Papaya Leaf

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.

How It Works

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 suggest that papaya leaf extracts may inhibit a variety of bacteria and improve platelet counts. Although a study in humans also suggests it can improve platelet counts in patients with dengue fever, a meta-analysis found that evidence was lacking. More study is needed on dosing, safety, and effectiveness before papaya leaf extract can be used for this purpose.

Purported Uses
  • Antimicrobial
    Lab studies show that papaya leaf extracts can stop the growth of a variety of bacteria.
  • Improve platelet count
    Although papaya leaf extract may increase platelet count in patients with dengue fever, evidence is lacking. More study is needed on dosing, safety, and effectiveness before it can be used for this purpose.
Do Not Take If
  • You are a cancer patient or have low platelet counts: More needs to be known about dosing, safety, effectiveness, and adverse effects in humans.
  • You are pregnant: Animal studies have raised concerns about potential toxicities.
  • You have a liver impairment: Animal studies have raised concerns about potential toxicities.
Side Effects
  • Mild gastrointestinal disturbance
  • Rash
Special Point
  • Papaya leaf extracts should not be used in cancer patients or for low platelet count until more is known about dosing, safety, effectiveness, and adverse effects in humans.
Back to top

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 exhibit immunomodulatory (1), antioxidant (9), and anticancer (11) (12) effects. The leaf extracts contain antibacterial compounds that inhibit bacterial growth (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 reported with its use in a diabetic rat model (10), and the extract also appears to have low toxicity (6).

Use of papaya leaf extract to treat dengue fever and increase platelet counts has been described (3). A randomized trial also found significant increases in platelet count in patients with dengue fever (13), but a meta-analysis determined that current evidence is insufficient (14). Therefore, papaya leaf extracts should not be used to improve platelet counts until more is known about its efficacy and adverse effects in humans.

Purported Uses
  • Antimicrobial
  • Improve platelet count
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.

  • Papaya leaf extracts should not be used in cancer patients or for low platelet count until more is known about dosing, safety, effectiveness, and adverse effects in humans.
  • Avoid in pregnant individuals and those with liver impairment, as animal studies have raised concerns about potential toxicities in these populations 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.
Back to top
Back to top
Email your questions and comments to [email protected].

Last Updated