Carica papaya L.; Caricaceae

Other Names: Papaya, Papaw or Paw Paw (Australia), Mamao (Brazil), Tree Melon, Melon Tree, Mamaeire

The papaya is believed to be native to southern Mexico and neighboring Central America. It is now present in every tropical and subtropical country.

Deliciously sweet with musky undertones and a soft, butter-like consistency, the papaya was reputably called the “fruit of the angels” by Christopher Columbus. Once considered quite exotic, papaya fruit can now be found in markets all year.

There are two types of papaya fruit, Hawaiian and Mexican. The Hawaiian varieties are the papayas commonly found in supermarkets.

Papaya as an Herb for Medicinal Uses

The medicinal parts are the leaves and fruits.

Papaya provides us with many benefits: It aids in the breakdown and metabolism of protein, exhibits anti-ulcer activity and helps to relieve indigestion.

If you take too many antacids, you run the risk of the “rebound effect,” that is, your body will respond by producing even more acid, which will cause even more gastrointestinal problems. Papaya, however, can be taken freely without any fear of rebounding.

Papaya leaf tea is said to offer protection against internal parasites and is drunk daily when traveling in foreign climes.

Papaya juice has also been used to remove freckles, and internally it acts as an effective vermifuge – serving to expel worms or other animal parasites from the intestines, as a medicine.

Papaya leaves are sometimes used to dress festering wounds. The leaves are used as a substitute for soap.

Indian medicine: Worm infestation, damage to the urinary tract and stones, hemorrhoids, coughs and bronchitis have been treated with Papaya leaves.

Typical Preparations: Infusions or teas, taken in small doses. For convenience it may be taken as a capsule or extract.

Culinary Uses of Papaya

In the tropics around the world papaya is the breakfast fruit, served either green or ripe. The juice is a popular beverage, and the leaves and young stems are steamed and served as a vegetable.

The ripe papaya is best eaten fresh, and can be combined with salads or ice cream. The green papaya is cooked as curry, and also makes a tasty salad.

Since it helps to digest protein, raw/unripe papaya is often used to tenderize meat.


No health hazards or side effects are known in conjunction with the proper administration of designated therapeutic dosages.

People who take blood medication (Sulfinpyrazone) or blood thinning medication (Coumadin, aspirin, etc.) should consult with their physicians before taking this herb, as it may have anticoagulant properties. Pregnant women should avoid Papaya, as it can be a uterine stimulant (papain apparently dissolves a protein(s) responsible for adhering the newly fertilized egg to the wall of the uterus). Papaya in all its forms should never be taken by people with a latex allergy (causing anaphylactic shock). Inhaling Papaya powder (high in the enzymes, papain and chymopapain, can induce allergies.

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