The Medicinal Herb Info site was created to help educate visitors about the often forgotten wisdom of the old ways of treating illnesses. Many of today's drugs and medicines were originally derived from natural ingredients, combinations of plants and other items found in nature.

We are not suggesting that you ignore the help of trained medical professionals, simply that you have additional options available for treating illnesses. Often the most effective treatment involves a responsible blend of both modern and traditional treatments.

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Papaya

Scientific Names

Papaya

  • Carica papaya L.
  • Papaya family

Common Names

  • Custard apple
  • Melon tree
  • Mu-kua (Chinese name)
  • Papaw
  • Pawpaw
  • Shu-kua (Chinese name)

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Parts Usually Used

Fruit, leaves
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Papaya

Description of Plant(s) and Culture

The papaya tree grows to a height of up to 25 feet; the palmlike trunks have soft wood and sometimes divide into several erect stems, each with a head of large, palmately lobed leaves that are near orbicular in outline. The lobes themselves are pinnately lobed. The hollow petioles are 2 feet long or more. Male and female flowers are usually on separate trees; slender racemes on funnel-shaped, yellow male flowers become up to 3 feet long; the female flowers have 5 yellow, twisted petals and grow singly or in sparse corymbs. The fruit is a large, oblong or nearly spherical, fleshy berry with a yellow or orange rind like a gourd. It may be from 3 to 20 inches long and weigh up to 12 lb. or more. The ripe yellow fruits hang more towards the bottom of the tree; further up they are still green and unripe. They look like melons, are hollow inside and full of small, black, moist, round seeds.
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Where Found

Found in tropical America. Introduced and now cultivated in southern China and other tropical parts of the Far East.
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Medicinal Properties

Digestive, stomachic, vermifuge, vulnerary
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Biochemical Information

Papain, other enzymes, vitamins, minerals
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Legends, Myths and Stories

Papaya is called paw-paw but the real common paw-paw (Asimina triloba L.) has smaller fruit and tastes and texture something like bananas. It is a small tree or shrub; 9-30 feet tall, flowers are dull-purple, drooping; petals are curved backwards. Seeds are toxic. Leaves may cause rash.

The fruit aids in digestion, so make it a habit to eat a slice after meals if you are visiting the tropics. Or break off and eat a leaf, even if it is only as big as a large coin. The leaves are reputed to protect against tropical parasites.

Papaya was a 16th century remedy for indigestion and constipation. It is, today, still one of the best.

Centuries ago, natives of the tropics found they could eat exceptionally heavy meals of fish and meat without any apparent stomach distress if the meal was followed by a dessert of papaya. Modern research has shown that this tropical melon-like fruit contains a powerful protein-digesting enzyme called papain, which greatly resembles pepsin, the natural digestive enzyme found in the stomach. Papain extracted from the unripe papaya melon is so powerful that 5 grains of the white crystalline powder are said to digest a pint of milk in half an hour. The natural papain enzyme is made into tablets and sold as an aid to digestion. The tablet acts on acid, alkaline, or neutral conditions without being destroyed by intestinal juices. It is considered especially valuable as an aid to normal digestion of protein in the stomach.

If you can’t get through the day without taking an antacid or two, this is the herb for you. Papaya is a safe and natural digestive aid; digests protein in the body. Take too many antacids and you run the risk of a rebound effect, that is the body produces even more acid, resulting in even more gastrointestinal problems. Papaya juice and/or tablets can be taken freely without fear of rebounding. The fruit is popular in Hawaii and is very delicious.

The Chinese appreciate the papaya as a meat tenderizer as well as a medicinal. The Chinese name Mu-kua means “melon tree.”
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Uses

Best known for its aid to digestion, due to its content of papain, an enzyme similar to pepsin, which is produced by the gastric juices of the stomach. This protein-digesting enzyme makes papaya helpful for dyspepsia and other digestive difficulties. Either the fresh milky juice of the unripe fruit or the brownish powder to which it dries can be used; it stimulates the pancreas and aids in digesting fat and protein. This juice has also been used to remove freckles, and internally it acts as an effective vermifuge. The leaves are sometimes used to dress festering wounds. Improper protein breakdown in the system often leads to allergies. Papaya is effective in relieving allergies by its ability to denaturize proteins. A fresh, mashed papaya applied as a face mask will remove dead, flaky skin. Take 1 tablet 4 times a day to help with hemorrhoids, usually cures within a week.
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Formulas or Dosages

Juice: take 1 tsp. to 1 tbsp. as needed.

Tablets: take up to 1 tablet 3 times daily to relieve symptoms.
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Nutrient Content

An abundance of vitamins and minerals, provides enzymes (resemble pepsin in digestive action)

Papaya nutrients

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How Sold

  • Tablets (chewable)
  • Dried papaya slices
  • Frozen papaya
  • Papaya juice
  • Papaya tea bags

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Resource Links

LiveStrong.com: Papaya Enzymes for an Upset Stomach

LiveStrong.com: Benefit of Papaya Enzyme

Live Strong.com: Papain for Indigestion

LiveStrong.com: Papaya & Heartburn

PubMed.gov: Carica papaya (Paw-Paw) unripe fruit may be beneficial in ulcer.

WHFoods.com: Papaya

HealthSquare.com: Papaya Enzyme Oral

Drugs.com: Papaya

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Bibliography

Buy It! Eastern/Central Medicinal Plants, by Steven Foster and James A. Duke., Houghton Mifflin Company, 215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10000

Buy It! The Herbalist Almanac, by Clarence Meyer, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, copyright 1988, fifth printing, 1994

Buy It! Secrets of the Chinese Herbalists, by Richard Lucas, Parker Publishing Company, Inc., West Nyack, NY, 1987.

Buy It! Earl Mindell’s Herb Bible, by Earl Mindell, R.Ph., Ph.D., Simon & Schuster/Fireside, Rockefeller Center 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, New York 10020

Buy It! Chinese Medicinal Herbs, compiled by Shih-Chen Li, Georgetown Press, San Francisco, California, 1973.

Buy It! The Herb Book, by John Lust, Bantam Books, 666 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY. copyright 1974.

Buy It! The Magic of Herbs in Daily Living, by Richard Lucas, Parker Publishing Co. (1988).

Buy It! The Nature Doctor: A Manual of Traditional and Complementary Medicine, by Dr. H.C.A. Vogel; Keats Publishing, Inc., 27 Pine Street (Box 876) New Canaan, CT. 06840-0876. Copyright Verlag A. Vogel, Teufen (AR) Switzerland 1952, 1991

Buy It! Planetary Herbology, by Michael Tierra, C.A., N.D., O.M.D., Lotus Press, PO Box 325, Twin Lakes. WI 53181., Copyright 1988, published 1992

Buy It! Webster’s New World Dictionary, Third College Edition, Victoria Neufeldt, Editor in Chief, New World Dictionaries: A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., 15 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10023

Buy It! The Rodale Herb Book: How to Use, Grow, and Buy Nature’s Miracle Plants (An Organic gardening and farming book), edited by William H. Hylton, Rodale Press, Inc. Emmaus, PA, 18049., 1974

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