Papaya (Carica papaya) is an evergreen flowering tree that is valued for its buttery fruit that is believed to offer many health benefits. The amazing papaya fruit contains enzymes and compounds that can prevent cancer, ageing and can promote healthier heart.
Papaya (Carica papaya) is one of the all year round favorite dessert fruits known for its sweet, juicy, melt on your mouth flesh. Papaya is not only delicious but it is likewise packed with vitamins and minerals that offer many health benefits for the usual papaya lover.
According to Wikipedia, papaya may have probably originated from the tropics of America especially southern Mexico where it was first cultivated and was later propagated in other tropical and sub-tropical countries in the continents of America, Australia, Africa and Asia.
The papaya plant which has a semblance of a tree has usually one erect trunk that can grow to about 4 to 7 meters in height. Papaya tree is characterized with large green leaves that have seven to nine deeply palmate lobes with elongated hollow petioles spirally confined at the top of the trunk. Older leaves are shed off as the tree grows leaving scars at the trunk.
Papaya fruits have smooth skin, green while young turning yellow when ripe. Papaya fruit varies in size and shape depending on the variety and type of plant. The common Philippine papaya is usually pear shape about 10 to 40 cm in length upon maturity. Ripe papaya feels soft, the skin has a yellowish color and when opened it has soft orange-yellowish flesh with numerous small black seeds embedded at the hollow center.
Papaya is widely used as folkloric herbal medicine. Papaya is known for the following health benefits:
Acne and skin infections. Papaya contains Vitamin A which provides a fresh and glowing skin. It is used in Acne control and protects the skin from infections.
Wound Healing. Papaya helps to speed up the healing of wounds. Papain extracted from the fruit and leaves is also the main ingredient of an ointment popularly used as a topical application for cuts, rashes, stings and burns.
Anti-aging. Papaya is rich in antioxidants that helps defer premature aging. It is widely used in cosmetics as an exfoliant and skin softener and whitener.
Improves and preserves good vision. The vitamin A rich papaya helps in preserving good eyesight. It also contains flavonoids and Beta carotene that protects against Macular degeneration.
Anthelmintic. The compound papain found in the seeds of papaya can destroy and flush out worms from the body. Ingest Papaya seeds with honey 30 minutes before or after a meal.
Constipation and dyspepsia. Papaya fruit is rich in fiber that improves digestion and softens the bowel movement.
Colon Cancer. The anti oxidant activity coupled by rich fiber content of papaya fruit helps in absorbing the toxins from the colon that protects the good cells from free radicals and damage. This in turn helps prevent the development of colon cancer.
Lowers the blood pressure. Papaya fruit contains a good amount of Calcium and Potassium. These minerals are important in regulating the blood pressure and metabolism.
Prevents atherosclerosis and heart disease. Papaya is rich in vitamins A and vitamin C, well known powerful antioxidants that inhibits the oxidation of cholesterol in the blood and prevents the build up of plaque along the inner walls of the arteries. Unchecked plaque build up is the main cause of heart attack or stroke.
Weight loss. The rich vitamins and minerals of papaya fruit coupled by high fiber content and the low calories makes this an ideal food for weight loss. That is why it is good for Diabetic patients.
Boosts the immune system. The vitamins,, minerals and coumpounds found in papaya fruit are known to strengthen the immunse system of the body, improving resistance against illness and infections.
Menstruation and pregnancy. Papaya fruit regulates the menstrual flow and eases the condition in menstrual cramps. It is also used to alleviate the symptoms of morning sickness for pregnant women.
Abortificient. Extracts from papaya roots are used to abort early pregnancy .
Dengue fever. The papaya leaf juice is used in treating dengue fever. It helps in increasing the platelet count in a dengue patient.
An article published in Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine (2011 Aug) reported a study that investigated the potential of Carica papaya leaves extracts against Dengue fever in 45 year old patient bitten by dengue virus carrier mosquitoes. The patient was given a dose of 25 mL of aqueous extract of Carica papaya leaves twice daily for five consecutive days. Before the extract administration the blood samples from patient were analyzed. It was noted in the report that the platelet count continuously increased in the duration of the treatment and the condition of the patient dramatically improved. The study suggests that based from the patient’s recovery and blood reports, Carica papayaleaves aqueous extract exhibited potential activity against Dengue fever. Furthermore, the different parts it is recommended that other parts of Carica papaya may be beneficial against viral diseases. Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3614241/
The Pakistan Journal of Biological Sciences, issue of March 2011, reported a study on the phytochemistry and heamotological potential of the ethanol seed, leaf and pulp extract of Carica papaya. In this study, it was identified that the phytochemical contents in the seeds, leaf and pulp of Carica papaya were almost the same but in varying proportions. It was also observed that the phytochemicals found in Carica papaya significantly improved (P<0.05) the production of certain blood parameters in treated albino rats. This study suggests that Carica papaya may have potential health benefits for blood related medical problems. (Source : http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21902066)
The Journal of Natural Product Research, issue of December 2011 reported that a study done in INFORMM, Malaysia identified the phytochemicals in Carica papaya that may have anti diabetic properties. The ethanol extracts of Carica papaya and Pandanus amaryfollius were administered to a group of streptozotocin induced diabetic rats to measure its anti diabetic effects. Results have shown that there was a significant reduction (P<0.05)in the blood glucose level in the Carica papaya treated group in comparison to a control group. Histologically the pancreas of the treated groups indicated significant regeneration of the β-cells and liver tissues indicated a reduction in fatty changes and pyknotic nucleus. Moreover, the kidney tissues of the treated groups indicated significant recovery in the cuboidal tissue. The study suggests that the phytochemicals found in C. Papaya and P. amaryfollius may be responsible for the anti diabetic health benefits. (Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21707251)
