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Papaya leaf juice a way to treat dengue

The Ministry of Health finally admitted that papaya leaf juice is useful treatment for dengue patients after more than a year of waiting.

Papaya leaf dengue treatment.


Malaysian researchers have found a new way to treat dengue fever.
By Susan Tam

You know that papaya tree in your backyard? It’s got a secret remedy.

Here’s what it is: While we know that the papaya fruit is a great source of vitamins A and C, its leaves hold the possible answer to treating dengue fever.

This is what a group of Malaysian researchers have found: juice extracted from papaya leaves helps increase the platelet count in patients with dengue fever. To put this in perspective, there has been no real cure to a serious dengue infection to date.

Dengue has plagued Malaysia since 2002, with a whopping 20,000 case reported last year.

All doctors and nurses can do at the moment is provide treatment – known as supportive treatment – to manage the infection in patients. This means that a person suffering from dengue fever or dengue hemorrhagic fever will only be treated with either fluids or blood transfusions, to manage the symptoms of the disease. Unfortunately, this type of treatment does not always work.

All that may just change with this discovery.

So what does this new research tell us? Led by Dr Soobitha Subenthran, a team from the Institute for Medical Research in Kuala Lumpur discovered that the ‘carica papaya’ leaf juice helps increase platelet count in patients with dengue fever. Their results were published in March, in an Egyptian-based medical journal called, Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, published by Hindawi Publishing Corporation.

Carica Papaya is a fancy name for the typical papaya tree you see growing all over Malaysia. The team tested the juice to make sure that it is safe for human consumption. They then worked with teams from the Tengku Ampuan Rahimah Hospital in Klang to conduct clinical trials on 228 patients with dengue fever and dengue haemorrhagic fever.

Half of the patients received 50 grams of fresh papaya leave juice for three consecutive days while the rest received standard treatment. While the treatment was administered, the team studied the patients’ blood count for two days. They found that the platelets in the blood of the patients that received the juice had increased significantly.

Why is platelet important in treating dengue fever? This disease causes severe bleeding, so boosting platelet in the patient’s blood helps him or her overcome the worst of the fever.

The breakthrough in this government-funded research is important because previous attempts to find a cure for dengue faced many obstacles, including having to deal with mutations of the virus.

“It can be concluded that the administration of ‘carica papaya’ leaf juice in dengue fever is safe and does induce the rapid increase in platelet count.

“It may play a valuable role in the management of DF in the near future,” the team wrote in their concluding remarks of the paper.

You can read more from the actual research paper here.

The rest of the team comprised of Tan Chwee Choon, Kee Chee Cheong, Ravindran Thayan, Mok Boon Teck, Prem Kumar Muniandy, Adlin Afzan, Noor Rain Abdullah, and Zakiah Ismail.

The comment board with Facebook account.
Andy Low says:

You are right that we did not truly know whether the “fake papaya treatment” was given to the control group.

Since the procedures are not mentioned, I don’t think it is sensible to “assume” that the researchers did administer null treatment. We can assume a hundred things. I’m curious that why you sort of trusting this paper based on this shabby assumption?

Looking at these incompetences, I think it is fair for us to discount the findings. Don’t trust it.

nkkhoo says:

My blog is not a medical journal. I still hold the researchers responsible for their findings.

Andy Low says:

You said: “How an experimenter to run an experiment blindly and not knowing the control group? You must be a genius, and please share your theory in the Natural Science journey. LOL”

I think you are not clear about how a proper clinical trial should be. I pretty sure any medical science or even life science students learn all these 101 thingy during their undergraduate.

The experimenter has to give a null treatment to the control group. The null treatment can be some “something” resembling the papaya thingy but contain zero papaya. This null treatment is important to minimize placebo effect.

nkkhoo says:

No special clinical trial in the medical science, all industries are following the basic rules of DOE.

I doubt doctors without DOE training knows how to take sample, to determine sample size, to collect data randomly and draw conclusion.

No mention “fake papaya solution” for the control group in the experiment does not mean the step is omitted if they are very poor in writing a technical paper.

If they did omit the step, then I agree with you the experiment is flawed.

Write to them and ask them for experiment details instead of attacking our researchers in my blog with your own assumptions.

Andy Low says:

If they indeed did the blinding and proper control but failed to report it on that paper, this incapability is even more worrying.

nkkhoo says:

May be they cannot write a proper technical paper or indeed running a poor experiment, that’s why their paper never got published in the Nature or other renowned medical jorunals.

Andy Low says:

If the nurses, on-duty doctor and lab technician not knowing the trial at all, then I would agree that this is a proper clinical trial i.e. blinded trial.

Obviously, this is not the case since the researcher did not mention it in their article.

On top of that, there is no proper control. The so called control group did not even receive any sort of “null treatment”.

So, I feel that this kind of clinical trial is pointless. In hokkien we said:” Ka Ki Kong, Ka Ki Song” LoL

nkkhoo says:

I have never said an experiment has to be kept in total secrecy from the doctor, nurse and technician to achieve reliable result. The randomness can be arranged to cancel off chance error.

There is unethical to conduct “null treatment” for life threatening disease patients like dengue. If both control and experimental groups are receiving same traditional treatment without bias, a null baseline is established.

I do not think it’s fair to jump to your conclusion until you consult and understand how they ran the trial. You may be right or wrong.

Andy Low says:

For sure, the experimenters have no supernatural power to change the patients’ platelet count.

It is also TRUE that other experimenters have no supernatural power to change say cholesterol level or blood pressure level of patients. So, according to your theory, there is no need for blinding for such clinical trials (i.e. test for cholesterol and blood pressure lowering drugs) because the experimenters have no “supernatural power” to change the patients’ cholesterol level and blood pressure level.

For this particular experiment, the experimenters could have introduced bias in many aspects of the experiment, for examples: (i) treating the treatment group with “extra care” so resulting a better recovery i.e. higher platelet count and (ii) conscious or unconsciously giving a higher platelet counts to the treatment group during the platelet counting step.

To claim ” Malaysian researchers have found a new way to treat dengue fever”, I feel that this statement is totally inappropriate since the trial was flawed and also a preliminary one.

I agree with you that many non-academicians love to talk big about science. Such action not only embarrassed them but also misled other lay people.

nkkhoo says:

How an experimenter to run an experiment blindly and not knowing the control group? You must be a genius, and please share your theory in the Natural Science journey. LOL

The platelet count not necessary done by the experimenter, the lab technician is more qualified than the doctors. If the lab technician is not knowing the experiment control group, any biasness can be eliminated easily.

The nurses without knowledge on which group is the control group (if the experimenter knows how to run proper experiment), where is so-called extra care error induced?

Your professor will not deny such method is a double blind trial if lab technical and nurse are blinded on the control group.

I never know an experimenter can be totally blinded to design an experiment, although teaching Design of Experiment subject is one of my rice bowls.

To single out a result of experiment without replicate the experiment with the same conditions is absurd.

The method was used generations by old folk to treat dengue. The doctors are merely to use better and more scientific method to understand its mechanism. The approach is hundred times better than hearsay in the Chinese traditional medicine.

Andy Low says:

I probably won’t trust this paper since it is not even a double-blind trial.

nkkhoo says:

That was a preliminary trial.

The platelet count is not affected by any type of trial unless the experimenter has super natural power to change the platelet count in the blood.

Double bind trial will not change the platelet count in the patient.

Sometimes people to blind talk like an academia without the full understanding on design of experiment.