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 La papaye


PAPAYA tree (or plant)belongs to a genus, "carica", which now has only one species, "papaya".

Caricaceae belong to a plant family of African origin but whose ancestors have diversified in tropical America, it currently includes 6 genera, including Vasconcellea (about twenty species) with fruits that can be sometimes to be mistaken for a papaya.

Botanists classify them in the order of brassicales, of which cabbages, mustards, watercress are part; This is not without interest as some pharmacologically active substances are common to cabbages and papayas.

The papaya is native to tropical America but is now grown in all tropical countries.

Papaya tree is 3 to 10 m high, its trunk (it is actually a stem) is marked by the abscission scars of leaves that are quite large, long petiolate and lobed.

Fruits of variable size can reach 5 kg, generally ovoid.

The Amerindian name in Guarani means "fruit resembling a breast full of milk".

At maturity, papayas are yellowish green to yellow-orange, their juicy flesh, yellow, orange or red, delimits a central cavity filled with small black seeds.

Papaya fruit is widely consumed in tropical countries (it travels badly) but the papaya is also a medicinal plant by its roots, flowers, leaves, seeds and latex rich in enzymes.




Papaya fruit is rich in sugar (5 to 8%) when it is ripe, it is also a fruit rich in vitamins: vitamin C (60 to 70 mg / 100 g), Vitamin A and provitamin A (100 micrograms / 100g)

The wall of the papaya contains latex especially when it is green.
It is a mixture of enzymes dominated by PAPAIN (or papaine)and CHYMOPAPAIN (or chymopapaine), which causes the breakdown of proteins into smaller molecules and then into amino acids .

They are therefore enzymes that facilitate the digestion of protein foods (meat, fish, legumes ..) but have no action on sugary foods or fats.

The latex is collected for its papain content by incision of the still green fruits, it coagulates quickly and is recovered by scraping when dried.

It comes in small white to brown fragments, with a smell "close to grilled meat" and a slightly salty and bitter taste.

The flesh of the ripe papaya also contains a small amount of papain.



Papaya seeds and vegetable oil:

Papaya seeds contain 25 to 30% of their dry weight in assimilable lipids (vegetable oil) whose composition is interesting:

- oleic acid (70 to 75%) monounsaturated,
- palmitic acid (15 to 18%), unsaturated,
- stearic acid (4 to 5%), unsaturated,
- linoleic acid (3 to 5%), bi-unsaturated essential fatty acid.


Papaya seeds and isothiocyanates::

Papaya seeds contain a sulfur glycoside (glucatropeoline) which, when the seed is crushed, releases a volatile substance with a slightly peppery smell (benzyl isothiocyanate).

Glucatropéoline is a glucosinolate, it is a class of substances present in many plants of the order of brassicales (example: cabbages, broccoli, mustard, watercress, horseradish, radish, capers).
These substances are transformed by an enzyme, myrosinase, when the plant or seeds are crushed or crushed.
The various volatile products thus released are means of defense for the plant against grazing animals or some insects.
The different isocyanates (benzyl isothiocyanate in the case of papaya) are toxic at high doses but increase the palatability of some dishes or foods (such as mustard or pepper) and have interesting pharmacological properties at low dose :

- Protection against the development of cancers: by detoxifying carcinogenic products or by slowing the development of cancer cells or facilitating their disappearance by apoptosis.

- Antibacterial action on many bacteria including mouth bacteries responsible for dental plaque and caries.

- Antiparasitic action on intestinal parasites in both humans and animals.

- Anti-inflammatory action.

- Action on the maturation of spermatozoa: strong (reversible) decrease in the number of spermatozoa in the sperm, for fairly high doses of benzyl isothiocyanate and the possibility of modifying the movements of the uterus (anti-fertilizing action).

In order to obtain the papaya seed oil, the seeds are crushed, the benzyl isothiocyanate is therefore present in a variable amount in the papaya seed oil, which limits the use of the papaya oil in the diet as long as an economical way of lowering and controlling the quantity in papya seed oil of this interesting but potentially toxic substance in the long term has not be found.



Green leaves of papaya contain:

- latex with active enzymes on proteins,
- anti-inflammatory flavonoids,
- an alkaloid: carpaine which can affect the heart functioning (decreased contraction of the heart muscle) which can lower blood pressure, but there is no evidence of vasodilation of blood vessels this which limits its use to treat hypertension. At high doses, carpaine is toxic to the heart muscle (the myocardium).

Papaya leaves that are starting to turn yellow are traditionally used to treat viral infections in Asia, including dengue, which causes a decrease in the number of blood platelets (risk of hemorrhage) and a decrease in the level of neutrophils (blood cells that participate to the fight against infectious diseases).
Recent experiments (in humans and animals) confirm that an aqueous extract of the papaya leaf (without the veins) raises the platelet and neutrophil count.

