Papaya leaf to the rescue - Natural-medicine specialist suggests remedy for dengue fever
As the dengue virus outbreak continues to claim lives amid heightened public concern, a local medical professional with advanced training in natural medicine is suggesting that papaya leaves can help to provide a remedy for those suffering.
At least 46 Jamaicans have died from dengue this year, and there have been more than 6,000 notifications of people contracting the mosquito-borne disease.
Dr Janice Simmonds Fisher, who operates the Bio-regeneration-Integrated Medical Centre, told The Gleaner on Tuesday that the use of papaya for relief from dengue-related symptoms has been known for some time.
“It is fairly well established. A lot of the research comes out of Asia, but it has been demonstrated over again,” said Simmonds Fisher.
The exact constituents in papaya leaves that provide relief are undefined, Simmonds Fisher said, acknowledging that the supposed remedy has not gone through rigorous vetting.
Some medical doctors, The Gleaner understands, have been telling patients not to use papaya leaves because they were unaware of the benefits and risks.
President of the Jamaica Medical Doctors Association, Dr Elon Thompson, said that he has never heard of papaya leaves being a remedy for dengue fever.
He, however, said that he was open to reviewing any evidence that naturopathic practitioners could produce to mitigate against dengue fever, haemorrhagic or otherwise.
“Once the evidence is there, I don’t have a problem with anything to suggest that’s what can help with this great public-health issue. But at the same time, we have to have evidence to back it up,” the JMDA president said.
Thompson also told The Gleaner that the papaya leaf remedy has not been discussed at any level of the association.
Meanwhile, Minister of Health Dr Christopher Tufton urged Jamaicans not to experiment if they identify dengue-like symptoms, but to seek medical intervention immediately.
“I have no clinical evidence of papaya leaf as a remedy for dengue. Home remedies, including bush medicines, have delayed presentation in terms of persons coming to hospitals,” said Tufton.
But the specialist asserted that the papaya leaf has “demonstrated safety, and it demonstrated effectiveness coming out of the trials”.
“I can say, I have never recommended it and it didn’t work. How I particularly like to do it is a cold infusion, so I tell them they can cut up a leaf in a 16oz apple juice or orange juice and sip that throughout the day. They won’t extract any of the alkaloids. They can also blend it in a smoothie or green juice,” she explained.
Simmonds Fisher said that she knows of 30 testimonials of people who were in intensive care units with haemorrhagic dengue who were discharged in two days and who returned to hospital wards to help others.
She, however, underscored that those ailing from dengue should consult with their physician, especially pregnant women or nursing moms.
Simmonds Fisher said that she would be open to having consultations with the health ministry to support its efforts in fighting dengue fever.