ONE OF OUR TREES OF LIFE, PAPAYA TREE…the juice of its tender green leaves is popularly used to combat low platelet count in dengue patients, many swear by its effectiveness and general do good properties. Many up-to-date mainstream doctors prescribe it while some stand on ceremony saying it is traditional grandmother’s remedy in India and South East Asian countries! But several evidence-based trials confirm papaya leaf juice significantly accelerates the rate of increase in platelet count among patients with dengue fever and dengue hemorrhagic fever. Pharmaceutical companies are now marketing papaya leaf extract capsules or tablets at exorbitant cost!

By Tara Narayan

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FUNNY, for some time now I’ve been listening to most everyone telling me if you’re down with dengue drink 30 to 40 ml of juice of papaya tree leaf juice morning and evening. Suddenly I notice in recent weeks papaya trees close to where I live in Dempo bhat, Tonca, are pretty much butchered! It just means there’s dengue/malaria around and in almost every home folk are drinking papaya tree green leaf juice.
In Deepa tai’s home three members of her family were down with dengue and one morning when I dropped by she was busy preparing fresh papaya tree leaf juice, washing the leaves, chopping them, grinding and squeezing out juice efficiently…she looked at me and told me some family members were down with dengue and they’ve been to doctor and GMC where her grandson as admitted, “He is taking doctor’s medicines but we also make him drink the papaya juice.”
Last week at the GMC I asked the genial Dr Rajesh Patil about the efficacy of papaya tree fresh green leaf juice and he said they don’t prescribe such things for dengue but they cannot stop patients taking it anyway. Why must mainstream medicine knock natural medicines when there are so many positive patients’ testimonies? In the countries of the west it is mainstream medicine practitioners who’re open to taking a second, third look at alternative medicines? He shrugged, maybe one of these days they would take a call on this one, but not until evidence turns up loud and clear in scientific trial studies.
As a matter of fact there are many studies indicating the efficacy of papaya tree leaf juice and many mainstream doctors treating dengue patients are including it in their prescriptions, there is Caripill tablets (Carica Papaya Leaf Extract costing a whopping `440) and I believe that Himalaya too put out papaya extract tablets, recently. I’ve lost track of how many people have told me, dengue? Please drink papaya tree leaf green juice. I put it up on Facebook and got several responses testifying to the goodness of papaya green leaf juice, Darell DeMello said “boil papaya leaves, blend, drink, platelet count will increase.” Marianne Furtado De Nazareth said, “It’s a proven remedy, we gave so many people our papaya leaves and they said they were much better with the juice of the young leaves.”
Deepak J Singh said, “My son about five years ago got dengue and I made him drink the juice after grinding it in the liquidizer. He did not need to be hospitalized.”
Skeptical Satendra Desai asked, “Where is the evidence? It’s like bitter gourd (karela) for diabetics.” Karen Dias, said: “The patient has to be willing to drink papaya juice too. Unfortunately some patients don’t want to try home remedies.” Also as another commentator mentioned “sometimes home remedies and medical treatment don’t go hand and hand. Home remedies may take too long to act.” Ruben Quadros said, “It’s the only remedy for dengue. My dear friend Ira said, “Papaya juice working like miracle. Within 12 hours platelet count increased from 68,000 to 2,00,000. Dengue fever is high all over India, please share this message, save life.”
Doctors prescribe it. But Dr Ajay Netalkar of Manipal Hospital said, “Let’s first do proper research on papaya leaves and then talk please. We will treat by grandmother remedies once there is scientific proof in double blind studies.” There’s more but I’ll skip it.
MY OWN reading up tells me in dengue and especially in the more deadly haemorrhagic variety the falling platelet count is of utmost concern if they fall below 10,000 platelets per microlitre, then dangerous internal bleeding may start and this can be fatal. Something called thrombocytopenia sets in and causes the bleeding even in the brain…it’s a serious complication. In a hospital the quick fix treatment when platelet counts drop in dengue or other patients doctors quickly prescribe platelet transfusion. Time is of the essence in diagnosis and treatment in the case of haemorrhagic dengue.
Of course I understand all this. Upon correct diagnosis of dengue strain it is important to seek hospitalization and treatment. However, if there is so much evidence saying that a natural medicine like fresh green papaya leaf juice helps boost platelet count why can’t it also be adjuvant treatment in mainstream medicine? After all what is fresh green papaya leaf juice but a juice rich in enzymes like papain and chymopapain (which aid digestion, prevent bloating and after digestion disorders). It is also rich in folic acid amongst other things. Google and read up the randomised controlled Gadhwal studies on Medline. Many studies testify to the goodness of papaya green leaf juice to increase platelet count in patients who have become resistant to antibiotics…juices and especially green juices are perceived as refreshing healing juices.
In Naturopathy at various times one is urged to drink neem or kerala juice, pomegranate or beetroot juice, carrot juice, turmeric juice made sublime with lemon juice and so on. There is something called fresh juice therapy prescribed when a patient is half-dead or something like that. I see nothing stupid if the Sodexo kitchen at the GMC serves dengue patients with papaya tree leaf juice twice a day, along with their wholesome meals!
Health Minister Vishwajit Rane has already accepted that proper nutrition is directly related to recovery of patients, why not also introduce juice therapy — fresh leafy juices, how about turmeric and pinch of black pepper in Sodexo’s glass of milk? Or aloe vera juice? Or beetroot, carrot, celery juice, just 30 ml of it, but freshly squeezed… for patients febrile and suffering from malnutrition courtesy whatever disease bothering them? Think about it.
WELL, all this and no more. All of this week I’ve been trying to keep track of Jonathan Otto’s nine episodes of docu-series on natural medicines to prevent and treat chronic diseases such as autoimmune conditions, dementia, Alzheimer’s, depression, anxiety and so much more which drags us down today in mind and body, heart and soul. The episodes marketed on Facebook cover a gamut of issues like how to prevent and treat inflammation, obesity, aging, memory loss, heart disease and many other conditions. Can Natural Medicines really reverse disease? In the docu-series 57 doctors throw light and share valuable information. If interested log in to or call 1-888-744-2614.
To say the least here, I’m fascinated by all the stuff investigative journalist and filmmaker Jonathan Otto has put together in his docu-series and somewhere he quotes our very own Dr Vandana Shiva, “Only 5% of cancers are genetically based. Yet all the research is on genetic cures for cancer, when we know 95% come from poisons in our food.”
Do you know that “Food is a very, very silent addiction and it does cause our body to commit suicide…”? (quoting Liana Werner Gray) And, “sugar essentially acts like cocaine. It fires up the same receptors and the neurotransmitters that cocaine does…? (quoting Dr Ayesha Sherzai). And a Dr Joel Fuhrman cannot reiterate enough that diet, sleep and exercise are the cornerstone to a healthy long life!
I think my body is committing suicide currently! It all begins with what we put in our mouth — it must be organically cultivated, sourced locally, eaten as close to nature as possible for various reasons which make sense. It’s the only way to stay fighting fit but can we do it in today’s fast-paced, frenetic times when we’re all chasing the good life of doomsday? Most of us are utterly lost in our lifestyle fundamentals, lacking in common sense. Like I like to say here over and over again, we just don’t know how to live and we have nobody to blame except ourselves. So do we deserve to die a dog’s or cow’s life?

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