Papaya is a delicious tropical fruit, packed with numerous nutrients. This yellowish orange fleshy fruit contains lots of seeds and according to the book “Healing Foods” by DK Publishing House, the fruit is “known to have antibacterial properties and promotes good digestion and almost every part of the plant can be used.”
While the fruit is high in vitamins and beta-carotene, its seeds have a sharp peppery flavor and are abundant in fatty acids and papaya oil. Yet, only a few probably knew that papaya leaves are also incredibly nutritious and can provide numerous health benefits.
Just like the fruit, the leaf is high in enzymes like papain and chymopapain, which help digestion, and prevent digestive disorders, while the strong alkaloid compounds like karpain significantly improve hair health.
Papaya leaves contain more than 50 ingredients, including vitamins (A, B1, C, and E), water, calories, protein, carbohydrates, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, iron, potassium, sodium, and manganese.
Researchers have found that the phytonutrient compounds in papaya leaves act in synergy to display a powerful antioxidant and immune enhancing impact in the bloodstream. Papain, alkaloids and phenolic compounds are responsible for their positive biological effects.
Therefore, papaya leaves strengthen health in various ways. First of all, these leaves increase platelet count.
Platelets (thrombocytes) are blood cells which are in charge of the blood clotting process. They stick one to another when a blood vessel is damaged, and the platelet ball is strengthened with collagen, calcium, and a few other blood components.
If the number of platelets is low, the body cannot stop the bleeding after any damage. The normal range of platelets is 150 to 450 thousand cells per microliter of blood, and everything below 150 thousand cells is considered a low platelet count.
The most common causes of low platelet count include vitamin B12 deficiency, liver failure, severe dehydration, autoimmune diseases, some medications, dengue fever, and Zika virus.
Most studies on the effects of papaya leaves on platelet count are done in the case of dengue fever, as the disease is widely spread in the same parts of the world where papaya is easily accessible.
This tropical infection is caused by the dengue virus and transmitted by mosquitoes, and every year, 50 to 528 million people get diagnosed with it and 20 thousand people die from it. It is a self-limiting disease, but it can cause life-threatening complications, such as platelet destruction, which quickly leads to low platelet count, generalized bleeding, and death.
However, a 2013 study has found that 50 ml (less than 2 ounces) of papaya leaf juice once daily for 3 days straight significantly raised the level of platelets of all 114 subjects.
The following year, it was found that the use of papaya leaf juice for 5 days led to a five-five-fold increase in platelet count (from 28 to 138 thousand per microliter of blood) in a young man suffering from dengue.
Also, a 2016 study showed that papaya leaf extract capsules were highly effective as well, starting from the third day of administration, and caused no side effects. Additionally, papaya leaf extracts were found to be effective in the treatment of any case of low platelets, including the dreadful immune thrombocytopenic purpura.
Yet, these miraculous leaves have numerous other medicinal properties as well:
— Studies have shown that this extract can lower blood sugar, improve blood cholesterol, and boost the function of the liver and pancreas
— Being a potent antioxidant, the papaya leaf extract protects the lining of the stomach from free radical damage, heals peptic ulcers, and treats colon inflammation due to inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD). These leaves also contain karpain, which destroys bacteria that cause problems like gastritis, while papain, protease enzyme, and amylase enzyme in their content break down proteins, carbs, and soothe the gastrointestinal (GI ) tract
— A 2008 study showed that a papaya leaf extract taken in low to moderate doses has anti-inflammatory properties, particularly in reducing joint swelling due to arthritis
— Papaya leaf juice improves insulin sensitivity, regulates blood sugar levels, lowers oxidative stress, and decreases secondary complications of diabetes like fatty liver, and kidney damage
— Vitamins A and C in papaya leaf juice improve skin health and treat a variety of skin conditions and infected cuts, burns, ringworm, bed sores, acne, rashes, bug bites
— Papaya leaf extracts protect the brain from abnormal changes in the balance of signaling molecules and might be able to treat conditions like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases
— The extract of papaya leaf stimulates hair growth, prevent balding and thinning of hair. It is commonly added to anti-dandruff shampoos due to the presence of the karpain compound, an alkaloid component that removes dirt and oil from your scalp, and restores the shiny and vitality of the hair
— You can use this extract as a mouthwash to soothe gum inflammation and treat gum bleeding
— Papaya leaf juice eases the menstrual flow and treats the pain. Its potent healing properties balance hormones, and regulate menstruation cycles.
Make sure you follow these guidelines in order to reap most of the benefits of these leaves:
— You can juice them in a juicer, and store away a small bottle of the juice in the fridge to be consumed within 4-5 days
— You can crush 10 leaves and put them in the blender with a cup of pure drinking water. Blend, and strain afterward using a cheese or muslin cloth. Note that the juice is extremely powerful and bitter, so you can start with only one tablespoon daily and work up to a maximum of two tablespoons. You should not drink water (or other fluids) immediately after. To increase the blood platelet count, just about 50ml (less than 2 ounces) a day of the juice is enough.
— For health maintenance, consume just one tablespoon of papaya leaf juice daily
— You can prepare a tea infusion, by adding 3-5 medium-to-large leaves to about two liters of water. Boil the leaves until the amount of tea has reduced to about half. Leave it to cool, remove the leaves, and consume the tea as needed. You can store it in the fridge for up to 5 days.
— You can purchase papaya leaf extracts are available in the forms of capsules, tea leaves, and tincture, but make sure they are non-GMO and organic
Therefore, incorporate these miraculous leaves into your daily routine and enjoy their healing properties!