The aqueous extract of papaya leaves has an hypoglycemic and anti-inflammatory effect useful in moderate type 2 diabetes.

A very prolonged decoction of well-developed leaves may have anti-cancer potency, it is an Australian native recipe, but this has not been confirmed by scientific experiments.

The very young leaves of papaya are edible, they then become more and more bitter.




The consumption of papaya is particularly recommended, it is a fruit most often "wild", not treated with pesticides and one of the tropical fruits which digests the best.
Its slightly bland flavor is enhanced by lemon juice. It is perfect in fruit salad and sorbet.

The green papaya, peeled, is excellent cooked in water and accommodated in gratin.
Papaya (fruit) is also dried, cut into strips, it can be kept for several days.

In some Pacific and Asian countries green papaya iscrushed, applied to the face to "lighten" the complexion and destroy some melanic spots (a few minutes of application followed by a rinsing abundant, but watch out for the eyes !!)


Fresh latex can be used to destroy corns and warts.

The slightly wrinkled leaves serve to tenderize the meat; just wrap the meat and leave it for a few hours in a cool place.
A decoction of leaves helps to remove blood stains from clothes.

Chymopapain has been used to relieve or heal neuralgia of the sciatic nerve resulting from herniated disc compression.
It was injected directly into the disc nucleus , the technique is delicate because the enzyme is neurotoxic and can cause significant allergic reactions.
This treatment has proven effective but is being phased out in most countries.

Raw or purified papain is used in digestive therapy to compensate for deficiencies in gastroduodenal and pancreatic secretions.

There are numerous pharmaceutical preparations containing crude or purified papain, sometimes in combination with other anti-dyspepic phytomedicines in the form of syrup, elixir, capsules or tablets.
The general indication of these products is dyspepsia by secretory insufficiency: atrophic or toxic gastritis, chronic parasitosis, hepatobiliary and pancreatic disorders, postoperative digestive disorders.

In external use, papain is an anti-inflammatory and a detergent promoting the healing of wounds and can be combined with antibiotics.
Papain is also included in the composition of skincare products.

CAUTION for some years these uses in dermatology are no longer encouraged by health authorities, some patients may develop dangerous allergic reactions. This is also the case for the use of papaya latex to treat intestinal parasites, the effective antihelmintic dose being very close to the toxic dose that causes diarrhea and digestive disorders.


Papaya seeds in the diet

Les graines de papaye peuvent s'utiiser pour donner un goût piquant, aromatiser certains plats ou crudités :

Exemple : une à deux cuillerées à café de graines fraiches que l'on pile dans un mortier ou que l'on broie au mixeur, ne pas conserver au frigo sinon tous les aliments un peu gras qui s'y trouvent prendront l'odeur du benzyl isothiocyanate.

Cette préparation simple permet de relever le goût de plats un peu fades et apporte à l'alimentation des substances protectrices contre la dégénérescence cancéreuse (comme le brocoli, le chou de chine, chou de Bruxelles, le cresson).
Certaines personnes ne supportent pas les graines de papaye écrasées, cela leur donne des douleurs gastriques. Il est prudent de commencer avec une faible quantité de graines écrasées, leur goût et leur odeur sont fortes.

Other uses of papaya seeds

In recent years countries producing large quantities of papaya (Brazil, Nigeria, India) are trying to develop the sub-products of this fruit (including seeds).

Papaya seed oil is already marketed, its fatty acid profile is interesting but the presence of benzyl isothiocyanate (BITC) does not allow it to be marketed in Western countries as edible oil (remember the cotton seeds oil causing male infertility in China because of the presence of gossypol).

Asian or African researchers are trying to solve this problem by using physical or biological means to lower the BITC rate.

Papaya seed oil can be used as a cosmetic oil, massage oil.


The young leaves of papaya can be eaten in the manner of SPINACH, they bring provitamins A and anti-inflammatory phenolic substances to the body, but the presence of alkaloids can make them very bitter .

Leaves at the end of their development (when they start to turn yellow) can be used to FIGHT AGAINST VIRAL DISEASES (arboviruses) such as dengue, zika or chikungunia.
There are not many studies on this subject, but on the occasion of large recent epidemics in Asia (especially the DENGUE) it has been possible to observe the interest of this traditional medicine.
There is, it seems, a shortening of the illness, fewer haemorrhagic or neurological complications, a decrease in severe cases requiring hospitalization.
The extract of the papaya leaf can be recommended in cases of dengue fever, but if the dengue fever is strong with bleeding signs, medical supervision is necessary because the disease can worsen rapidly especially in children.

EXAMPLE: grinding of two old but not entirely yellow papaya leaves, from which the main veins have been removed, mix with a little cold water and extract the juice, dosage: 5 ml or one teaspoonful 3 times a day for a adult, half dose in children. It is very bitter and can be sweetened with honey or sugar.

