Papaya, also known as papaw or pawpaw, is a tropical plant in the genus Carica that is originated in the tropics of America. The plant can grow up to 10 m tall, with large, lobed leaves and a large berry-shaped fruit. The tree is widely cultivated in tropical countries, mostly for its fruit that can be eaten both unripe and ripe. The versatile fruit can be served in a lot of forms, including juice, salad, and ingredients for a lot of cuisines. However, according to the book “Papaya the Medicine Tree,” the flesh is not the only part of the plant that is beneficial for a human. In fact, the entire papaya tree can be consumed for many medicinal and nutritional values. These include the fruits, seeds, roots, and even the leaves.
In many parts of the world, the leaf of papaya is a common ingredient in cooking. The leaves are generally eaten as a type of vegetable, combined with a wide range of other ingredients and spices. Papaya leaves can also be consumed as a tea or even juice. All of those methods of consumption bring a number of potent medicinal effects due to the nutritional content of papaya leaves.
A papaya leaf contains a great deal of important nutrients, such as protein, vitamin A, vitamin C , vitamin B, vitamin D, and vitamin E. It also contains minerals like magnesium, iron, sodium magnesium, calcium, as well as other micronutrients like karpain, tannins, flavonoids, folate, and beta-carotene.
The rich and varied constituents make the leaf a powerful remedy for many diseases. It’s not surprising that many herbal enthusiasts advocate drinking papaya leaf tea to improve wellness. Here are 15 health benefits of consuming papaya leaves you should know.
1. Prevents and Treats Cancer
Papaya leaf tea is a popular herbal remedy for cancer. People have been using the tea for a long time because of its ability to reduce the risk of cancer as well as aid the treatment of the disease. In February 2010, a study published in the “Journal of Ethnopharmacology” discussed the effectiveness of papaya leaves in inhibiting the development of cancer.
The research studied some tissue culture that was affected by cancerous cells. Papaya leaf tea was used to treat cancer and progress were observed throughout the study. It was apparent that papaya leaf tea plays an important role in treating cancer by reducing the inflammation, activating immunity system that fights the cancerous cells, preventing the tumor cells from glowing, regulating the T-cells, and stimulating the genes that trigger the immunity system.
The extract is effective at fighting many types of tumors including lung cancer, liver cancer, cervix cancer, and pancreatic cancer. The result of this study indicates that the anti-cancer properties in papaya leaves may be able to aid the treatment and prevention of the dangerous disease.
2. Treats Ulcer
Papaya leaf tea’s ability to protect the body against gastric ulcers was also researched in a laboratory setting by some scientists. Using some animals as test subjects, the scientists experimented on ulcer treatment using papaya leaf extract and recorded the result. The report of the study was published in “West Indian Medical Journal” in its September 2008 issue. The researchers conducted an experiment on two groups of rats. One group was treated with the extract papaya leaves and the other group was not. The group that was treated with papaya leaf extract experienced less oxidative stress and ulcer formation.
On the report, the scientists wrote that the extract of papaya leaves was able to reduce the severity of ulcer due to its powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities. Consuming papaya leaves will activate glutathione peroxidase, a very vital antioxidant that stabilizes free radicals. The extract improved the antioxidant processes in the red blood cells and reduced the level of oxidized lipids. Based on this study, the authors suggested that papaya leaf tea might be an effective remedy for illnesses caused oxidative stress that occurs in the stomach area including gastric ulcers.
3. Aids Gluten Digestion
Some people have difficulties at digesting wheat protein gluten. For these people, the consumption of gluten triggers an autoimmune condition that is usually called celiac disease. If you suffer from celiac disease, your immune system would be triggered by eating gluten. As a result, you would probably experience bloating, diarrhea, weight loss, and anemia. According to the book “The Complete Herbal Guide: A Natural Approach to Healing the Body,” the ability of papain enzyme to digest protein might be useful for people with gluten-digestion difficulty. It means that eating papaya leaves or drinking papaya leaf tea or juice will be able to improve your tolerance to gluten. However, the scientists are still conducting more studies in this area, so it’s suggested to not use this method as the sole treatment for celiac disease.
