At a glance:
- Papaya leaves have been traditionally used to treat Dengue
- Several studies have demonstrated its efficacy in dengue treatment, primarily improving platelet count from dengue induced thrombocytopenia
- As little as 50g of fresh papaya leaves, crushed/squeezed to extract the juice and drunk once a day for 3 days was enough to produce significant effects, along with standard dengue treatment
After celebrating the new year in bed with a fever from too many mosquito bites the day before, I feared it was dengue.
Just that day, my naturopath mentor mentioned that papaya leaves were traditionally used to treat dengue fever. He wondered out loud, “Just think how many lives could’ve been saved had more people knew about this!” This motivated me to research more and if the need arose, to test this out on myself.
Carica papaya has traditionally been used as folk medicine for many ailments. Almost every part of the papaya plant has some medicinal uses.
Some notable actions from various parts of the plant include antimicrobial, anthelmintic, anti-amoebic, antifungal, antimalarial, abortifacient, diuretic, hepatoprotective, vulnerary, antifertility, histaminergic, immunomodulatory and antioxidant activity .
Papaya leaves for Dengue
Several studies have investigated the efficacy of papaya leaves in treating dengue. It appears that the main mechanisms involve treating the thrombocytopenia associated with dengue.  In vitro, the extracts have shown membrane stabilizing properties and protect blood cells against stress-induced destruction. 
Several studies mentioned the use of freshly squeezed/crushed papaya leaves to extract the juice for treatment. One papaya leaf gives about 1 tablespoon of juice.
One study mentions a dose of 2 tablespoons, 3x/day at 6-hour intervals. 
Another mentions fresh juice from 50 grams of leaves, once daily, 15 minutes after breakfast for 3 consecutive days along with standard dengue treatment. 
Yet another mentions 25ml of leaves extract orally administered twice daily for 5 consequtive days. 
Thus, more research is required to establish the minimal effective dose but at least we can be assured that all these doses have worked. 
As yet, standard conventional treatment consists mainly of symptomatic relief. Carica papaya offers a cheap and readily accessible complementary treatment. Additionally, from what I’ve learnt so far, there are many herbs that also exhibit antiviral, immunostimulatory and/or pyretic activities that can help with the treatment of dengue fever. It is a pity that they are not used in mainstream medical settings.
Fortunately, my fever never rose above 38.5°C, nor did I get the classic triad of symptoms characteristic of dengue – rashes, headache and fever. I still suspect the numerous mosquito bites were the cause of my fever because I have been feeling perfectly fine and have not been sick for years.
I recovered within a day thanks to plenty of rest, Andrographis and calorie restriction (mostly liquid ‘food’). Despite losing 1 kg in 2 days, I actually felt more energized after this fever than I have in weeks!
- Krishna, K. L., Paridhavi, M., & Patel, J. A. (2008). Review on nutritional, medicinal and pharmacological properties of Papaya (Carica papaya Linn.).
- Sarala, N., & Paknikar, S. S. (2014). Papaya extract to treat dengue: a novel therapeutic option?. Annals of medical and health sciences research, 4(3), 320-324.
- Kala, C. P. (2012). Leaf juice of Carica papaya L. A remedy of dengue fever. Med Aromat Plants, 1, 109.
- Subenthiran, S., Choon, T. C., Cheong, K. C., Thayan, R., Teck, M. B., Muniandy, P. K., … Ismail, Z. (2013). Carica papaya Leaves Juice Significantly Accelerates the Rate of Increase in Platelet Count among Patients with Dengue Fever and Dengue Haemorrhagic Fever. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM, 2013, 616737. doi:10.1155/2013/616737
- Ahmad, N., Fazal, H., Ayaz, M., Abbasi, B. H., Mohammad, I., & Fazal, L. (2011). Dengue fever treatment with Carica papaya leaves extracts. Asian Pacific journal of tropical biomedicine, 1(4), 330–333. doi:10.1016/S2221-1691(11)60055-5
- Rajapakse, S., de Silva, N. L., Weeratunga, P., Rodrigo, C., Sigera, C., & Fernando, S. D. (2019). Carica papaya extract in dengue: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC complementary and alternative medicine, 19(1), 265.