Papaya leaves have always been used as a traditional remedy, and are known to be particularly effective in treating dengue infections. Read on to find out how this humble tropical leaf could be the answer to many illnesses.
In Malaysia, using papaya leaves to treat dengue is a well-known effective traditional remedy, backed up by clinical research from the Malaysian Institute of Medical Research (IMR). Beyond this, this leaf is extremely underrated and not in the same league as more common natural healing ingredients like ginger or turmeric. Intensive medical studies have been carried on every part of the plant (fruit, roots, leaves, seeds) and the results have been promising on many levels, proving once again, that herbal cures passed through the generations can be effective medications.
This leaf contains many nutrients including vitamins A, C and B; iron, amino acids, sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium. It also has potent antioxidant properties due to phenolic compounds, which are great sources of natural antioxidants. Phytochemical (biologically active compound found in plants) analysis has revealed that a main constituent of these leaves is oleic acid, which is a monounsaturated fatty acid also found in avocados and olives.
Why are papaya leaves good for us?
Natural healing agent: Maintaining our health and healing naturally should always be our first option. Using plant-based cures and supplements is becoming the norm and we are naturally turning to traditional remedies and what the older generations relied on and passed information about through the generations. Papaya leaves have both nutritional and medicinal properties making it one of the unsung heroes of plant-based healing!
Treatment and easing of symptoms: Papaya leaves have been used to treat many conditions, in addition to dengue. It’s a well-known digestive aid due to the presence of the digestive enzyme papain, which plays a key role in digestive processes involving breaking down tough protein fibres. As papaya leaves have antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antifungal, antioxidant effects; and boosts immunity, they have the potential to manage diabetes, heart disease, malaria, digestive issues, anaemia, pituitary gland (referred to as the ‘master gland’) function and also promote liver and kidney health.
Powerful anti-inflammatory properties: Dried papaya leaves have been used for the dressing of wounds, to treat fever, arthritis and rheumatism.
Anti-tumour properties: Papaya leaf extract has been used as an indigenous remedy for more serious illnesses like cancer and infectious diseases, which has led scientists to look deeper into its potential as an anti-tumour treatment. So far, studies have shown that leaf extracts have inhibitory qualities against tumours.
It’s important to note that studies have also been carried out regarding the possible toxicity of papaya leaves. When high amounts were given to lab rats, it was noted that it was safely tolerated. There are side effects and these include gastric irritation, diarrhoea and may induce contractions; so it’s not recommended for pregnant women. As with any natural remedy, moderation and knowing the effects of all the ingredients is key.
How to consume
Traditionally for the treatment of dengue, 50 grams of leaves are pounded or blended into a pulp, water is added and the mixture is allowed to steep before the juice is extracted and taken once a day for three days. Boiling the leaves is not advised as heat breaks down the leaf chemistry. It’s also available in capsule and powder form, and as an ingredient in herbal drinks.
As many of us gravitate towards plant-based remedies to help get over illnesses naturally, and change the way we eat and live to become healthier; ingredients like papaya leaves are becoming more mainstream. With research showing such positive results, papaya leaves should be an integral part of your health regime.