4. Cures Dengue Fever
People in many tropical countries are at risk from dengue fever from time to time. Dengue fever is a highly contagious and potentially fatal disease which is caused by dengue virus that is transmitted via the bites of Aedes mosquito. The disease is usually characterized by noticeable but potentially misleading symptoms such as a headache and high fever, itchy red rashes on the body, and severe rashes and joint pain. The platelet count in the body will drop and may potentially lead to fatality when not treated properly.
So far, the treatment of the disease has only been to improve the platelet count. There is no pharmaceutical medicine which is able to magically cure dengue fever. Doctors will usually also prescribe painkillers like ibuprofen and aspirin to reduce the symptoms experienced by the patients. However, these medicines have their unwanted side effects, too. On the other hand, the tradition of folks’ remedy offers an alternative treatment by using the extract of papaya leaf. It has been used in many societies to treat dengue fever without any unwanted negative effects.
Scientists have tried to research whether or not papaya leaves are actually effective in combating the fever and what active ingredients in the leaf that gives this result. Several case studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of papaya leaf-based treatment. The positive effect is mostly due to the enzymes chymopapain and papain that are present in the leaves. These enzymes boost thrombocytes or platelets and alleviate the symptoms of the fever.
Today, there are many pharmaceutical companies that take benefits of the extract of papaya leaf in their liquid and capsules medicines. However, you can have a do-it-yourself treatment by drinking papaya leaf tea or juice.
5. Fights Malaria
Besides treating and alleviating the symptoms of dengue fever, papaya leaves are also effective at treating another mosquito-transferred disease, malaria. In some parts of the world, malaria is a threatening disease that can result in detrimental effects, including deaths. Malaria is caused by the Plasmodium parasite that is transmitted to the blood by Anopheles mosquito. Papaya leaves contain karpain, a compound with powerful antimicrobial, antiparasitic, and antibacterial properties. Karpain helps the body to fight the parasite Plasmodium while the vitamins in papaya leaves strengthen the body immune system and speed up the recovery. The antioxidants that fight inflammation also reduce the damage caused by the Plasmodium parasite.
6. Protects from Common Cold
The karpain in papaya leaves has antiviral properties which make it one of the best active ingredients that fight the common cold and other viral diseases. Besides, papaya leaf extract also offers a natural way to improve platelets and regenerating white blood cells. White blood cells are responsible for protecting your body against foreign invaders and infectious diseases. Your immunity heavily depends on the white blood cells count.
In addition, papaya leaves extract also has other ingredients that can strengthen’s body immune system and accelerates recovery, such as vitamin A and C. Vitamin C boosts your immunity and Vitamin A aids the fight against the virus by stimulating the antibodies in the blood. As a result, your body will have a better defense against contagious diseases.
7. Promotes Healthier Skin
Crushed papaya leaves can also be used as a homemade mask that can boost skin’s health and hygiene. The extract of papaya leaves contains karpain, a compound that can inhibit the growth and activities of microorganisms and other toxic agents. Thus, it provides a solution to pimples, acne, and many other skin problems. You will then have a clearer and healthier skin that is free from major skin problems.
Moreover, the vitamins in papaya leaves, including vitamin C, E, and A are all very healthy to your skin. Papaya leaves won’t only cleanse your skin but also make it more youthful and brighter.
8. Fights Aging
Papaya leaf contains a large amount of vitamin C and vitamin A. The concentration of both vitamins in the leaves is even larger than what is found in the fruit. Vitamin C is one of the most potent antioxidants that can effectively fight free radicals, unstable molecules that cause inflammation and damage to your body organs. Free radicals accelerate aging, causing chronic illnesses as well as degenerative diseases. It also manifests in your physical appearances, such as wrinkles, fine lines, and age spots or other forms of pigmentation.
The vitamins will inhibit aging at cellular level. As a result, you will feel and look younger for a longer time. The antioxidants will protect the elasticity of your skin, accelerate the rejuvenation, and shield your skin from the harmful ultraviolet rays that can make you look older before your time.
Papaya leaves also contain around 50 amino acids including histidine, glycine, glutamate acid, valine, leucine, and others. These amino acids are commonly found in commercial products. It is because these acids have anti-aging properties that can promote healthy skin. Applying papaya leaves topically on the skin will boost your overall appearance and is cheaper and less risky than the commercially produced formula.
