Papaya Leaf

Purported Benefits, Side Effects & More

Papaya Leaf

Purported Benefits, Side Effects & More
Papaya Leaf

Common Names

  • Pawpaw
  • Papaw

For Patients & Caregivers

Tell your healthcare providers about any dietary supplements you’re taking, such as herbs, vitamins, minerals, and natural or home remedies. This will help them manage your care and keep you safe.

What is it?

Papaya leaf extract may improve platelet counts, but more study is needed.

The 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 increase platelet counts.

Lab studies showed that papaya leaf extracts have antibacterial effects. A few clinical studies found benefits of papaya leaf extract in treating dengue fever and in increasing platelet counts.

What are the potential uses and benefits?
  • Antimicrobial

    Lab studies show that papaya leaf extracts can stop the growth of a variety of bacteria.
  • Improve platelet count

    Papaya leaf extract was found to increase platelet count in patients with dengue fever.
What are the side effects?
  • Mild gastrointestinal disturbance
  • Rash
What else do I need to know?

Do Not Take if:

  • You are pregnant: Papaya leaf may not be safe.
  • You have a liver impairment: Papaya leaf may not be safe.

For Healthcare Professionals

Scientific Name
Carica papaya
Clinical Summary

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 prepared as medicinal teas to protect against infections and improve digestion. Papaya leaves and their extracts are also marketed as dietary supplements to enhance the immune system and improve platelet function.

In vitro, papaya leaves exhibited immunomodulatory (1), antioxidant (9), anticancer (11) (12) and antibacterial (4) effects. Papaya leaf extracts were shown to increase platelet counts (2) (16), to reduce alcohol-induced stomach damage (5), and to have hypoglycemic effects in murine models (10).

Clinical studies have reported benefits of papaya leaf extract in treating dengue fever and improving platelet counts (3) (13) (17) (18). Larger studies are needed to increase the evidence base.

Purported Uses and Benefits
  • Antimicrobial
  • Low platelet counts
Mechanism of Action

Major compounds identified in C. papaya leaf are rutin, carpaine, manghaslin, papain, and clitorin (15). Papaya leaf extract modulates the immune system by enhancing the production of Th1 cytokines such as interleukin-12, interferon-gamma, and tumor necrosis factor-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.

  • Pregnant women and those with liver impairment should use caution as animal studies have raised concerns about potential toxicities in these groups with long-term use (15).
Adverse Reactions

Mild gastrointestinal disturbances and rash (15)

Overall, C. papaya leaf consumption in juice and extract form appear to be safe for short-term use (less than 5 days) (15).

Herb-Drug Interactions
  • Although preclinical studies suggest potential interactions with hypoglycemics, P-glycoprotein substrates, and some antibiotics, no specific compounds or biomarkers of C. papaya leaf have been identified as contributors to these interactions (15). Clinical relevance has yet to be determined.
Herb Lab Interactions
  • A case report and clinical trial describe increased platelet counts with a water extract of papaya leaf in patients with dengue fever who had thrombocytopenia  (3)  (13).
Dosage (OneMSK Only)
  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. Indran M, Mahmood AA, Kuppusamy UR. Protective effect of Carica papaya L leaf extract against alcohol induced acute gastric damage and blood oxidative stress in rats. West Indian Med J. Sep 2008;57(4):323-326.
  6. 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.
  7. Alva J. Increasing Low Platelets Instantly. International Publication Number WO 2010041263. World Intellectual Property Organization. 2010.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. Nguyen TT, Parat MO, Shaw PN, et al. Traditional Aboriginal Preparation Alters the Chemical Profile of Carica papaya Leaves and Impacts on Cytotoxicity towards Human Squamous Cell Carcinoma. PLoS One. 2016;11(2):e0147956.
  12. 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.
  13. Kasture PN, Nagabhushan KH, Kumar A. A Multi-centric, Double-blind, Placebo-controlled, Randomized, Prospective Study to Evaluate the Efficacy and Safety of Carica papaya Leaf Extract, as Empirical Therapy for Thrombocytopenia associated with Dengue Fever. J Assoc Physicians India. 2016 Jun;64(6):15-20.
  14. Rajapakse S, de Silva NL, Weeratunga P, et al. Carica papaya extract in dengue: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC Complement Altern Med. Oct 11 2019;19(1):265.
  15. Lim XY, Chan JSW, Japri N, et al. Carica papaya L. Leaf: A Systematic Scoping Review on Biological Safety and Herb-Drug Interactions. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2021;2021:5511221.
  16. Sharma N, Mishra KP, Chanda S, et al.Evaluation of anti-dengue activity of Carica papaya aqueous leaf extract and its role in platelet augmentation. Arch Virol. 2019 Apr;164(4):1095-1110. doi: 10.1007/s00705-019-04179-z.
  17. Gadhwal AK, Ankit BS, Chahar C, Tantia P, Sirohi P, Agrawal RP. Effect of Carica papaya Leaf Extract Capsule on Platelet Count in Patients of Dengue Fever with Thrombocytopenia. J Assoc Physicians India. 2016 Jun;64(6):22-26.
  18. Munir S, Liu ZW, Tariq T, et al. Delving into the Therapeutic Potential of Carica papaya Leaf against Thrombocytopenia. Molecules. 2022 Apr 25;27(9):2760.
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