A powerful aid in the fight against cancer:
The humble papaya is finally gaining credibility in Western medicine for numerous medicinal uses. It also contains anticancer powers that folk cultures have recognized for generations. University of Florida researcher and a professor of medicine Nam Dang, M.D., Ph.D., and colleagues in Japan have documented papaya’s dramatic anticancer effect against a broad range of lab-grown tumors, including cancers of the cervix, breast, liver, lung and pancreas. The researchers used an extract made from dried papaya leaves, and the anticancer effects were stronger when cells received larger doses of the extract.
In a paper published in the Feb. 17, 2010 issue of the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Dang and his colleagues also documented for the first time that papaya leaf extract boosts the production of key signaling molecules called Th1-type cytokines. This regulation of the immune system, in addition to papaya’s direct antitumor effect on various cancers, suggests possible therapeutic strategies that use the immune system to fight cancers.
An Australian man, Stan Sheldon, claims to have cured himself of cancer using an extract of
papaya leaves. His story and cure are featured in “Papaya: The Medicine Tree,” a book about cancer survivors who have used papaya to cure themselves.
His recipe involves cutting up papaya leaves and simmering them in two quarts of water until the liquid level reduces to one quart, which he strained and ingested three times a day in three-tablespoon doses. A batch can be stored in a refrigerator for up to four days.
As for the fruit itself, it contains all of the same enzymes and compounds, though green, unripened papaya has higher concentrations of key nutrients than does the fruit when it’s ripe.
Effect on digestion:
According to Department of Animal Science at Cornell University; “Papaya extract has papain and chyomopapain; these two enzymes help with the digestive system by breaking down the proteins and supporting production of digestive enzymes.” Individuals over 50 years old produce fewer digestive enzymes in their stomachs and intestines, resulting in poor protein digestion. Papain is helpful in preventing this digestive problem. Papain also helps alleviate nausea, flatulence, diarrhea and constipation.
Papaya extract is chock full of dietary fiber, vitamins B1, B2 and B3 as well as vitamins A, K and C. Papaya extract also contains minerals such as calcium, iron and magnesium, phosphorus and zinc. It is also fat free, cholesterol free and has low sodium content. It contains the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, which are both beneficial for age-related eye diseases such as macular degeneration.
It could also turn out to be the only known remedy for dengue fever. The juice of the papaya leaf has been seen to arrest the destruction of platelets that has been the cause for so many deaths from dengue fever. Researchers have found that active ingredients in the papaya leaf can fight a host of viral infections, not just dengue, and can help regenerate platelets and white blood cells. Scores of patients have benefited from the papaya leaf juice, say doctors.
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Caution: Papaya may interact with anticoagulants such as warfarin (Coumadin®) and increase the risk of bleeding. Caution is advised in patients with bleeding disorders or taking drugs that may increase the risk of bleeding. Dosing adjustments may be necessary.
Papaya may lower blood sugar levels. However, papaya fruit contains carbohydrates and may theoretically increase blood sugar. Caution is advised in patients with diabetes or hypoglycemia, and in those taking drugs, herbs, or supplements that affect blood sugar. Blood glucose levels may need to be monitored by a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist, and medication adjustments may be necessary.