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Papaya – The Angels' Fruit

Papaya (Carica papaya; Caricaceae) supposedly called the "fruit of angels" by Christopher Columbus, tastes sweet with musky undertones and is also considered bitter with cooling to neutral energy.1 Native to Central America, papayas are produced commercially in Mexico, Puerto Rico, and the US. The fruit has a buttery consistency, with edible seeds that taste peppery and bitter. Papaya contains beta-carotene, calcium, magnesium, potassium, folate, pantothenic acid, and vitamins B, C, and E. Extremely high in vitamin C, the fruit also provides the protein-digesting enzyme, papain, an anti-cancer agent, also used for treating injuries and allergies. Papain can be used to treat asthma, hay fever, sports injuries, week lungs, and topically for warts. Papain powder has been used to alleviate the pain of bee stings and as a gum cleanser. Carpaine, also found in papaya, is an anti-tumor compound.1

A randomized, controlled clinical trial, conducted in Mauritius, found that supplementation of 6 g/day of fermented papaya preparation (FPP®; Osato International; Japan) for 14 weeks improved the health of several organs affected by oxidative stress of people with diabetes.2 An 8-month, randomized, open-labeled interventional study determined that a papaya dressing was more efficacious than a hydrogen peroxide dressing for patients with post-operative wound gape.3 The results from an open-label, randomized, controlled trial of papaya leaf juice suggest that it may increase platelet count in patients with Dengue fever.4

Papaya is said to improve skin, hair, nail, and eye health. The unripe fruit can be mashed to use as a facial mask.1 Traditionally, the fruit also has been used for dysentery, flatulence, rheumatism, ulcers, and heart disease. While the easiest way to eat papaya is by itself or with a dash of lime juice, it can also be made into salsa, served in fruit salad, or combined with berries and yogurt as a cold soup.1


1Mars B. Rawsome! Maximizing Health, Energy, and Culinary Delight with the Raw Foods Diet. North Bergen, NJ: Basic Health Publications, Inc.; 2004.

2Somanah J, Aruoma OI, Gunness TK, et al. Effects of a short term supplementation of a fermented papaya preparation on biomarkers of diabetes mellitus in a randomized Mauritian population. Prev Med. 2012;54:S90-s97.

3Murthy MB, Murthy BK, Bhave S. Comparison of safety and efficacy of papaya dressing with hydrogen peroxide solution on wound bed preparation in patients with wound gape. Indian J Pharmacol. 2012;44(6):784-787.

4Subenthiran S, Choon TC, Cheong KC, et al. Carica papaya leaves juice significantly accelerates the rate of increase in platelet count among patients with Dengue fever and Dengue haemorrhagic fever. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. April 11, 2013;2013:616737. doi:10.1155/2013/616737.

Lori Glenn,  Managing Editor