The health benefits and uses of papaya leaves
Papaya Fruits are well known for their delicious flavour and healthy properties, but did you know that the leaves of the tree also have some amazing health benefits? Papaya Leaves are very large and have been used as a natural medicine since the Ancient Mayan era.
In this article, we will explore 19 facts and benefits of papaya leaves, and explain how to use these at home.
1. Dengue Fever: Many people in Asia use papaya leaf juice as a natural medicine for dengue fever. Dengue is one of the leading causes of illness and death in this region and is caused by a virus spread through mosquitos. Juice can be squeezed out of papaya leaves and used to reduce dengue fever symptoms including muscle pains, rashes, high temperature, and low blood platelets. The leaves contain a natural compound called carpaine which increases blood platelet count and reduces internal bleeding.
2. Fights Cancer: Studies show that papaya leaf tea made from dried papaya leaves can help to fight different types of cancer including cervix, breast, liver, lung and pancreatic cancers. The phytochemicals found inside the leaves prevent the growth and spreading of cancerous tumours, by activating cells in the immune system called Th1-type cytokines (also known as T-cells.) For this reason, papaya leaves are used as a natural form of chemotherapy in herbal medicine, without the harmful side effects.
3. Digestion: Papaya leaf tea is taken before meals as a dietary supplement to enhance the digestion of protein. It contains papain and chymopapain which are natural enzymes that help the stomach to break down meat, fish, and plant proteins. This can reduce problems like heartburn, indigestion and acid reflux. It also contains amylase and protease enzymes which can reduce inflammation in the stomach, cleanse the colon and help to stomach break down minerals, proteins and carbohydrates.
4. Food Allergies: Consuming papaya leaf tea can help the body to break down wheat gluten and gluten found in flour-based foods. Gluten is particularly high in foods like bread, cakes, biscuits and pastries. Papaya leaf makes these foods easier to digest and reduces the risk of celiac disease and gluten sensitivity.
5. Menstrual Problems: Papaya leaf juice or tea is very helpful for women who suffer from menstrual pain such as PMS, post menstrual syndrome or heavy periods. The natural properties of the leaves help to increase blood flow to the uterus and acts as a natural pain killer. It is also used to help balance estrogen hormones and ovulation cycles in females.
6. Hair Growth: If you suffer from slow hair growth then papaya leaf juice can help. It contains many natural phytochemicals which can help boost the growth of hair. It is often added to natural shampoos and conditions as it reduces hair breakage, thinning of the hair, dandruff, itchy scalp and kills fungus. Alkaloids in the liquid can help to remove dirt and excess oil from the scalp.
7. H-Pylori: Over 50 per cent of people are infected with a bacteria helicobacter pylori. This bacteria causes damage to the stomach lining and can cause gastritis, peptic ulcers and gastric cancer. Drinking papaya leaf tea kills the H-Pylori bacteria and also reduces inflammation in the stomach and colon naturally.
8. Eliminates Parasites: Drinking pawpaw tea or papaya leaf tea helps to eliminate intestinal worms and expel them from the body. It contains over 50 active compounds that fight infections and protects the body against reinfection. It also makes it difficult for the worms to attach to the intestines. These active constituents are also helpful for fighting malaria, a type of plasmodium parasite which comes from female mosquito bites.
9. Skin Problems: Papaya leaf extracts have been shown to improve the health and appearance of the skin. They are rich in Vitamin C and Beta Carotene which can destroy harmful free radicals in the body to protect against rapid ageing. Carpaine in the leaves prevents skin infections by suppressing the activity of microbes. This effectively helps those with acne, pimples, dermatitis, eczema and other skin conditions.
10. Skin Whitening: The juice can be watered down and gently applied to the skin using a cotton swab, for those who wish to whiten the skin, in areas of excessive tan. This can help the body to absorb more vitamin D from the sun and supports a healthier immune system.
11. Fights Bacteria: Bitter leaves and herbs like papaya leaves are excellent for strengthening the immune system and white blood cell count. The nutrients within help to fortify the body against harmful invaders and microbes in the body such as Typhoid and TB.
12. Fights Diabetes: Studies show that these leaves can help to naturally reduce blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. The active compounds within enhance insulin and glucose sensitivity in billions of cells throughout the body. The rich antioxidants in the leaves also reduce the damage caused by diabetes to the internal organs and nervous system.
13. Tenderize Meat Beef Papaya leaf juice can be used as a marinade for meat to tenderize it, making it softer and easier to eat. The natural enzymes help to soften the protein-making for a delicious and enjoyable meal.
14. Origins: The papaya, also known as pawpaw is a small tree which grows in warm climates including Mexico, Central and South America. It also grows in many other tropical locations including Indonesia, The Philippines, Australia, Tanzania, Dominican Republic and Jamaica.
15. How to make Papaya Leaf Tea for health benefits: The most common way to use papaya leaves is by steeping them in warm water to make a herbal tea. Harvest medium-sized leaves from the tree and wash them thoroughly to remove any dirt or particles. Slice these thinly and simmer in a pot of hot water. Allow the mixture to reduce by half by simmering gently, strain and then store in a glass container. This is best when used fresh, however, it can be stored in the refrigerator for 2-3 days maximum.
16. Papaya Leaf Juice for health benefits: The alternative method is to grind and muddle the leaves in a pestle and mortar to extract their raw juice. You can squeeze this through a fine cloth to release all of this healing liquid and is stronger and more effective than the tea. This must be watered down before use. Both the tea and the juice can be blended with tasty exotic fruits to enhance the flavour.
17. Papaya Leaf Food: The young leaves are also used in delicious stir-fries in some parts of the world. These are very bitter however so it is recommended to harvest the leaves when they are young.
18. Papaya Leaf Capsules: You can also purchase papaya leaf capsules from health food stores around the world. It is also available as a tincture in some herbal stores.
19. Caution: Before using herbal medicine at home, be sure to consult a doctor or herbal practitioner. These professionals will ensure that you are using the correct amounts for your body and health condition.
20. Side Effects: Studies show that some people are allergic to the papain enzyme found within the leaves, which could trigger itchy eyes and a runny nose. Be sure to check with your health care professional before using any herbal remedy. As you can see papaya leaves have some tremendous health benefits and medicinal properties for the human body.