Papaya, Pawpaw, Carica papaya, Herb

Carica papaya Caricaceae Also called Pawpaw.

Characterised by a taU, slender trunk crowned with a clump of leaves, the papaya tree grows in many tropical regions and can reach a height of 3-10m. The greenish male flowers are small and cluster under the leaves. The female flowers are bigger and grow singly or in groups ofátwo or three towards the top if the trunk. The fiuit, also called papaya, is a large berry, packed with orange flesh when ripe. It can have a diameter of 20-30cm and weigh as much as 5kg..

Parts used

  • Fruit sap
  • Sap is collected from the unripe fruits when they are still on the trees by means of tap-holes.
  • The sap, a white liquid or latex, has to be dried to preserve it and this is done outside in the sunshine
  • The dried sap isbrown and smells like meat extract.
  • Each fruit provides about 10g of fresh sap, which will produce up to 2g of raw dried papain in powder form. Papain is used for tablets, capsules and elixirs. It is also included in various pharmaceutical products


The sap contains a mixture of enzymes that are proteolytic (able to breakdown proteins). These include papain, chymopapain and papayaproteinases

Medicinal uses

Papain kills stomach parasites as well as having a calming, soothing effect on the digestive system. Its proteolytic enzymes help stomach acids to break down proteins.

The plant is used to treat stomach and pancreatic disorders, abdominal bloating and nausea caused by migraine attacks. It is also used to treat various intestinal parasites, such as threadworms, ascaris (roundworms) and ancylostoma, as well as various blood vessel problems, such as varicose veins, ulcers and haemorrhoids. Italian studies performed in 1996 demonstrated that the sap exerted antifungal activity against Candida albicans, the microbe that is responsible for thrush.

Used externally, papaya acts against water retained in the tissues and is beneficial in the treatment of oedema, abscesses and wounds. Clinical studies performed in 1969 found that papaya may possess anti-inflammatory properties that would benefit patients recovering from operations or injuries.

The flowers can also be used in an infusion, which will ease coughs and soothe the throat and vocal cords.


Papaya can be grown from seed, planted in moist, rich soil in spring. It needs plenty of warmth and sunshine and will not tolerate frost, so must be grown under glass in a temperate climate.


For internal use

TO TREAT digestive ailments TABLETS Take as directed on the label, as constituents vary according to brand.

For external use

TO TREAT wounds
RAW FRUIT OR JUICE Apply to the affected area, two to three times a day, for up to a week.


  • Papaya is not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women.
  • Papaya preparations may trigger allergies in susceptible individuals.
  • Prolonged use should be avoided.
  • Papainous injections may induce a fatal allergic reaction.



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