What is Dengue Fever?
Dengue is a mosquito-borne viral disease which has spread its tentacles in the tropical areas of the world. It is estimated that there are 390 million dengue infections per year. Efforts for vector control have yielded limited results and there is no specific therapy or vaccination to combat dengue.
Alternate medicine has shown some silver lining. People over a decade have consumed Carica papaya leaf juice or extract, not just to arrest the falling platelet counts but to increase it back to normalcy.
Dengue fever is a tropical disease caused by flavivirus with four distinct serotypes (DV-1, DV-2, DV-3, and DV-4). Mosquito of the Aedes genus, i.e. Aedes aegypti and sometimes Aedes albopictus are the main vectors responsible to spread the virus between humans.
The incubation period is often 3-7 days but could extend to 14 days. The infection course has three phases each marked by different symptoms.
Symptoms in the febrile phase include retro-orbital headache, high fever, rashes, mouth, nose bleeding, vomiting, and diarrhea. Owing to muscle (myalgia), joint pain (arthralgia) and back pain, dengue fever is also known as ‘break-bone fever’. It is in this phase there is progressive drop in platelet count.
The critical or the plasma leak phase is marked by degrees of plasma leak into the pleural and abdominal cavities, also known as pleural effusion or ascites; and gastrointestinal bleeding. Symptoms of hemoconcentration, high hematocrit (the proportion of red blood cells in your blood) with low platelets, liver enlargement and hypotension are also noted. This danger period of dengue lasts for 2-3 days. Dengue shock syndrome and dengue hemorrhagic fever are severe forms of dengue illness that can lead to death.
In the convalescence or reabsorption phase there is sudden arrest of plasma leak and there is reabsorption of extravasated plasma and fluids into the intravascular compartment.
The platelet count rises rapidly in this phase. In some cases an itchy erythematous rash with speckles of white develops. However there is a word of caution. Over load of fluid administration can lead to pulmonary edema (fluid accumulation in the lungs) or heart failure.
While most recover from the 7th day, benign febrile phase, some patients may develop life threatening severity.
During febrile phase the platelets start dropping and can touch the bottom low of 5000/μL. Drop in the platelet count is one aspect of dengue illness, and it is an important factor to take into consideration. People over decade have resorted to papaya leaf juice to increase platelet counts and to fight dengue. Recently a few experiments have been conducted to validate the role of papaya leaf juice to cure dengue and to treat low platelet count.
A pilot study was done on a dengue patient with thrombocytopenia and leukopenia in a tertiary Ayurveda hospital by Deepak BSR and his colleagues.
The patient in a febrile phase was administered 25 ml papaya leaf juice twice daily for a period of eight days along with other conventional treatment.
Routine blood examination revealed the state of thrombocytopenia (the platelet count was 56,000 /µL); and leukopenia (the white blood cell count was 3,600/µL).
On the 8th day of Carica papaya leaf juice administration his platelet count was recorded as 2.29 lakh µL and WBC count was 10.900/µL.
Carica papaya leaves contain various phytoconstituents like tannins, cardiac glycosides saponins, and alkaloids. The alkaloids pseudocarpaine, carpaine, and dehydrocarpaine I and II have a protective effect on the bone marrow. It prevents its destruction and improves its ability to produce platelets. It prevents platelet destruction in the blood. Carica papaya leaves promote formation of blood cellular components or haemopoiesis, especially the myeloblasts and megarkaryocytes in the bone marrow.
Other Studies on Humans
A study was conducted by Nisar Ahmad and his colleagues on a 45 year old patient in Abottabad Medical Complex, Pakistan. In this study the truck driver suffering from dengue was administered 25 ml of aqueous extract of C. papaya leaves twice daily for 5 days. After 5 days period the results were:
- Platelets count (PLT) increased from 55×103/μL to 168×103/μL
- White Blood Cells (WBC) rose from 3.7×103/μL to 7.7×103/μL
- Neutrophils (NEUT) increased from 46.0% to 78.3%.
Another study in Malaysia was conducted involving 290 patients suffering from dengue. They had platelet counts ≤100,000/μL. 117 patients formed the control group.
Fresh juice extracted from 50 g of C. papaya leaves was administered once a day 15 min after breakfast for 3 consecutive days. The intervention group showed significant increase in the platelet counts compared to the control group.
Study On Mice
A study was conductedin a murine model by Sinhalagoda Lekamlage Chandi Asoka Dharmarathna and his colleagues.
Fresh C. papaya leaf extract [0.2 mL (2 g)/mouse] was administered to the test group of 18 mice. Significant increase of platelet count and RBC was reported in the test group as compared to control group.
The washed papaya leaves are ground in a processor or on a mortar with a little water added. When the thick paste is ready, the pure juice is squeezed into a bowl.
Well in case you find the papaya leaf juice unpalatable, carica papaya leaf extracts have recently been available on the shelves in the form of pills and dietary supplements.
The administration of papaya leaf juice was effective in increasing the platelet and white blood cell count in the reported case of dengue which is a mosquito borne disease.
Papaya leaf extract can be consumed in the form of juice or capsule to treat dengue fever, and to increase platelet counts. Try it for at least a week and monitor the platelet and WBC counts. Consult a doctor to find the papaya leaf extract capsule and the papaya leaf juice dosage.
- Dengue fever - (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dengue_fever)
- Dengue Virus - (http://www.cdc.gov/dengue/clinicallab/clinical.html)
- Does Carica papaya leaf-extract increase the platelet count? An experimental study in a murine model - (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3757281/)
- Dengue fever treatment with Carica papaya leaves extracts - (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3614241/)
- The global distribution and burden of dengue - (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3651993/)
- What are Platelets and Why are They Important? - http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/heart_vascular_institute/clinical_services/centers_excellence/womens_cardiovascular_health_center/patient_information/health_topics/platelets.html)
Latest Publications and Research on Papaya Leaves´ Juice to Increase Platelets in Dengue
- Green leaves and seeds alcoholic extract controls Sporobulus indicus germination in laboratory conditions. - Published by PubMed
- The Effectivity of Ethanolic Extract from Papaya Leaves (Carica papaya L.) as an Alternative Larvacide to Aedes spp. - Published by PubMed
- Bioassay-Guided Different Extraction Techniques of Carica papaya (Linn.) Leaves on In Vitro Wound-Healing Activities. - Published by PubMed
- Fig (Ficus carica L.) leaf tea suppresses allergy by acceleration disassembly of IgE-receptor complexes. - Published by PubMed
- Potency of Papaya Leaf (Carica papaya L.) as Toxicant and Repellent against German Cockroach (Blattella germanica L.). - Published by PubMed