Anecdotal evidence suggests that raw papaya leaf extract helps boost platelets, also known as thrombocytes. A few recent studies have also shown the leaf’s effect in tackling dengue. A 2009 Malaysian study, conducted on mice, also reported significant improvement in thrombocyte count in the group which received papaya leaf formulations as compared to the control group. It seems that this bitter green juice is promising without posing any serious side-effects.
Papaya leaf, interestingly, has also been found to possess powerful anti-malarial and anti-cancer properties. Its extract has been used in some parts of the world as a prophylactic to prevent malaria. A Purdue University study showed papaya leaf consists of over 50 active ingredients, known to kill fungi, worms, parasites, bacteria, and many forms of cancer cells. In addition, papaya leaves also contain important nutrients that support the immune system — vitamins A, C, E and Papain, an important enzyme that breaks down proteins naturally and aids digestion. For dengue, papaya juice can be extracted by crushing and sieving fresh leaves. One leaf of papaya gives about a tablespoon of bitter juice. Two tablespoons of papaya leaf juice can be given to dengue patient three times a day in six-hour intervals.
Also known as Guduchi (a plant that protects from diseases in Sanskrit), Giloe enjoys the reputation of being one of the most famous medicinal plants in Ayurveda. It too has been reported to help treat dengue in early stages without any side-effects. It has been reported to increase platelets in a significant manner and lower body temperature. Giloe, known as Rasayana plant in Ayurveda, has been reported to enhance general body resistance and promote longevity. It has also been reported to have anti-stress and adaptogenic properties.
Nutritionally, Giloe is high in fibre, potassium and chromium, and is a good source of proteins, carbohydrates, iron and calcium. Several bio-active components like alkaloids, flavanoids, tannins and plant steroids have been isolated from different parts of the plant and contribute to its high antioxidant status and curative properties. These components have also been reported to play an important role in blood glucose regulation, anti-diabetic potential, cholesterol lowering and anti-inflammatory effects. Giloe has also been reported to possess immune-stimulating properties.
Tulsi, the ‘Queen of Herbs’ as implied by its name Ocimum Sanctum in Greek, is a much-cherished herb by virtue of its healing properties. Among its innumerable benefits, Tulsi reduces stress, enhances endurance, increases oxygen utilisation, boosts the immune system, slows ageing, reduces inflammation, prevents gastric ulcers, lowers fevers, cholesterol and high blood pressure. It also protects teeth and gums, fights bacterial, viral and fungal infections, improves digestion and provides a rich supply of anti-oxidants and other nutrients. A premier adaptogen, Tulsi offers remarkable preventive and curative potential with respect to many stress-related degenerative disorders. The leading active compounds in Tulsi include eugenol (volatile oil), ursolic acid and rosmarinic acid. Its seeds contain essential fatty acids – linoleic acid and linolenic acid. Although, not of much nutritional significance, Tulsi does contain vitamins like A and C and minerals calcium, iron, and zinc.
It has also been reported to have mild hypoglycemic (lowering of blood sugar) and blood thinning properties which must be kept in mind by diabetics and heart patients on medication. As the long-term use of herbal medicines/ preparations has not been well established, these must be administered under professional supervision and guidance. In addition, herbal medicines must not be consumed by pregnant women, nursing mothers, toddlers and infants. A word of caution, especially for those suffering from auto-immune diseases and are taking immune-suppressants as these herbs may interfere with the medication.