A Natural Zika Virus Treatment?
Could papaya leaf juice be a natural treatment for the Zika virus?
This article examines the evidence, has an important precaution for pregnant women and explains how to prepare papaya leaf juice for mosquito-borne viral infections like Zika and Dengue.
What Is Zika Virus and What Are the Symptoms?
The Zika virus has quickly reached pandemic levels in many areas of South America and Central America. The World Health Organization has warned that Zika is spreading explosively, disease control efforts are slow and there is no pharmaceutical-based treatment for infection with the virus.
Zika infection is spread by mosquito bites from the Aedes aegypti mosquito. The same distinctive mosquito with white markings the also infects people with Dengue fever, yellow fever and chikungunya virus.
Symptoms of Zika infection are similar to Dengue, including muscle and joint pain, fever rash and extreme fatigue, skin rashes, bloodshot eyes and severe headaches. Many people have only mild symptoms though and some may not even realize they have contracted the disease.
Far more seriously, Zika virus infection has now been linked to microcephaly, a terrible condition where babies are born with abnormally small heads and underdeveloped brains. It’s important to note, if you are pregnant do not use the natural Zika virus treatment ahead. Papaya leaf juice is not safe during pregnancy.
Scientists are also on the verge of linking Zika infection to a debilitating condition called Guillain Barre syndrome. Researchers say they have found that persistent infection from the Zika virus can trigger a chain reaction, causing the body’s own immune system to attack its nerves and resulting in paralysis.
Papaya Leaf Juice As a Natural Zika Virus Treatment
Using insect repellent in areas with Zika infection is very important as modern medicine has no drug-based treatment for the Zika virus. Patients are usually advised to rest, avoid anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin and NSAIDs and get plenty of fluids. There’s not much more doctors can do for them.
This recent news article caught my attention though. Scientists at the University of Technology in Malaysia say they have formulated a successful treatment for Dengue fever based on papaya leaf extract. They also believe the product would treat patients with the Zika virus as well.
Doctor Harisun, from the University, said the treatment should stop either virus from spreading further into the patient’s immune system. While not extensively tested with Zika, it does make sense.
Scientists consider Zika virus to be closely related to Dengue, both are spread by the same Aedes aegypti mosquito, they causes similar symptoms and both viruses are known to cause a dramatic drop in blood platelet counts.
Papaya leaf juice treatment works by increasing blood platelet count and supporting the body’s immune system. I’ve recently have personal experience of just how powerful it can be as a treatment for viral disease and detailed my experience in this article on using papaya leaf for Dengue.
The Malaysian Ministry of Health now recommends papaya leaf juice as a natural treatment for Dengue fever. This came after random controlled trials showed a significant increase in blood platelet count and improved recovery time for those receiving papaya leaf juice.
Of particular importance here is the recent statement by scientists that they are close to linking paralyzing Guillain Barre syndrome to persistent Zika virus infection. Given that there is no effective pharmaceutical option, wouldn’t using papaya leaf juice as a natural treatment for Zika be prudent, especially when there’s a chance of developing serious illness like Guillain Barre?
Ahead I’ll cover how to use papaya leaf juice as a homemade treatment for Zika, but first an important warning for women.
Precaution for Women with Zika
Unfortunately, papaya leaf juice cannot be recommended as a Zika treatment for women who are pregnant or trying to be. The enzyme papain found abundantly in papaya leaf, papaya seeds and green papaya is known to induce miscarriages and could be dangerous to an unborn baby.
Other natural antivirals like garlic and grapefruit seed extract, as well as diatomaceous earth, have also been suggested for Zika virus treatment. However, papaya leaf or other sources of papain cannot be recommended for pregnant women concerned about Zika infection due to the potential danger to a developing fetus.
Preparing Papaya Leaf for Zika Virus Treatment
This preparation method is based on one commonly used for Dengue. As the zika outbreak is so new, there is not the same positive feedback on using papaya leaf juice for zika that you would find for Dengue fever.
As noted above though, the viruses are spread by the same mosquito, present similar symptoms and scientists recognize that they are closely related. The action of papaya leaf juice in increasing blood platelet count is also generally accepted by all but those who dogmatically believe only in pharmaceuticals.
If you do choose to use this papaya leaf treatment then check with your doctor or use at your own risk. It has helped many people with Dengue and in theory should help recovery from the Zika virus as well but may not be appropriate for everyone.
Aside from the warning for pregnant women above, please check other potential side effects of papaya enzymes here, particularly if you have a latex allergy or you are on blood thinning medications.
Method of Preparation
To prepare papaya leaf as a treatment for Zika infection recovery, start by obtaining two fresh young papaya leaves from the lower part of a papaya tree. Ideally look for leaves that haven’t reached full maturity yet. Papaya plants grow wild in many areas of Central and South America so they shouldn’t be too difficult to find.
Papaya leaves are quite distinctive but make sure you harvest them from a proper papaya tree as other plants may be toxic. Papaya fruit on the tree is the best indication or get local knowledge that you trust.
Next, wash them well and tear out the fibrous main stem, keeping just the dark green leaves. Now you can either crush and pound them up and squeeze the juice out with a filter cloth, or, for a much easier method, run the two leaves through a juicer.
If you’re traveling and contract Zika, find a place that makes fresh juices and pay them extra to do it for you. When I did this in Thailand recently I was told it was a fairly common customer request.
However you obtain the juice, drink it on an empty stomach with a big glass of water to wash it down afterwards. Make the papaya leaf juice daily for as long as you have symptoms of the disease. Serious Zika infections can use the treatment every six hours or so if their doctor approves.
You can mix it with some other juice if you like but, to be honest, it will taste pretty terrible regardless. Just holding your nose and swallowing it all in one is probably the best way. If you’re really sick, I’m sure you’d prefer a moment of bad tasting medicine if it can help you recover more quickly.
Final Thoughts on Using Papaya Leaves as a Natural Zika Treatment
There’s a more detailed description of this treatment and the results achieved with it according to blood tests and doctors observations in the detailed article on papaya leaf for Dengue fever. The information there may be just as valid as a natural Zika virus treatment as well.
I’d very much appreciate anyone who takes papaya leaf juice for Zika writing back in with the results they get from using it. A drug-based remedy for Zika looks to be many years away so this may well be the best method we have for treating this virus as things currently stand.
Please take heed of the proportions listed above, particularly for pregnant women, but if this natural treatment could prevent people developing Guillain Barre syndrome from Zika infection, it would be important to spread the word so please share this article with your friends.