Papaya Leaf contains a remarkable protein-dissolving enzyme called papain, and if you suffer from indigestion or heartburn, gives Papaya Leaf a try! The enzyme in Papaya Leaf also breaks down wheat gluten and carbohydrates for extra digestive protection.
Papaya Leaf is an herbaceous tree with a stem of spongy, soft wood that is hollow in the center and bears melon-like fruit. It is an interesting tree, in that the male and female parts exist in different trees, and trees may grow to a height of twenty to thirty feet. The Papaya Tree needs a tropical climate that is dry when cold and wet when warm; consequently, its greatest success appears in the equatorial zone with its warm wet season and cool dry season.
It is extremely sensitive to frost, and water-logging will kill the taproot within forty-eight hours. The Papaya is especially susceptible to parasites, pests and diseases. This fussy plant needs a lot of water but must have good drainage, and it bears most fruit in light, porous, slightly acidic soils that are rich in organic matter. Said to be a native of the Caribbean and Central America, the Papaya is the true papaw that now grows abundantly throughout tropical America, Hawaii and many other tropical climates throughout the world.
Although grown to some extent in south Florida, the true papaw is not related to the North American papaw. The fruits, leaves and latex are all used medicinally. The fruit is usually pear-sized and has a central cavity filled with edible, pea-sized seed, which are said to have a similar flavor as capers. Papaya Leaves are cooked and considered a green vegetable and are a rich source of gummy, milky, white latex that contains the powerful enzyme, papain. This protein-dissolving substance is an excellent remedy for stomach and digestive disorders.
Papain is so powerful that Papaya Leaves have been wrapped around meats to break down the fibers and tenderize them. It is included in commercial preparations as a meat tenderizer and often used for that purpose in restaurants, and it also used commercially in chewing gums and as a stabilizing agent that is used to clarify beer. Papaya Leaves were even fed to animals to tenderize their flesh. Some of Papaya Leaf's constituents include the fermenting agent myrosin, alkaloids, rutin, resin, tannins, carpaine, dehydrocarpaines, pseudocarpaine, flavonols, benzylglucosinolate, linalool, malic acid, methyl salicylate, another enzyme, chymopapain (latex and exudate), calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, beta-carotene, B-vitamins and vitamins A, C and E.
Papaya Leaf is an excellent treatment for digestive disorders and extremely useful for any disturbances of the gastrointestinal tract. Papain, the powerful enzyme in Papaya, helps to dissolve and digest protein, thus easing stomach ailments and indigestion. (Because papain breaks down tough meat fibers, it is often used in restaurants and is the major ingredient in commercial meat tenderizers!) Papaya has been effective in easing heartburn and is given to treat dyspepsia and gastric catarrh. Papaya also stimulates the appetite.
Papaya Leaf's enzyme, papain, not only digests protein, but it extends its activity to digesting carbohydrate. Papain also breaks down wheat gluten, which may be helpful for those suffering from Celiac disease; and those who have difficulty digesting starchy foods, such as breads, cereals and potatoes, might find great relief in including Papaya in their diets.
The papain in Papaya is thought to relieve acute prostate inflammation and may be very helpful in cases of benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH). Clinical studies in Russia found that papain treatment reversed rectal lesions induced by extreme prostate enlargement in over 97 percent of the men treated.
The papain in Papaya is currently undergoing studies to investigate its efficacy in treating the herpes simplex virus and herpes zoster (shingles).
Another papayan enzyme, chymopapain, has been used in the treatment of slipped spinal disc and pinched nerves.
Since many stomach problems are the direct result of indigestion, use of Papaya appears to help prevent many ailments. It stimulates digestive acids and the production of bile, which may also lead to a healthier liver and pancreas.
Papaya is said to stimulate the bowels in times of constipation and is also believed to be useful in treating inflammatory bowel disorders.
In many areas of the world, Papaya is used as a vermifuge, anthelmintic and amoebacide that eliminates worms and other parasites, and it is thought that the papain content digests the invaders, and Papaya's latex also works as a dewormer by its purgative actions, increasing the movement of intestinal contents.