Papaya (pawpaw) – Properties and medicinal uses

Papaya, also called pawpaw, is a fruit of ‘Carica papaya’ L., a herb like tree which reaches 3-6 meters in height and from the botanical family Caricaceae. The fruit is enclosed by a greenish-yellow rind. This rind, encloses an orange or yellow pulp and its center is filled with sour black seeds.

Properties of Papaya

* The papaya contains alot of water, about 88.8% which is almost as much as melon (92%). This richness in water is the main reason why it is sometimes called “tropical melon”.
* It contains about 8% of carbohydrates, which are mostly formed from sugars: fructose, glucose, and saccharose.
* Contains 0.61% of proteins
* A little fat content of 0.14%
* It contains vitamin C, A and small amouts of vitamin B. A 100g pulp of papaya provides 18% and 103% of vitamin A and B respectively of their Recommended dietary allowance for an adult.
* Minerals in papaya includes:
– potassium, which is present in large amounts.
– significant amounts of phosphorus, calcium, magnesium and iron.
* soluble vegetable fiber, pectin, which makes about 1.8%
* Papaya also contains a proteolytic enzyme called “PAPAIN”, which digests protein. The main source of this “papain” is the unripe fruit of papaya or its leaves.

Medicinal uses of Papaya

Papaya, due to its easy digestibility, and its high mineral and vitamin contents, paves way for the following therapeutic indications:

Stomach disorders
Papaya is highly recommended in cases of
* difficult digestion
* gastritis, and
* gastricptosis (gastric prolapse).
It is also highly recommended in cases whereby digestion is affected by inflammation of the gastric mucosa.
* Papaya helps neutralize excess gastric acid.
Papaya is also beneficial in cases of
* heartburn (pyrosis)
* gastroduodenal ulcer and
* hiatal hernia.

Skin disorders
Papaya, due to its richness in provitamin A, is highly recommended in cases of skin disorder such as
* Eczema
* Acne and
* Furunculosis.

Intestinal disorders
The soothing and antiseptic (able to prevent infection) effect of papaya on the digestive mucosa, makes it very useful in cases of infectious diarrhea or colitis, be it
* infectious
* spastic or
* ulcerous.

Biliary dyspepsia
Due to its low fat content and its digestive effect, it is found use in cases of biliary dysepsia, and even PANCREATITIS.

Intestinal parasites
Papaya, helps in eradicating intestinal parasites, especially tapeworm (tenia).

By Abbati

Abbati studied Biological sciences at Ahmadu Bello Univeristy, Zaria. He loves learning about the medicinal properties of foods, and the need to explore them!