Between 2006 and 2012 the National Vector Borne Diseases Control Program reported an annual average of 20,474 dengue cases and 132 deaths caused by dengue. In 2015, the number of dengue cases reported has doubled in India. The economic burden of treatment and hospitalization add to the agony of the average Indian.
Dengue infection is a viral infection spread by mosquitoes and is the fastest spreading in the world. It occurs especially in tropical and subtropical countries. After 2 – 7 days, the patient typically experiences the sudden onset of fever, headache, retro-orbital pain (occurring behind the orbit of the eye) and back pain along with the severe muscle pain due to which dengue fever is also known as “break-bone fever.” The illness may last a week, usually with additional symptoms such as anorexia (loss of appetite), nausea or vomiting.
Dengue virus induces bone marrow suppression resulting in low platelet count. In dengue fever, blood reports show leukopenia (low white blood cell) and thrombocytopenia or low platelet count
Unfortunately, there is no approved vaccine or drug against this dengue virus, and is treated like all other fevers. In the absence of a definite drug/medicine, people are turning to natural cure or alternate medicine. Papaya leaf extract offers a promising and affordable solution for dengue.
Carica papaya L. (CP) otherwise known as the papaya pear is found in most tropical and subtropical countries of the world. It is a small tree, the single stem growing from 5 to 10 m tall. The leaves are large, 50 – 70 cm diameter, deeply palmate lobed with 7 lobes.
Beneficial components in papaya leaf
- The leaves of papaya contain many active components that can increase the total antioxidant activity in blood such as papain, chymopapain, cystatin, tocopherol, ascorbic acid, flavonoids,c etc
- Papaya leaves are protective against inflammation or infections due to the alkaloids, flavonoids, saponins, tannin, and glycosides present .
- Papaya leaves extract have anti – bacterial effect
- Hot -water extract of the leaves is taken orally as an antipyretic (against fevers), treatment of anemia, and appetite stimulation.
How to prepare the papaya leaf juice / extract?
Tender papaya leaves need to be washed thoroughly and deveined. Leaves are grinded with little water using a stone grinder or mixer and the juice is strained.
25ml (5 teaspoons) twice daily for up to 5 days
The alkaloids present in the papaya leaf act on the bone marrow – prevent its destruction and enhance its ability to produce platelets. It can also prevent platelet destruction in the blood and thereby increase the life of the platelet in circulation. Platelet counts have shown to increase from around 55,000 to 1.75 lakhs within 7-8 days of initiation of papaya juice in most case-studies.
The administration of papaya leaf juice is found to be beneficial in increasing the platelet and white blood cell count in dengue patients. It is a non toxic treatment free of side effects. Nature , once again, provides an astonishing cure to a fatal disease and reinforces the need to protect and nurture it.
Dr Pooja Chhawcharia is the Senior Nutritionist at eKincare with over 7 years of experience in Nutrition education, diet counseling and research. She is a Registered Dietician with the Indian Dietetic Association and Certified Diabetes Educator recognized by the International Diabetes federation . She is also interested in ancillary sciences such as Yoga and Naturopathy.