9. Cures Eczema
The health benefits of papaya leaves for your skin extends beyond solving acne and gives you brighter skin. It can even treat annoying skin inflammation, such as eczema. Eczema is a type of inflammation which is characterized by itchy crusting patches on the skin. The anti-inflammatory properties of papaya leaves will help you alleviate this skin problem. Besides, the vitamins in the leaf, such as vitamin E and vitamin C, will promote smoothness of the skin and a speedy recovery from the skin disease.
10. Promotes Healthy Hair
Because of the abundance of minerals, vitamins, and enzymes, the extract of papaya leaves is often used for hair treatment. Traditionally, many people would boil the leaves and use the water to wash their hair to solve a number of hair issues. These days, there are also companies and hair salons that use the extract of papaya leaves in their products like conditioners, hair maks, and shampoos.
Papaya leaves promote hair growth by strengthening the hair shaft to prevent hair loss and by nourishing the hair. It wards off many hair problems including thinning, balding, dullness, and breakage. Papaya leaves can be combined with other healthy ingredients like honey and milk to manage unruly hair and treats dullness. This DIY hair mask will restore the life to your hair and make it shiny and smooth.
11. Treats Dandruff
The antifungal and antimicrobial properties of papaya leaves also make it an effective ingredient to treat dandruff. It makes the hair free from dirt, oil, chemical buildup and dust that can contribute to dandruff. Besides, it also nourishes and moisturizes the scalp which in the end controls flakes. Dryness is often the reason why there are flakes in your scalp. A papaya leaf is very rich in nutrients that will boost the health of your scalp. More importantly, giving your hair anti-dandruff treatment with papaya leaf juice or concoction won’t cause any damaging or dangerous side effects, problems that are common in chemical-based industrially-manufactured antidandruff formulations.
12. Treats Emphysema
Emphysema is a fatal disease that is categorized as one of the Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or COPD. This disease is mostly characterized by the shortness of breath. Emphysema is basically the gradual loss of function of the lung tissue, including the damage of the alveoli. When the alveoli don’t function properly anymore, you will have difficulties in conducting respiratory activities.
Emphysema is a very dangerous disease, therefore it’s better to protect yourself by preventing the disease from attacking you. To prevent it, you need to consume enough amount of vitamin D. Fortunately, you can improve your vitamin D intake by consuming papaya leaves as vegetable, tea, or juice.
13. Detoxifies Your Body
Every day, toxic materials and microorganisms enter your body, either through oral consumption or environmental exposure. Harmful bacteria and parasites, as well as dangerous chemical toxins that go into your system from food intake and pollution, can bring detrimental effects to your health. Because of this, you need to regularly cleanse your body from these toxins. Fortunately, consuming papaya leaves can be an effective body detox program. You will be able to get rid of the toxins from your system. As a result, you will feel healthier and be keep away from problems like pimples and dullness on the skin.
14. Stabilizes Blood Sugar
Diabetes melitus is a common and threatening disease in which the person has an unusually high blood sugar level. This happens either because of the inability of the body to produce insulin or to respond properly to insulin. People with diabetes will often experience excessive hunger, thirst, and frequency of urination. It is a long-term condition that requires a permanent lifestyle shift in order to alleviate the symptoms.
Consuming papaya leaves can be an effective treatment for diabetes as it has the ability to stimulate the activity of insulin in your body. In addition, the antioxidants present in papaya leaves may also reduce the oxidative stress that triggers diabetes. As a result, your blood sugar levels will be more regulated. You will be less likely to suffer from diabetes. If you are diabetic already, the harms will be greatly suppressed. Papaya leaves can also reduce the possibilities of diabetes-related complications, including kidney damage.
15. Inhibits The Activities of Intestinal Bacteria
There are good and bad bacteria in your gut that create a balanced and healthy environment for your body. Sometimes, the balance of the ecosystem is disrupted and this is when you get gut-related illnesses. Fortunately, you can prevent the growth of bad bacteria in your intestines by consuming papaya leaves. The leaves are often used to treat numerous gastrointestinal disorders. According to studies, there are around 50 active ingredients in the leaves that can fight off bad bacteria. The karpain, for example, is a very important compound that can inhibit the growth of dangerous gut and intestinal bacteria. Eating papaya leaves or drinking papaya leaf tea will certainly do good things to your overall gut health.