While around half the population of the world is thought to be vulnerable to dengue annually,1 there is still no specific remedy or cure for this viral infection. But alternative medicine has long used papaya leaves for dengue, and modern research seems to be catching up.
Dengue is spread by mosquitoes and causes a sudden high fever with joint pain and a rash. You may also experience mild bleeding from the nose or gums, intense headaches, and pain behind the eyes when you catch this infection.2 3
Dengue generally resolves on its own in around a week, though sometimes it can mutate into a severe or even a potentially fatal version – dengue hemorrhagic fever – where you get symptoms like intense abdominal pain, bleeding under your skin or from your gums, difficulty in breathing, and cold and clammy skin.
While you take measures to handle the symptoms of dengue, like getting sufficient rest, having plenty of fluids, and taking medication to lower your fever, why don’t you give this folk remedy a try? Here’s why and how you can use papaya leaves for dengue.
Papaya has been valued over the ages for its many medicinal properties. The papaya plant is considered to be beneficial for your kidneys and liver. It can fight cell damage and the resulting inflammation caused by reactive free radicals. It can lower your blood sugar and cholesterol levels and can also fight bacteria.
Papaya leaves contain bioactive components like chymopapain and papain that help in treating digestive disorders. Ripe papaya is used to deal with ringworms while the green fruit can lower blood pressure.
Papaya Leaves Can Kill The Larvae Of The Dengue Mosquito
Papaya Leaf Extract Can Prevent Destruction Of Platelets
Research claims that papaya leaves protect platelet cell membranes and prevent their rupture.
Research has also found papaya leaf extracts to be helpful in dealing with dengue. Both the dengue virus and the antibodies released by your immune system to combat the infection interact with platelets in your blood and destroy them.
Platelets stop blood loss by clotting the blood. When the platelet count falls below normal, leading to thrombocytopenia, you can bleed externally and internally.6 In a dengue patient, this is when the dengue develops into dengue hemorrhagic fever, which can be fatal.
Research suggests papaya leaves can treat the thrombocytopenia associated with this infection thanks to their ability to stabilize cell membranes. This prevents the destruction of platelets due to cell membrane rupture.7
Papaya Leaf Can Increase Platelet Production
Papaya leaf can enhance the activity of the genes responsible for platelet production.
A study found that papaya leaf juice increases the expression of two genes: ALOX 12 and PTAFR, by 15 times and 13.42 times, respectively. ALOX 12 helps produce more megakaryocytes, a type of bone marrow cells which in turn help produce platelets. The PTAFR gene is also responsible for increasing platelet production and aggregating them.
Patients who received papaya leaf juice showed a significant increase in platelet count after 40 hours while the control group who received standard management showed no improvement.8
Grind Or Juice The Papaya Leaves
There seems to be more than one way of using papaya leaves to deal with dengue. Ask your doctor which of these works best in your case.
- 1 spoon of ground papaya leaves every 4 hours increased the platelet count in 2 dengue-affected boys (ages 10 and 14).9
- Fresh juice from 50 g papaya leaves given 15 minutes after breakfast for 3 consecutive days increased platelet count in 40 hours.10
- 5 ml juice of fresh papaya leaves given twice at an 8-hour interval showed an improvement in platelet and white cell count within 24 hour of treatment. The leaves were not too young nor mature and were squeezed by hand. Stalks were excluded. The dose was 2.5 ml for kids below 10.11
Avoid If You Are Pregnant
Do keep in mind though that papaya leaves might not be suitable for you if you’re pregnant. The latex content does pose the risk of abortion.12
Even otherwise, if you have any pre-existing medical condition or are on any medication, keep your doctor informed and try papaya leaves only if you have their go-ahead. Here’s a look at the side effects of papaya.
|↑1||What is dengue?. World Health Organization.|
|↑2||Dengue. National Health Service.|
|↑3||Dengue fever. National Institutes of Health.|
|↑4||Kovendan, Kalimuthu, Kadarkarai Murugan, Arjunan Naresh Kumar, Savariar Vincent, and Jiang-Shiou Hwang. “Bioefficacy of larvicdial and pupicidal properties of Carica papaya (Caricaceae) leaf extract and bacterial insecticide, spinosad, against chikungunya vector, Aedes aegypti (Diptera: Culicidae).” Parasitology research 110, no. 2 (2012): 669-678.|
|↑5, ↑7||Sarala, N., and S. S. Paknikar. “Papaya extract to treat dengue: a novel therapeutic option?.” Annals of medical and health sciences research 4, no. 3 (2014): 320-324.|
|↑6||What Is Thrombocytopenia? National Institutes of Health.|
|↑8, ↑10||Subenthiran, Soobitha, Tan Chwee Choon, Kee Chee Cheong, Ravindran Thayan, Mok Boon Teck, Prem Kumar Muniandy, Adlin Afzan, Noor Rain Abdullah, and Zakiah Ismail. “Carica papaya leaves juice significantly accelerates the rate of increase in platelet count among patients with dengue fever and dengue haemorrhagic fever.” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2013 (2013).|
|↑9||Re, K. N. (2010). Papaya leaves for speedy rise of platelet count in Dengue. Br Med J.|
|↑11||Hettige, S. “Salutary effects of Carica papaya leaf extract in dengue fever patients–a pilot study.” Sri Lankan Family Physician 29 (2008): 17-9.|
|↑12||Krishna, K. L., M. Paridhavi, and Jagruti A. Patel. “Review on nutritional, medicinal and pharmacological properties of Papaya (Carica papaya Linn.).” (2008).|