Papaya Fruit is eaten as a melon, included in salads and when unripe, it is cooked as a vegetable. The seeds are said to have a similar flavor as capers. The green fruit stems and leaves are a rich source of gummy, milky, white latex that contains the powerful enzyme, papain (in latex and exudates).
Papaya contains papain, a remarkable, protein-dissolving enzyme that eases many stomach ailments and is an exceptional aid to digestion. A rich source of minerals and vitamins A, C and E, papain also breaks down wheat gluten, which may be of great help those with Celiac disease.
Papaya 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'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. Those who have difficulty digesting starchy foods, such as breads, cereals and potatoes, might find great relief in including Papaya in their diets. Papaya helps to settle a nervous and upset stomach and the queasy feelings often associated with travel and motion sickness. It has also been helpful in relieving morning sickness.
Papaya stimulates the bowels in times of constipation and is useful in treating inflammatory bowel disorders.
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.
Precautions: People who take blood-thinning medication (Coumadin, aspirin, etc.) should consult with their physicians before taking this herb, as it may have anticoagulant properties. Pregnant women should avoid Papaya, as it can be a uterine stimulant, (papain apparently dissolves a protein(s) responsible for adhering the newly fertilized egg to the wall of the uterus). Papaya in all its forms should never be taken by people with a latex allergy (causing anaphylactic shock). Inhaling papaya powder (high in the enzymes, papain and chymopapain, can induce allergies.