Smallpox (Masurika)
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Introduction

 

Masurika has been widely described in Ayurveda. Since it is quite an ancient disease, there has been a very thorough study on the various aspects of the disease. Smallpox has got special chapter in Madhav’s extensive Ayurvedic treatise, the Nidana.

Definition of Smallpox (Masurika)

 

Smallpox is a highly contagious disease, which is observed as a condition of the skin. The disease causes pockmarks on the skin, which may persist on the skin even after being cured of the disease. In extreme cases, smallpox can cause blindness in one or both the eyes of the affected person.

Smallpox is a viral disease. Two strains of the Variola virus, Variola major and Variola minor are the causative agents of the disease. Variola major is the more serious of the two infections. About 20 to 40% of all people infected with Variola major die, whereas the death rate in Variola minor infection is about 1%.

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Symptoms of Smallpox (Masurika)

Smallpox is easily diagnosed with the following smallpox symptoms:-

The first symptoms begin showing 12 to 14 days after the infection. At this stage, pimply marks appear on the skin, especially on the face, hands and legs. These marks are called as macules. This is the stage when the person is the most contagious.

Two to three days later, the condition becomes more deteriorated. The macules grow in size to form vesicles. The vesicles get filled with pus. At this stage, they are called as pustules. In general cases, the pustules remain separated on the skin. This is called as discrete smallpox. In more serious cases, the pustules may combine together to form a sheet-like surface on the skin. This would tear off the top layer of the skin from the underlying surface. This is called as confluent smallpox. Confluent smallpox is almost always fatal if left untreated.

If the pustules do not become confluent, then by the twenty-eighth day the pustules begin drying up. As the pustules dry up, they flake off the skin. Pockmarks may or may not be left behind depending on the general constitution of the person. Once the pustules flake off completely, the person is said to be cured of the condition.

Apart from the above general symptoms, pain may occur in some cases. If there is pain, it usually begins in the second week. Pains are in the form of severe aches and prostration.

There is a more serious form of smallpox known as the hemorrhagic smallpox. Hemorrhagic smallpox is characterized by the absence of any blisters on the skin. Instead, there is bleeding under the skin, which causes the skin to appear darkened. The bleeding extends to the organs. There is hemorrhage in the corneas of the eyes, which causes blindness. The mortality rate of hemorrhagic smallpox is very high, i.e. 96%.

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Prevention of Smallpox (Masurika)

Since smallpox is a contagious disease, all physical contact with the infected person must be stopped with immediate effect. The following things must be observed:-

  • Clothes, combs, towels, etc. of the person must not be shared.
  • While speaking with the person, face to face communication must be avoided.
  • Any exchange of fluids with the infected person must be strictly avoided.
  • The infected person must be very cautious while sneezing and coughing.
  • Ideally, the infected person must be quarantined.

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Ayurvedic Treatment of Smallpox (Masurika)

Treatment of smallpox is left more to nature than to medicine. This is because it is a viral infection and not much is known about smallpox viruses. The spread of smallpox, however, is checked by vaccination. If smallpox is left uncontrolled, it may become an epidemic and even a pandemic. Hence, timely prophylactic treatment for smallpox is very necessary.

According to Ayurveda, masurika was considered to be a possession of the goddess Sitala. In age-old tradition, the person suffering from smallpox was externally treated with a mixture of neem, turmeric and flour. The purpose of this mixture was to create a cooling effect on the burning sensation caused by the pustules. Once the pustules were fully ripened, they were pricked with a short thorn to let the pus and infected blood flow out. Though a painful process, this was effective in relieving long-term pain in the patient.

Today, such painful methods are no longer used. Ayurveda has retained almost the same constituents, but the methods used are different. Modern day Ayurveda focuses on the prevention of the disease rather than its treatment.

The following herbs have been prescribed by Ayurveda to be effective in smallpox prevention.

Herb/Plant

Biological Name

Effects/Actions against Masurika (Smallpox)

Neem

Azadirakhta indica

It causes a cooling effect on the skin of the infected person. It also has antiviral and antibacterial properties to prevent further infections.

Turmeric

Curcuma longa

It causes a cooling effect on the skin of the infected person. It is also known to delay the onset of fever by creating a blood-brain barrier.

Pitta papra

Fumaria officinalis

It prevents the buildup of phlegm in the respiratory tract of the person and thus delays the onset of colds.

Parval or Pointed gourd

Trichosanthes dioica

Its extract reduces high temperatures. It helps in digestion. Parval builds up the resistance of the body and helps in recuperation.

Kutki

Picrorhiza korrua

It increases the production of the bile. It also helps combat further infections.

Aroosa

Adhatoda vasica

Boosts the body system and makes it better prepared for combating further infections.

Khus khus

Vettiver zizanioides

It causes a cooling effect in the body.

Sandalwood

Santalam album

It causes a cooling effect in the body.

A decoction of neem bark, pitta papra, parval leaves, kutki, aroosa, khus khus and sandalwood along with parh, yavasa and amla can deter the smallpox virus that causes itx. The mixture must ideally be taken thrice a day. If it is too sour to the taste, it can be sweetened with raw sugar.

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Comment Script

Comments

Hello, and in advance thank you for answering my questions. And your article was very informative, and thought provoking as well as you can see by all of my questions, I apologize!
1. Using the above treatments for Smallpox, do you know the approximate recovery rate?
2. And if you were dealing with Hemorrhagic Smallpox would the treatment be the same?
3. And do you know the recovery rate for this form of the disease also?
4. Ayurvedic medicine had developed a form of vaccination. Yet they like China did not expand its use like the West. My personal opinion is that they both found that prevention and treatment were superior?
5. The USA is considered the most vaccinated country in the world. But a recent study revealed that half of all American children now have chronic diseases that appear to be related to the high vaccination rates, what is your opinion please?
Reference Study Title:
A National and State Profile of Leading Health Problems and Health Care Quality for US Children: Key Insurance Disparities and Across-State Variations
4. Orthomolecuar medicine has had great success using large doses of oral and injected vitamin C to treat infectious diseases. Has Ayurvedic medicine added this technique to its protocol?
5. Last question, do you have a source that you use for your raw herbs and cold pressed oils?
---Thank You Again For Your Time and Your Help.

Very Sincerely
Dr. Paul Blake, N.D.
www.theherbprof.com
#1 - Dr. Paul Blake, N.D. - 10/17/2016 - 00:54
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