NATURAL REMEDIES TO HEALTH AILMENTS
MOSQUITO REPELLENT PLANTS
Malaria is known to be a tropical disease. For whatever reason, we are living in malaria endemic area of the planet earth. This disease may seem cheap but it’s definitely not. This may be the reason some coloured indigenes of earth call it “black man’s cancer”.
A basic knowledge of health taught in primary school tells us that malaria is a mosquito-borne infectious disease that affects humans and other animals. Malaria causes symptoms that typically include fever, headaches, colds, pains.
Malaria is known to be a potentially life-threatening disease caused by infection with Plasmodium protozoa spread by mosquitoes’ bite of an infected Anopheles mosquito. Infected mosquitoes carry the Plasmodium parasite which is released into the victim’s bloodstream. Records show that in 2017, there were an estimated 219 million cases of malaria in 87 countries. Malaria is however preventable and curable.
Mosquitoes are more than a nuisance. The word is Spanish and means “little fly”.
Mosquitoes are a group of about 3,500 species of small insects that are flies. Within Diptera, they constitute the family Culicidae. Available evidence indicates that mosquitoes have been around for over 30 million years. It seems that, in those millions of years, mosquitoes have been improving their skills so that they are now experts at finding people to bite with their myriads of sensors designed to track their prey. These are chemical and heat sensors.
As is common with all insects, adult mosquitoes have three basic body parts: head, thorax and abdomen.
The head houses all the sensors including the biting apparatus. It also has two compound eyes, antennae to sense chemicals and the mouth parts called the palpus and the proboscis. This is a unique property of only females meant for biting. The thorax is the segment where the two wings and six legs attach. It also habours the flight muscles,compound heart, some nerve cell ganglia and trachioles. The abdomen is the theatre for the digestive and excretory organs.
HOW MOSQUITOES BREED
According to medical experts, treatment of malaria depends on the species of malaria, as well as on the severity of the disease. The World Health Organization’s Guidelines for the treatment of malaria classifies it into three: treatment of complicated malaria; treatment of uncomplicated malaria; and treatment of severe malaria. Usually, any of the cases witnesses mass drug administration. Treatment of malaria consists of anti-parasitics and physicians say they apply antimalarial drugs.
They say prevention is better than cure. Pharmacists also say that every drug is a potential poison.
The most effective way to avoid getting sick from viruses spread by mosquitoes when at home and during travel is to prevent mosquito. Uses of mosquito nets, insects repellent, mosquito control, medications are common.
Some countries have organisations that manage the population of mosquitoes aimed at reducing their damage to human health and economies. This is an important public-health duty which is rather getting universal especially in the tropics where mosquitoes spread many diseases, including malaria and the Zika virus.
The seriousness of malaria is such that people travelling to areas where malaria is common typically take protective drugs before, during and after their trip.
One way to prevent malaria is to prevent mosquito bite. Some of the strategies are: don’t allow stagnant water near your home; keep mosquitoes outside; wear light-coloured dresses; stay indoors; use insecticides and repellents. The last two options may be considered rather unacceptable especially if another option is available.
Pesticides are chemical or biological substances used to kill or repel targeted organisms. Chemists aver that all pesticides are poisons which are designed to impact the immune, reproductive or nervous system of insects. This has heightened concerns about human life over the safety of present day pesticides as available information raise the eyebrow about the health and environmental risks that people who are exposed to
HEALTH EFFECTS OF PESTICIDES
Medical experts warn that exposure to pesticides can cause both acute and chronic problems.
Acute health effects include skin and eye irritations; headaches; dizziness and nausea; weakness; difficulty in breathing; mental confusion and disorientation; seizures; coma and death. These can appear shortly after exposure to these pesticides. Chronic health effects may not be overt until months or years after exposure. Such health aliments include nervous, reproductive, and immune
system disorders, and even cancer. There is a tendency for Children to show exceptional sensitivity to exposure to chemicals due to their small body size, immature immune systems and rapid growth cycles. Professionals say that although everyone is at risk from exposure, the most vulnerable groups are children, pregnant women, the elderly, patients undergoing
chemotherapy, and people with compromised immune systems. So, suffice it to say that virtually all pesticides are associated with some degree of risk or harm to human health and the environment. So, “what should one do?”
NON TOXIC / NATURAL ALTERNATIVE TO PESTICIDES
Care should be taken in the use of mosquito repellents which are fast becoming popular.
We want to here and now, introduce you to certain plants which are easy to grow and which have some ability to repel mosquitoes from areas of your home and garden.
Insect-repelling plants do so with their natural fragrances, which keep annoying mosquitoes away and introducing wonderful scents throughout your garden. Some of these plants are also used to manufacture scented candles, torches, and the natural plant has proven to be more effective.
One of the very common plant repellents is known as Floss flowers or Ageratum.
Ageratum is a low-lying annual ornamental plant which reaches heights of 8 – 18 inches. It is easily recognized by its blue flowers, although there are varieties with pink, white and violet blooms. This plant thrives in full or partial sun and does not require rich soil. It emits a smell which mosquitos find particularly offensive.
Although the leaves of Ageratum can be crushed to increase the emitted odor, it is not advisable to rub the crushed leaves directly on the skin.
Another is Citronella which is a perennial ‘clumping’ grass which grows to a height of 5 – 6 feet. It can be grown directly in the ground in climate zones where frost does not occur. If grown in the garden or near the patio, it should be planted in the ‘background’, behind small decorative flowers and shrubs. Citronella can be grown in a large pot or planter, ideally with casters, so it can be moved.
Citronella plants are considered low maintenance, like most grasses, and they do best in full sun and well-drained locations. Periodic applications of nitrogen-rich fertilizers will ensure vigorous growth, but this treatment only needs to be applied once a year.
Horsemint is an adaptable perennial plant which repels mosquitoes much the same as the others. It gives off a strong incense-like odor which confuses mosquitoes by masking the smell of its usual hosts.
Horsemint leaves can be dried and used to make herbal tea. Its flowers also attract bees and butterflies to a garden.
Commonly grown as ornamental border plants, marigolds are hardy annual plants which have a distinctive smell which mosquitoes, and some gardeners, find particularly offensive.
Most, if not all of these repellents could be planted around the house and in the gardens but they could as well be potted and positioned near entrances to your home and any common mosquito entry points, such as open windows. The smell may deter mosquitoes from going past this barrier.
Apart from acting as mosquito repellents, marigolds repel insects which prey on tomato plants and other vegetables which suggest to farmers that repellent plants could be incorporated in their vegetable sections.
Concluding this piece with a few questions may not be out of place. Though they may seem rhetoric, but we dare ask:
with these options, why risk your life with chemical repellents?Why not beautify your environment and also solve the problem of mosquitoes’ and malaria?
It may also not be out of place to add that for every illness or ailment known to man, that God has a plant out here that will heal it. And so is the case with plants that repel mosquitoes and save us from malaria.
We can only do better by continuously discovering these natural healers.