RESEARCHERS, looking into how juice of pawpaw leaves cure dengue fever, have come up with findings that it not only cures but improves the health of a patient by increasing the body’s blood platelet count.
In this new study to understand the effects of pawpaw leaf juice as a possible herbal medicine to cure dengue fever, the researchers said the leaves of papaya fruit were high in complex vitamins that might help bone marrow to rapidly increase blood platelet production.
They found that the pawpaw leaves juice caused the blood platelet count to increase. The increase in number of platelets varied from one patient to the other that ranged from 8000 to 11000.
Writing in the Medical Aromatic Plants journal, “As per the medical report of patients, the number of platelets had increased within the prescribed time (24 hours) of drinking leaf juice of papaya in all five patients of dengue.”
The dengue patients had reiterated that there was a significant improvement in their health within 24 hours of taking papaya leaf juice.
A total of five such patients with dengue fever were interviewed for understanding the effects of papaya leaf juice on the ailment. Their blood test reports on the platelets counts were also examined before and after consuming papaya leaf juice.
Dengue fever is one of the life threatening diseases caused by dengue virus (Flavivirus) that is borne and transmitted by mosquitoes. It is found in tropical and sub-tropical climates worldwide, mostly in urban and semi-urban areas.
Also known as break-bone fever, it causes extreme body pain, especially in the joints of bones. Though some preventive measures have been suggested to cure dengue, so far there is no effective medicine and vaccine approved for the dengue virus.
World Health Organisation estimated that every year, 50 million people across the world are infected by dengue and about 2.5 billion people are at risk from this dreadful disease, which spreads over about 100 countries.
Dengue fever is a severe, flu-like illness that affects infants, young children and adults, but seldom causes death. Its symptoms include severe headache, pain behind the eyes, muscle and joint pains, nausea, vomiting, swollen glands or rash.
The dengue virus’ main effect is on platelet production. Normally, a platelet in our body lasts for about five to 10 days and the body replenishes them when required. This virus destroys the body’s capacity to produce new platelets (during the period the virus is effective).
The platelet count for a normal person varies from 150,000 to 250,000 per micro litre of blood. On becoming infected, a patient’s platelet count starts falling. A platelet count below 100,000 per microlitre is alarming – immediate medical attention is required. A platelet count below 50,000 can be fatal.
A fall in the platelet count prevents formation of clots and this leads to haemorrhaging, which results in both internal and external bleeding. Once such bleeding starts, the situation is almost irreversible.
Traditionally, there is a belief that juice of papaya leaves is useful for the treatment of dengue fever. As per this belief, the people collect fresh leaves of papaya and extract their juice by crushing and squeezing.
Only the leafy part is collected not the sap and stalk. The extracted juice is filtered through a clean cotton cloth or filter to remove the uncrushed hard fibres or pieces of leaves. One leaf of papaya gives about one tablespoon of juice, which is quite bitter in taste.
Two tablespoons of papaya leaf juice are given to dengue patient three times per day after every six hours interval. The leaf is not boiled and cooked, as it is believed that rinsing with hot water or boiling makes the leaf lose its strength.
Besides leaf juice of papaya, there are reports indicating that the extract of some other plant, such as Vitex negundo, Azadirachta indica (neem) and Artemisia annua contains properties that work against the viruses.
Recent researches show that pawpaw leaves are also beneficial in the treatment of kidney stones, hypertension, malaria, lack of breast milk, malnutrition, rheumatism, acne, abdominal pain during menstruation and dysentery.
A recent research in the United States, for instance, has given scientific support to a chemical compound in pawpaw tree which is reported to be a million times stronger than the strongest anti-cancer drug.
In addition, papain, the powerful enzyme in pawpaw helps to ease stomach ailments and indigestion. Pawpaw has been effective in easing heartburn and is also given to stimulate the appetite. In many areas of the world, pawpaw is used as a worm expeller.