies for a longer duration, thus posing a threat to other individuals in the area. It is also equally important that every individual takes responsibility for keeping the surroundings clean. Cleanliness will not only help in the prevention of malaria but will also help eradicate a number of such diseases.