Dengue fever is caused by a virus that is being transmitted through the bites of infective female Aedes mosquitoes. This virus is not contagious and cannot be spread directly from person to person. There must be a person-to-mosquito-to-another-person pathway. However, presently there is no specific medicine or antibiotic to treat dengue caused by the virus.
It seems that dengue strikes people with low levels of immunity. The body contains two types of blood cells: red and white. White blood cells help to fight off illnesses. Dengue fever decreases the amount of white blood cells, thus exposing the patient to illness.
Some of the symptoms of dengue fever are: very high fever, nausea, headache, rash and dangerously low blood platelets count.
Dengue starts with chills, headache, pain upon moving the eyes, and low backache. Painful aching in the legs and joints occurs during the first hours of illness. The temperature rises quickly as high as 104° F (40° C), with relative low heart rate (bradycardia) and low blood pressure (hypotension). The eyes become reddened. A flushing or pale pink rash comes over the face and then disappears. The glands (lymph nodes) in the neck and groin are often swollen.
Fever and other signs of dengue last for 2 - 4 days, followed by rapid drop in temperature (defervescence) with profuse sweating. This precedes a period with normal temperature and a sense of well-being that lasts about a day. A second rapid rise in temperature follows. A characteristic rash appears along with the fever and spreads from the extremities to cover the entire body except the face. The palms and soles may be bright red and swollen.
Appropriate medical care frequently saves the lives of patients with the more serious dengue hemorrhagic fever. There is no specific treatment for classic dengue fever, and most people recover within 2 weeks. To help with recovery, health care experts recommend:
1) Getting plenty of bed rest.
2) Drinking lots of fluids for adequate hydration.
3) Taking medicine to reduce fever/severe headache and joint/muscle pain but Aspirin and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs should be avoided as these drugs may worsen the bleeding tendency associated with some of these infections.
4) A platelet transfusion is indicated in rare cases if the platelets level drops significantly (below 20,000) or if there are significant bleeding.
The emails speculating the goodness of papaya leaf juice for curing dengue fever suggested to take 2 tablespoon papaya leaf juice per serving once a day, prepared from using 4 pieces papaya leaf (without stem or sap) after cleaning, pound and squeeze with filter cloth. Someone suggested to juice the leaves using a gear juicer or blend the leaves using a food processor/blender, and then put them in a filter cloth to squeeze out the juice. Do not boil or cook or rinse with hot water, otherwise it will loose its strength. Its taste is horribly bitter and may have to swallow it as if drinking 王老吉 'Won Low Kat'.
Although there may be no scientific proof of this recommendation, but papaya leaf is known to contain very high amounts of vitamins A, C, E, K, B Complex and especially high in B17 (laetrile, which is used for the treatment of cancer). Moreover, papaya leaf juice is believed to increase the number of white blood cells in the body
We have also come across online postings about the use of papaya leaf juice helping dengue patients to increase the platelets count dramatically and later overcome the fever.
“Two of my friends were admitted to the hospital last year and we helped out by making for them, fresh juice from papaya leaves. After taking the papaya leaf juice, their blood platelets count increased rapidly and they were out of the hospital within days. One of them reported their platelets count at a dangerous level of only 8 (normal count is 150 and above). One week after she was discharged, her platelets count shot up to above 300.”
Such discussions on internet or circulation through emails may not be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. However, there is no harm of taking papaya leaf juice after a dengue patient has seen a doctor, and has been advised to have adequate rest and drink lot of water and fluids, whether hospitalized or not.
It's great if such natural cure could help to ease the sufferings of dengue patients. Who knows this might make naturopathy a little more popular as currently it seems that there is no cure for the dreaded dengue reaching epidemic proportions.
But one thing is sure; the only way to prevent dengue virus transmission is to combat the disease-carrying Aedes mosquitoes, by eradicating all possible breeding sites.