TURNING POINT: Fighting Dengue with Tawatawa and Papaya

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NAAWAN, Misamis Oriental (MindaNews / 27 July) — As Dengue rears its ugly head and spreads in near epidemic proportion across the nation, it’s high time we take a deeper look on traditional or customary cure in the absence of big pharma drug to combat the disease.

The folklore herbal medicine against dengue, Tawatawa tea and Papaya leaves extract should not be dismissed or even belittled after all.

Tawa-tawa (Euphorbia hirta), also known as “gatas-gatas,” is a hairy herb that grows naturally in open grasslands, backyards, roadsides and pathways.

A study conducted by UST pharmacy students, published in the Journal of Tropical Medicine, showed that tawatawa contains small amount of phenolic compound sufficient to exert effect in promoting quality and quantity of platelets,” Based on the results of their experiment, the researchers concluded that administering tawa-tawa decoction to animal models help improve their healing mechanism. Tawa-tawa was able to promote cell production, and prevents platelet destruction. Likewise, the improvement in the cell bleeding time and clotting time provided evidence that the indigenous plant can preserve and promote the hemostatic function of platelets.

On the other hand, a study in Pakistan on dengue fever treatment with  papaya (carica) leaves extracts was also published in the Asia Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine.

In the study, a 45 year old feverish (40 C) truck driver bitten by an Aedes aegypti mosquito did not respond to broad spectrum of antibiotic and anti malarial drugs. Three to four patients in the hospital who showed the same symptoms already died. A team of researchers from Peshawar University that was studying at that time on the chemical properties of Carica papaya considered the victim for a papaya treatment case study.

In the treatment, plant material was washed with water, cut into pieces and grinded with blender. 25 mL of aqueous extract of C. papaya leaves was administered to patient infected with Dengue fever. The same dose was given to the patient twice daily i.e. morning and evening for five consecutive days.  The patient’s platelet increased after the papaya treatment, avoided bleeding complication and survived.

The laboratory analysis of papaya leaves extract showed that it contains two important biologically active compounds  namely: chymopapain and papain which are widely used for digestive disorders. It showed that papaya-derived papain, caricain, chymopapain, and glycine endopeptidase can improve acidic pH conditions and pepsin degradation. Other active compounds of C. papaya are lipase, or CPL, a hydrolase, which is tightly bonded to the water-insoluble fraction of crude papain and is thus considered as a “naturally immobilized” biocatalyst. Said compounds increase platelets and prevent platelet destruction, thrombocytopenia or bleeding.

The different chemical properties of papaya also show, accordingly, promise as a strong natural candidate against viral diseases.

Indeed, despite the absence of mechanism or explanation on how they work, traditional beliefs and customs have proven their efficacy in addressing modern maladies.

(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. William R. Adan, Ph.D., is retired professor and former chancellor of Mindanao State University at Naawan, Misamis Oriental, Philippines.)

 

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