In a published report in Nuero Endocrinology Letters 2013, a research was done in Vienna, Austria to verify the folkloric health benefits of Carica papaya for digestive disorders. Clinical trials involving volunteers with chronic (prevailing) indigestions and dysfunctions in the gastrointestinal tract were given papaya preparation (Caricol). They were compared to a control group given a placebo. Results have shown that there was a significant improvement in the symptoms of “indigestion” and “bloating” for those under the papaya preparation as compared to the control group. The study concludes that the papaya preparation (Caricol®) contributes to the maintenance of digestive tract physiology. It ameliorates various functional disturbances, like symptoms of IBS. (Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23524622)
The British Journal of Nutrition, August 2002. published a study done in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, National University, Singapore on the common belief of some Asian communities that eating papaya can be unsafe for pregnant women. In a laboratory experiment, the effects of ripe papaya blend (500 ml/l water) and papaya crude latex to the uteri of pregnant Sprague-Dawley rats was compared to a control group given with water only. Results have shown that ripe papaya has no adverse or noticeable side effects, while the crude latex induced spasmodic contraction of the uterine muscles. The study suggests that normal consumption of ripe papaya during pregnancy may not pose any significant danger. However, the unripe or semi-ripe papaya (which contains high concentration of the latex that produces marked uterine contractions) could be unsafe in pregnancy. (Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12144723)
In the Journal of Medicinal Food, March 2007, an article has been written about a study done on the effectiveness of dried Carica papaya seeds against human intestinal parasitosis. The study was done in the College of Health Sciences, Obafemi Awolowo University in Nigeria., where 60 children with evidence of intestinal parasites were given either dried seeds of Carica papaya mixed with honey or honey alone. 76.7% of those who were given honey mixed with dried seeds of papaya were cleared of parasites after 7 days while 16.7% of those who took honey alone. This study concludes that air-dried C. papaya seeds are efficacious in treating human intestinal parasites and without significant side effects. (Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17472487)
A study done in the Institute of Medical Science in The University of Tokyo, Japan, reported that aqueous solution of Carica papaya leaf extract have significant growth inhibitory activity on tumor cell lines. The study further suggests that Carica papaya leaf extract may potentially provide the means for the treatment and prevention of selected human diseases such as cancer, various allergic disorders, and may also serve as immunoadjuvant for vaccine therapy. (Source: Journal of Ethnopharmacology, February 2010: Aqueous extract of Carica papaya leaves exhibits anti-tumor activity and immunomodulatory effects)
The West Indian Medical Journal, December 2003, published an article on the antibacterial activity of Carica papaya fruit extract against common wound organisms . The study was done in The University of the West Indies, Kingston 7, Jamaica, where the seed extracts from the fruit showed inhibition of bacterial activity against B cereus, E coli, S faecalis, S aureus, P vulgaris and S flexneri. This study suggests that Carica papaya has antibacterial effects that could be useful in treating chronic skin ulcers to promote healing.
Carica Papaya tree can be found almost every where. You can check with your local horticulturist for seeds or small trees for personal cultivation. The papaya fruit is largely available in most fruit stands, grocery stores and supermarkets.
To buy ripe ready to eat Papaya, select those that are slightly soft, have no sunken dark spots, and have no cracks. Select Papayas that have a slight neck shape as these are better since they are probably tree ripened.
Papaya fruits, roots and leaves extracts and other herbal medicine preparations can also be fought from reputable health stores. Online, Amazon listed American Health Multi-Enzyme Plus, Super Papaya.
Papaya fruit. The fuit has a sweet and soft pulp that is best eaten when ripe or as mixed is salads. The young papaya fruit is also considered as vegetable used in cooking.
Papaya leaves. Fresh papaya leaves can be pounded or chewed and consumed by mouth. Maximum dosage is two tablespoon per day.
Papaya tea from roots, flowers and leaves. The papaya decoction or tea can be prepared by choping the roots, flowers and leaves then boiled in water (see below). Papaya tea decoction is taken twice to three times a day.
Papaya poultice. Fresh papaya leaves can be pounded and applied directly to the affected area.
Papaya seeds. Used as purgative, a spoonful of seeds is taken three times before meals.
Papaya latex. The latex from the young papaya fruit are applied directly to the affected area. Used to stop bleeding, treat wounds and avoid infections.
Dried leaves are more potent. Reduce the blend by half.
Generally safe in moderate consumption. Ripe papaya fruit does not have any serious side effects at moderate consumption even for pregnant mothers and young children.
May cause skin coloration. Ripe papaya just like carrots contains carotene which may turn the palms and soles yellowish when consumed at large amount but this does not impose any health danger.
Overdosage can be poisonous. The leaves and roots of Carica papaya contain cyangenic glucosides which form into cyanide, while the leaves contain tannins. These two compounds may have adverse side effects when taken at large concentrations.
Pregnancy and fertility side effects. In animal studies, aqueous extracts of Carica papaya can cause temporary infertility and irregular oestrous cycles that is reversible when treatment was stopped. Extracts of papain found in Carica papaya were also found to induce abortion after conception by dissolving the protein needed by the newly fertilized egg to adhere to the uterus wall. The abortificient property is a matter of high dose side effect of Carica papaya toxicity which affects the fetus.
Breast feeding. There are no sufficient studies made to determine the side effects of Carica Papaya taken in medicinal amounts to infants and babies. Stay on the safe side, avoid taking Papaya in herbal medicine dosage while breast feeding.
Allergies. In rare cases, the herb has caused allergic reaction as side effect.
Article last reviewed: 10.21.2016