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Papaya (Carica papaya)

Synonyms/Common Names/Related Substances:

  • Almindelig papaja (Danish), arbre aux melon (French), arsenic, ascorbic acid, Baummelone (German), benzyl isothiocyanate, benzyl ITC, beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, beta-D-hexosaminidases, BITC, calcium, Caraica papaya carbohydrates, Carica papaya, Carica papaya bark, Carica papaya fruit, Carica papaya L., Carica papaya leaves, Carica papaya roots, Carica papaya seed extract, caricain, carotene, Cerica papaya, chamburé (Portuguese), chymodiactin, chymopapain, crude fiber, cryptoxanthin, dinnyefa (Hungarian), dudu (Vietnamese), exotic fruit, fan mu gua (Chinese), fermented papaya, fruits of papaya, galactose, glutaminyl cyclase, glycyl endopeptidase, green papaya, harilik papaia (Estonian), houng (Laotian), iron, kapaya (Tagalog), khaknuan papaya, lapaya (Tagalog), lechosa (Spanish), loko (Thai), lycopene, lysine, ma kuai thet (Thai), magnesium, majan (Kelabit), malako (Thai), malakor (Thai), mamão (Portuguese), mamoeiro (Portuguese), mamón (la fruta) (Spanish), Mangifera indica, meloenboom (Dutch), meloenboom sort (Dutch), melón zapote (Spanish), Melonenbaum (German), melonowiec własciwy (Polish), Melonträd (Swedish), melontræ (Danish), methionine, mewa (Nepali), mukua-wan-shou-kuo (Chinese), niacin, orange fruits, papago (French), papaia (Portuguese), papaija (Finnish), papain, papaiya (Japanese), papája (Hungarian), papaja (Polish, Slovene), papája melounová (Czech), papája obecná (Czech), Papajabaum (German), Papajapflanze (German), papaya cream, papaya cysteine proteinases, papaya-derived antioxidant, papaya fruit, papaya juice, papaya latex, papaya latex glutamine cyclotransferase, papaya milk, papaya proteinase IV, papaya proteinases, papaya QC enzymes, papaya salad, papaya seed extract, papaya shoot, papaya sort (Dutch), papaya sublimate, papaya trees, Papayabaum (German), papaye (French), papayer (French), papayero (Spanish), papayo (Spanish), papiitaa (Hindi, Urdu), pappali (Tamil), phosphoric acid, phosphorous, popoo (Japanese), provitamin A, pureed papaya, riboflavin, rungan (Russian), sa kui se (Thai), som tam pla ra (Thai), sound fruits, thiamine, thimbaw (Burmese), tropical fruits, tropical plant extracts, tryptophan, Uzbek papaya.
  • Combination product examples: Immun'Age® (fermented papaya, yeast, and dextrose), Bionormalizer® (biofermentation products of Carica papaya, Pennisetum purpureum, and Sechium edule), Wobenzym® (ingredients: pancreatin, bromelain, papain, lipase, amylase, trypsin, alpha chymotrypsin, and rutin) (1;2).
  • Note: This monograph is primarily concerned with the leaves, seeds, and fruit of the papaya tree. Papain, a proteolytic enzyme contained in papaya, is also discussed briefly when relevant; however, for a more in-depth review of papain, please refer to the papain monograph in the Natural Standard Herb & Supplements database.

Clinical Bottom Line/Effectiveness

Brief Background:

  • Papaya (Carica papaya) is a fruit bearing tree grown in a number of tropical regions, including Hawaii, Latin America, the West Indies, India, Indonesia, South Africa, Thailand, and the Philippines (3). Edible portions of the plant include the fruit and leaves, both of which contain variable amounts of carbohydrates, fiber, calcium, phosphorous, iron, carotene, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, ascorbic acid, tryptophan, methionine, lysine, lycopene, magnesium, phosphoric acid, vitamins, carotenoids, and proteolytic enzymes.
  • In addition to being a source of food, papaya also has been used as a folk remedy for wound and burn management, contraception, chronic ulcers, inducing abortions, and as a digestive aid (4;5;6). Furthermore, research has indicated that the papaya fruit, its constituent enzymes, and seed extracts may have other useful therapeutic properties such as antimicrobial, antihemolytic, antilipemic, antifungal, antiparasitic, contraceptive, hypoglycemic, and immunomodulatory effects (7;8;9;10;11;12;13;14;15;16;17;18;19;20;21). Papaya also has been shown to exert possible anticancer activity (22;23). In human studies, consumption of papaya has been associated with a reduced risk of colorectal, gastric, gall bladder, and prostate cancers (24;25;26;27).
  • The therapeutic effects of papaya are presumed to be due to its enzymatic, antimicrobial, and antioxidant properties (28;29;30;31;32). Papaya contains the proteolytic enzymes papain and chymopapain, which have been isolated and studied for their proteolytic effects on injured dermal tissue and for dissolving obstructed meat boluses (5;33).Despite a wealth of positive preliminary research, high quality human trials supporting the therapeutic use of papaya in any human indication remain lacking. Additional research is required before any recommendations can be made regarding papaya.

Dosing/Toxicology

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Precautions/Contraindications

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Interactions

Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.

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Mechanism of Action

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History

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Evidence Table

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Evidence Discussion

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Products Studied

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Author Information

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References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.