EXAMPLE: Short infusion in 1/2 liter of very hot water of two unglazed papaya leaves from which the veins have been removed, let infuse until cool. To consume in the day. Flavor if necessary.

This infusion can also be used in case of DIABETES type 2, it is used in this case half a leaf of papaya per day for a fortnight followed by a week without treatment.


Fermented papaya

Fermented fruits or vegetables have long been known for their ability to enhance immunity and organic defenses and to provide probiotic substances to the body.
Fermenting plants was also a way to preserve them before the era of fridges and freezers.

The fermented papaya has become traditional in Asia, it is used for its anti-inflammatory properties and for enforcing immunity, it is an "immunomodulator", it also helps to rebalance a defective intestinal flora (following antibiotic treatment prolonged or artificial feeding).

EXAMPLE OF PREPARATION of the papaya fermented in JAPAN:
Immature papayas (green) from organic farming or gathered in the wild are pressed whole, the juice obtained is fermented at room temperature and aerobically with inoculation of a bacterial strain (Enterococcus faecalis), during about 12 months then this preparation is inoculated by a fungus (Aspergillus oryzae), the fermentation lasts another 6 months under the same conditions of temperature and aerobiosis.

Example of dosage: 5 to 10 g daily for at least one month.

Some other traditional uses

The fresh flowers of the male papaya were used as an infusion against bronchitis and tracheitis but also as a decoction for "liver diseases" and "bad digestion" in Brazil.
Dried flowers are sometimes used as a dewormer as well as crushed seeds .

Roots: Traditionally in Creole Creole and Brazilian caboclos medicine, bark or root part was used as an aphrodisiac or anaphrodisiac, but this use may be related to the sexual symbolism of the fruit.


Papaya is a tropical plant that is easy to grow and can produce fruits often in less than a year. It is a plant of hot countries that does not support frost.

Simply used the seeds and transplant the seedlings into a loosened, composted and non-humid soil.

Papaya trees are male (therefore fruitless), female (with fruit) or hermaphrodite (with fruit). to know the plant sex you have to wait for the first appearance of flowers or flower buds.

In "professional" plantations, preference is given to hermaphroditic varieties.
The papaya is susceptible to several viral and fungal diseases that once installed on a land or in a region make the cultivation of this plant difficult or impossible.

Transgenic papayas resistant to the most important viral infections (Papaya Ringspot Virus PRSV or ring-spotted virus that also affects cucurbits) were "created" first in Hawaii, then in South America, Asia and China.

Transgenic papayas are only resistant to one strain of the virus, are perhaps more susceptible to fungal diseases than non-GMO papayas, which are less resistant to transport, can cause allergies and their spread is uncontrollable.

In garden cultivation papayas remain disease-free when grown under conditions that make them healthy and resistant (well-nourished, ventilated, spaced planting). In case of viral damage eliminate the sick papaya as soon as possible and burned them when dry.
It is also possible to prevent infections by eliminating insect vectors of viruses (aphids) using leaf purine or neem preparations.

The fruits are harvested as soon as the first yellow streaks appear on the green papaya. You have to take the fruit by twisting its foot and without cutting it with an instrument to avoid transmitting a viral disease from one plant to another.


The MOUNTAIN PAPAYA ( chamburo in spanish), Vasconcellea pubescens, is found in the mountains (andes) of South America.
It is a plant that develops in a slightly cold temperate climate (papaya terra fria), the mountain papaya is very similar to that of the tropics. Propagation is by seed and plants can be male, female or hermaphrodite (ambisexual).
Mountain papaya also looks like tropical papaya but is often smaller, with much sharper ribs. It is a fruit less "tasty", a little acid, which is sometimes consumed as a vegetable.

The agronomists have created a hybrid between this papaya and another neighboring species, Vasconcellea stipulata, it is the BABACO, typical of the Ecuadorian and Colombian markets.
The fruit of babaco is longer than the real papaya and has 5 very sharp ribs, the skin of the fruit is much thinner and can be consumed, the fruit is eaten raw and contains a little papain (some people may be allergic) .

Propagation is carried out by cuttings of stem rejection, it is possible to cultivate babaco in temperate countries with mild winter (Examples: Andean region of South America, South of Europe, California, New Zealand)

Papaya fruits on papaya tree
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A tropical fruit and a medicinal latex
Papaya plant, native to tropical America, is grown all over the world, its fruit
papaya or papaw, is now grown on a large scale in Asia, South America and Africa.
The whole plant contains latex containing enzymes that digest proteins and are useful in cases of digestive disorders hyposecretion.
The seeds are oleaginous and contain a compound that can be used as a condiment but has pharmacological properties: cancer prevention, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial.
The leaves are used to reduce the effects of arboviral infections, including Dengue fever.