Friday 4 October 2013

Can papaya leaves help cure dengue?

Can papaya leaves help cure dengue?

by Pavitra Sampath

The capital is grappling with the burden of dengue, and with the numbers steadily rising, people are looking for alternative methods to treat the disease. One such, much talked about remedy is the use of papaya leaf juice to heal the body ravaged by dengue. While some people claim that it is simply a belief, others swear by the remedy. So, what is the truth? In this post we demystify the clutter.

Truth or hoax?

While some people say that it is simply a hoax, there might be some truth to papaya leaf juice's claim to fame after all. A number of scientific papers have proved that papaya leaf juice is actually beneficial for the body. One of the first papers to talk about the benefits of the papaya leaf juice was studied by Dr Nam Dang at the University of Florida, research center [1]. He found that the papaya leaf juice was capable of fighting cancer, was non toxic to the body and had the capability to improve one's immunity. While the plant's leaf is well known for its curative properties in diseases like malaria and cancer, Dr Sanath Hettige, a general physician in Sri Lanka, found that the juice of young leaves can be used to treat dengue. His paper was published in the Sri Lankan Journal of Family Physicians in 2008[2].

How does it work?

Papaya leaves are known to be packed with the enzymes like chymopapin and papain that, according to Dr Sanath Hettige, normalise the platelet count, improves the clotting factor (helps the blood clot normally), improves one's liver function and repairs the damage to the liver done by dengue, therefore helping an ailing person recover from the disease. (Read: Dengue fever: Symptoms, medication and prevention)

How to use the papaya leaf?

The  young leaves from a fruit bearing papaya plant should be used. According to Dr Hettige, the leaves of the Red Lady papaya plant (found commonly in India) are more effective. The important fact is that one should choose leaves that are not too old, neither too young. Now, take only the leafy part and not the stalk and wash them well with water. Crush the leaves using a wooden mortar and pestle without any additives like water, salt or sugar. Once they are crushed, squeeze out the juice with clean hands and drink it two times a day. Do not add any salt or sugar to the drink. According to Dr Hettige,  an adult should have 10 ml of the juice twice a day (or at eight hour intervals), children between the age of five and 12 should have 5 ml of the juice twice a day and those below 10 years of age should be given 2.5ml of the juice. [3]

At what stage should a patient ideally have the juice?

According to Dr Sanath, it is best the patient start having the juice as early as possible. This means that when they notice the first symptoms of dengue fever (when their platelets show a decline in numbers below 150000 cu mm or when the packed cell volume goes above 10%). It is also beneficial at later stages, but if the condition has progressed and has led to organ failure, the juice is not very effective. (Read: Natural remedies to boost your immune system)

This article is only about a home remedy, although it has been certified by a doctor, it is best one visit a physician at the earliest in the case of dengue.

The quotes from Dr Sanath is from an interview given by him to WelcomeToNature.

For more articles on diseases and conditions, check out our diseases & conditions section and for videos, check out our YouTube Channel.  

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