The medicinal parts are the leaves and fruits.
Flower and Fruit
The plant has varying yellow to yellowish-white flowers of both sexes. The male flowers form many-branched, hanging panicles with small flowers. The female flowers are almost sessile in the leaf axils on the trunk. In addition there are androgynous, fertile flowers. The yellow to yellow-green berry fruit is up to 30 cm long, 15 cm thick and weighs 2 to 5 kg. The fruit is clavate and lightly grooved. It contains numerous peppercorn-sized seeds surrounded by orange-yellow and melon-flavored flesh.
Leaves, Stem, and Root
Carica papaya is a 4 to 8 m high bushy tree with an unbranched fleshy-woody trunk that is hollow in the middle. The leaves are long-petioled, very large, and segmented into 5 to 7 palmate lobes, which terminate in sharp tips.
Indigenous to tropical America. Cultivated in all tropical regions today.
Papaya leaves consist of the fresh or dried leaves of Carica papaya harvested before the fruit appears. Raw papain is the latex from Carica papaya, which has been dried using various methods; where necessary the latex is decontaminated mechanically or by filtration.
Mamaeire, Melon Tree, Papaw
Actions & Pharmacology
Compounds: Papaya Leaves
Polyketide alkaloids: carpaine, pseudocarpaine
Cyanogenic glycosides (traces): including prunasin
Proteolytic ferments (ficin)
Effects: Papaya Leaves
No information is available.
Compounds: Raw Papain
Proteolytic enzymes (proteinases): papain, chymopapain A and B, proteinase A and B, papaya peptidase A
Other enzymes: lysozyme, chitotransferase, glycosidases, callase, pectinesterases, lipases, phosphatases, cycloligases
Effects: Raw Papain
The proteolytic activity of the raw papain enzymes can be used within the parameters of enzyme substitution for digestive complaints, particularly pancreatic conditions. Papain has an antimicrobial, anthelmintic, and anti-ulcerative effect. Papain is commonly used in industry as a meat tenderizer, a clearing agent in beer production, an enzymatic contact lens cleaner, and a pharmaceutical and immunochemical reagent (Blanco et al, 1998; Mansfield, 1995).
The results of the analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects are contradictory. Experiments have shown that papain has an edema-reducing effect. The fibrinogenous effect has not been sufficiently proved.
Wound-Healing Effects: The wound-healing effects of papaya are attributed to its proteolytic enzymes: papain, chymopapain, and leukopapain. The proteolytic action of papain is well known in its function as a meat tenderizer. Chymopapain is thought to be a desloughing agent that promotes growth and improves scar tissue. Carpaines and aglycones have also been isolated from papaya and demonstrate broad antimicrobial activity (Starley et al, 1999). In poor regions of Africa, pediatric full-thickness and infected burns have been successfully treated by applying mashed papaya fruit on gauze to the burn once to twice daily for several weeks. In some cases, this treatment has resulted in wounds clean enough for grafting and the wounds accepting the graft. When partial thickness burns were dressed with papaya, full-thickness wounds sometimes resulted. It is unclear if these wounds were misinterpreted at the outset or if the papaya dressing caused the worsening (Starley et al, 1999).
Scientific evidence for the use of papain for any indication is largely lacking. Anecdotal evidence for the successful use of papaya paste in the topical treatment of full-thickness and infected burns is available, as well as for the use of a polyenzyme preparation as an adjuvant in the treatment of cancer.
It remains unclear whether antioxidant supplementation is of potential therapeutic value, and how this may potentially vary in individuals with different genetic make-ups; there appears to be genetic susceptibility to oxidative stress for which antioxidants may prove useful. The antioxidant effect of a fermented Papaya preparation (FPP) was measured in a randomized, placebo-controlled, crossover study in which 54 elderly (mean age 72 years) but generally healthy individuals were divided into two groups and given either FPP or placebo. Three months of supplementation (FPP 9 g/day orally,1 hour after breakfast) were followed by a six-week washout period, followed by an additional three-month supplementation period. Based on monthly blood analyses, there was a significant enhancement of antioxidant protection (P<0.01 vs. A) and defense, even in those without clear antioxidant deficiency. The glutathione-S transferase MI genotype was also examined in terms of its reaction to the introduction of FPP (Marotta, 2006).
For two months, 25 subjects with type 2 diabetes and a control group that included 25 clinically healthy subjects received 3 g of a nutriceutical, Fermented Papaya Preparation. The researchers found that the papaya preparation induced a significant decrease in plasma sugar levels in both healthy subjects and those with type 2 diabetes. This hypoglycemic effect enabled patients with diabetes to reduce the dosage of their antidiabetic oral therapy and one patient to suspend his oral therapy altogether (Danese et al, 2006).
In a placebo-controlled study, the administration of a polyenzyme preparation (Wobenzyme®) resulted in increased production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and cytotoxicity in polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMN). Twenty-eight healthy volunteers received single oral doses of Wobenzyme in a dose ranging from 5 to 20 tablets; 8 volunteers received placebo. Upon measurement of PMN respiratory burst, a dose-dependent increase in ROS production was documented that was significant with the 10- and 20-tablet doses (p<0.05 and p<0.001, respectively). Peak ROS production occurred at 4 hours following tablet administration and was still documented at 6 hours. Wobenzyme contains per 100 mg: 33 mg panceatin, 830 Units (U) amylase, 790 U lipase, 75 U protease, 20 mg papain, 15 mg bromelain, 8 mg trypsin, 3.3 mg lipase, 3.3 mg amylase, and 0.3 mg chymotrypsin (Zavadova et al, 1995).
Indications & Usage
Papaya is used for gastrointestinal digestion complaints, inflammations and ulcers in the gastro-duodenal area, and pancreas excretion insufficiency.
Papaya leaf preparations are used singly or in combinations for prophylaxis and therapy of diseases and disorders of the gastrointestinal tract and for infections with intestinal parasites.
Worm infestation, damage to the urinary tract and stones, hemorrhoids, coughs, and bronchitis have been treated with Papaya leaves.
Not to be used during pregnancy. Because of the experimentally proven embryotoxic and teratogenic effects, as well as its known abortifacient effect in humans, unripe papain fruit should not be used during pregnancy.
Precautions & Adverse Reactions
Allergic reactions, including asthma attacks, are possible.
Concurrent use may result in increased risk of bleeding. Papaya extract was shown to increase the international normalized ratio (INR) levels when used in conjunction with warfarin (Shaw et al, 1997). Clinical Management: Avoid concomitant use. If taken together, the patient should be monitored closely for symptoms of bleeding and the INR should be closely monitored.
The dosage depends on the composition of the enzyme substitute preparation.
- Chewable Tablets
No information is available.