December 2, 2019
No one really thinks about their platelets. I am sure plenty of people have never even heard of a platelet. And because they are too tiny to see without a microscope; most people have never laid eyes on their own platelets. Although unrecognized and totally unrewarded, platelets are doing a lifesaving job for you. Platelets are tiny cells that gather together to stop bleeding. We really don’t notice how often we bump, bruise and cut ourselves, and there are other common reasons to bleed such as dentistry and women’s monthly periods. Platelets are an invisible force, stopping bleeding when it occurs.
Unfortunately, some people become aware of their platelets when platelet numbers are too low. Low platelet level causes excess bruising and if bleeding occurs, it becomes hard to stop. The medical term for platelet is thrombocyte, from thromb – clotting of blood and cyte – cell.1 Low platelet level is called thrombocytopenia, penia meaning deficiency.1 Add a couple more complicated medical terms, idiopathic – unknown cause and purpura – purple discoloration from bleeding into the skin and mucous membranes1, and you have a very terrifying medical condition called Idiopathic Thrombocytopenia Purpura. For an unknown reason, platelet deficiency is causing bleeding, called ITP for short. This condition can cause platelets to almost completely disappear.
We don’t know what triggers ITP. It can happen to either men or women and a variety of ages. This condition has terrified me on a personal level, because two of my loved ones have suffered from it. With horrendous bruising, worst nightmare menstrual cycle, fear of bleeding into a joint or their brain, this is a condition that traumatizes the person and their family. It really could be used for a horror movie theme, and thankfully it is rare.
Because this condition has afflicted my family, I like to talk about it, am interested in it, research it and pay attention to it. I spent time working at a clinic that treats patients with disorders like ITP, and I got to be involved in this. Dr. Peter Wagner, one of the physicians at that clinic, had a really interesting case of a patient with ITP, whose platelet levels improved when he started taking papaya leaf extract. As a naturopath, that was exciting to me! Dr. Wagner and I talked about it, observed the patient, recorded what he was taking exactly (brand/formulation/dose) and looked for information on both traditional uses of papaya leaf and any scientific publications on papaya leaf.
While I was at that clinic, I had the opportunity to try the papaya leaf with other ITP patients, and it appeared to work, but not always. I really wanted this information out in the general public, in case someone else with ITP could benefit from it, or in case someone conducting research could study it further. Two wonderful medical writers, Joshua Corn, ND and Kate Hampilos, ND, wrote the recently published article about the cases we observed in our clinic.
You can read the whole article through the link, if you are interested. It contains more information about what ITP is, and what we know about papaya leaf extract. In the meantime, let’s take a second to appreciate the quiet brilliance of our bodies, specifically our platelets!
Effect Of Carica Papaya Leaf Extract On Platelet Count In Chronic Immune Thrombocytopenic Purpura: A Case Series
Katherine Hampilos, ND; Joshua Corn, ND; Wendy Hodsdon, ND; Peter Wagner, MD; Ryan Roop, MD; Elise Anderes, MD; Ly nn Troy, ND
The leaves of Carica papaya have been used to treat thrombocytopenia in Dengue fever in areas where the virus is endemic. This case series describes the use of C. papaya leaf liquid extract (CPLE) as an adjunctive therapy for four patients receiving standard-of-care treatment for chronic immune thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP).
The cases presented here indicate that CPLE may prove beneficial in the management of chronic ITP for patients interested in alternative therapy before progressing to second-line treatments. A larger clinical trial is warranted to evaluate CPLE as an adjunctive therapy in chronic ITP. Click here to read.
1. The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary
2. A Smart Sensing And Quantification Of Platelets, Red Blood Cells (RBC), White Blood Cells (WBC) And Classification Of WBC ‘ S Using Microscopic Blood Image, K. Prabakaran, Imran Khan, Mohammed Burhan Abrar, 4 MohammedAbbas, Salman Khurshid, 2015