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Papaya Leaf

Papaya Leaf

Common Names

  • Pawpaw
  • Papaw

For Patients & Caregivers

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Papaya leaf extract has not been shown to treat or prevent cancer.

Papaya tree is common to many tropical regions of the world. Papaya leaves and their extracts are sold as dietary supplements to improve the immune system and platelet counts, and to prevent side effects of chemotherapy. Laboratory and animal studies show that papaya leaf extracts can stop the growth of a variety of bacteria, improve platelet count, and reduce stomach damage caused by alcohol. This product has not been studied in cancer patients.

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  • Antimicrobial
    Lab studies show that papaya leaf extracts can stop the growth of a variety of bacteria.
  • Improve platelet count
    A papaya leaf extract increased platelet count in a patient with Dengue fever. More studies are needed.
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  • Papaya leaf extract has not been tested in humans. It showed low toxicity in animal studies.
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  • Papaya leaf extracts should not be used as a treatment for cancer or for low platelet count until more is known about its efficacy and adverse effects in humans.
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For Healthcare Professionals

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Carica papaya
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Papaya tree is commonly found in tropical areas around the world. The fruits are consumed as food and medicine; dried and powdered stems and leaves are used to prepare medicinal teas against infections and to improve digestion. Papaya leaves and their extracts are also marketed as dietary supplements to enhance the immune system, improve platelet function, and prevent chemotherapy-related adverse effects.

Papaya leaves exhibit immunomodulatory (1), antioxidant (9), and anticancer (11) (12) effects in vitro. The leaf extracts contain antibacterial compounds that inhibit the growth of a wide variety of Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria (4). In mice, a powdered suspension of papaya leaves increased thrombocyte count (2) and a water extract reduced alcohol-induced stomach damage (5). Hypoglycemic effects were also reported with use of papaya leaf extract in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats (10), and it was shown to have low toxicity (6).

According to a case report, a water extract of papaya leaves increased the platelet count of a patient with Dengue fever (3). Data from a randomized study confirm these findings in patients with thrombocytopenia associated with Dengue fever (13). An international patent has been filed for its use in increasing low platelet counts (7). Papaya leaf extracts should not be used as a treatment for cancer or for low platelet count until more is known about its efficacy and adverse effects in humans.

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  • Antimicrobial
  • Improve platelet count
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Papaya leaf extract modulates the immune system by enhancing the production of Th1 type cytokines, such as interleukin (IL-12), interferon (IFN-gamma) and tumor necrosis factor (TNF-alpha). Fractions with molecular weight less of than 1000 are most active in inhibiting tumor cell growth (1). Papaya leaf extract also has antioxidant effects (5) and contains antibacterial and phenolic compounds (6) (8) but the mechanism of action remains unclear.

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  • According to a case report, a water extract of papaya leaf increased platelet count (3).
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  1. Otsuki N, Dang NH, Kumagai E, et al. Aqueous extract of Carica papaya leaves exhibits anti-tumor activity and immunomodulatory effects. J Ethnopharmacol. Feb 17 2010;127(3):760-767.

  2. Sathasivam K, Ramanathan S, Mansor SM, et al. Thrombocyte counts in mice after the administration of papaya leaf suspension. Wiener klinische Wochenschrift. Oct 2009;121 Suppl 3:19-22.

  3. Ahmad N, Fazal H, Ayaz M, et al. Dengue fever treatment with Carica papaya leaves extracts. Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine. 2011:330-333.

  4. Rahman S, Imran M, Muhammad N, et al. Antibacetial screening of leaves and stem of Carica papaya. Journal of Medicinal Plants Research. 2011; 5(20):5167-5171.

  5. Afzan A, Abdullah NR, Halim SZ, et al. Repeated Dose 28-Days Oral Toxicity Study of Carica papaya L. Leaf Extract in Sprague Dawley Rats. Molecules. 2012;17(4):4326-4342.

  6. Alva J. Increasing Low Platelets Instantly. International Publication Number WO 2010041263. World Intellectual Property Organization. 2010.

  7. Antonella DA, D’Arcangelob G, Tagliatestab P. Gas chromatography–mass spectrometry analysis of phenolic compounds from Carica papaya L. Journal of Food Composition and Analysis. 2007;20:584-590.

  8. Okoko T, Ere D. Reduction of hydrogen peroxide-induced erythrocyte damage by Carica papaya leaf extract.Asian Pac J Trop Biomed.2012 Jun;2(6):449-53.

  9. Juárez-Rojop IE, Díaz-Zagoya JC, Ble-Castillo JL, et al. Hypoglycemic effect of Carica papaya leaves in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats.BMC Complement Altern Med. 2012 Nov 28;12:236.

  10. Pandey S, Walpole C, Cabot PJ, et al. Selective anti-proliferative activities of Carica papaya leaf juice extracts against prostate cancer. Biomed Pharmacother. May 2017;89:515-523.

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