Can 'tawa-tawa' cure dengue?


Posted at Sep 02 2010 04:06 PM | Updated as of Sep 03 2010 08:36 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Here in the country, tawa-tawa leaves, also called gatas-gatas, are widely believed to cure dengue fever.

Wilma Banasta, for one, claimed that the plant did wonders to her dwindling platelet count, a usual symptom of the mosquito-borne disease.

After drinking tawa-tawa tea, she said her platelet count rose to 201,000 from the previous 162,000.



"Iyong pinakamababa 162, pero noong uminom ako ng tawa-tawa naging 201. Tumaas siya," Banasta told ABS-CBN News.

The Department of Health (DOH) has said that it is not totally against the use of tawa-tawa leaves to treat dengue, especially as the Philippines recorded a whopping 62,503 cases from January to August 31 this year, up 88% from 2009.

Of the amount, 465 deaths were reported from last year's 350.

The DOH stressed, however, that home remedies such as this should be accompanied by proper medical consultation to get its full effects.

"Walang mga pag-aaral o ebidensiya para tuwirang sabihin na ang tawa-tawa ang nagpapagaling sa dengue. Sa dengue fever ang mahalaga ay 'yong hydration," said Dr. Isidro Sia, director of the DOH's Institute of Herbal Medicine.

For his part, Health Secretary Enrique Ona added, "Wala pa tayong talagang tunay na effort to see whether tawa-tawa is truly effective or not. However, isasama ho natin 'yon sa ating susuriin."

Fruits, too?

A recent study showed that papaya leaves can help dengue fever patients recover from their illness.

Dr. Sanath Hettige, who conducted the research on 70 dengue fever patients, said papaya leaf juice helps increase white blood cells and platelets, normalizes clotting, and repairs the liver.

Speaking to Sri Lankan news agency Lankapuvath, Hettige said these are the main aspects of the body that are affected by dengue fever.

There is a condition to this remedy, however.

According to Hettige, the papaya leaf juice will not be as effective during the final stages of dengue fever since, by then, the patient's organs are already badly affected by the disease.

Given this, he suggested that patients consume the remedy as early as possible.

Meanwhile, durian, a fruit known for its distinct taste and odor, is also rumored to be a cure for dengue fever by increasing a patient's platelet count.

The DOH earlier said, however, that no study has been conducted yet on the efficacy of durian on dengue fever cases. -- With a report from Sol Aragones, ABS-CBN News