The Papaya (Carica papaya) is a generous tree, it grows easily, produces delicious fruit and has many health benefits.
Thai name: malako
The tree: tone malako
The fruit: louk malako
The leaf: baille malako
Description of Papaya
It is an evergreen fruit tree belonging to the Caricaceae family and is native to tropical America.
This 3-7 m high shrub is generally unbranched.
When the main trunk is pruned or broken, secondary branches are often formed.
They can also occur naturally without altering the main trunk.
The hollow trunk, 20 cm in diameter, is covered with greenish or greyish bark, marked with leaf scars.
The leaves are clustered at the top of the trunk and are borne by a long petiole of 40-60 (-100) cm.
The palmately lobed blade is subcircular and 50 cm in diameter and is deeply divided into 7 (-11) lobes, which are themselves lobed.
The upper surface is matt light green, the lower surface with a whitish bloom.
The male flowers have a whitish corolla with a 10-25 mm tube and narrow creamy-white spreading lobes and 10 stamens, 5 long and 5 short.
The female flowers have 5 almost free petals of 5 cm, contoured, narrow, early deciduous and a pale yellow pistil of 2-3 cm.
The fruit is a berry of various shapes and sizes, 15-40 x 7-25 cm, appearing directly on the trunk, the pulp is orange and the seeds blackish.
This plant can be male or female, but also hermaphrodite. Both females and hermaphrodites (the latter in smaller numbers) bear fruit.
However, they require pollination to bear fruit.
The entire plant contains a proteolytic enzyme, the papain which is found in the latex between the bark and the pulp of the papaya and to a lesser extent, in the leaves of the tree.
The flesh of the papaya contains very little.
Papaya use in Thailand
The fruit is eaten ripe as a dessert or green as a vegetable in a salad.
The famous " Som Tam "Papaya pok pok" is a salad made from green papaya cut into strips and pounded in a mortar with various ingredients including lemon juice, tomatoes, fish sauce and lots of chilli.
The seeds and young leaves can also be eaten.
Medicinal properties of Papaya
Fruit is rich in vitamins A, B1, B2 and C.
Papain has many medicinal properties:
It is used to treat digestive disorders, as it is rich in proteolytic enzyme, necessary for digestion.
Papain has beneficial effects in the wound healing process: wounds, oedemas, inflammation...
The latex extracted from the still green fruit is used for its anti-parasitic properties.
The latex collected by incising the still green fruit is used to remove warts and corns.
Medicinal properties of papaya leaves
Recently, tests with papaya leaf juice were carried out in India on patients affected by dengue fever, and a clear increase in platelets was observed within 24 hours, as well as a significant improvement in the health of these patients.
The same researchers show that papaya leaves have powerful properties that help fight malaria and cancer.
According to a study conducted by American and Japanese researchers, there are no known toxic effects of papaya leaves and there are no side effects from their consumption either.
Some American doctors have even begun to recommend papaya leaf tea as part of chemotherapy.
Making your own papaya leaf juice
Important, the leaf must be raw, not cooked or boiled.
Pick up your papaya leaves, remove the thick, fibrous parts and the stems from your leaves.
Squeeze or crush the leaves and strain them through a filter to keep only the juice. One papaya leaf yields about one tablespoon.
2 tablespoons of papaya leaf juice 3 times a day are the doses recommended by these researchers.
If you don't want to tire yourself out or if you want to prepare a large quantity, you will need buy an electric juicer or manual.
Tenderising the meat
The leaves are also used in cooking to tenderise meat:
Simply crumple up the leaves and wrap them around the meat, then leave them in the fridge for several hours.
Papain powder mixed with salt is now also available commercially for the same purpose.
Medicinal properties of papaya seeds
Papaya seeds are often discarded even though they have many medicinal properties:
Papaya seeds contain essential nutrients that help cure cirrhosis of the liver.
Eating small amounts of papaya seeds regularly helps to detoxify the liver.
Recipe for the liver: grind 5 papaya seeds and mix them with a spoonful of lemon juice, drink this mixture twice a day for a month.
Researchers at the University of Karachi have found that Papaya seeds are beneficial for kidney health and to prevent kidney failure.
For the kidneys, it is recommended to chew 7 papaya seeds, 7 times a day.
The seeds have anti-inflammatory properties and can be used to relieve arthritis, joint disease, pain and redness.
Anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties
A small amount of papaya seeds can kill harmful bacteria such as E. coli, staphylococcus, and Salmonella.
They also help fight viral infections and are used as a remedy for dengue fever, typhoid fever, and many other diseases.
In Nigeria, papaya seeds with milk are used as a remedy for typhoid fever.
The seeds are widely used in Costa Rica to combat dengue fever.
Papaya seeds contain agents that prevent the growth of cancer cells and tumours.
They contain isothiocyanate which works well for colon cancer, breast cancer, lung cancer, leukaemia and prostate cancer. More information here.
Papaya seeds contain an alkaloid called "Carpaine" which kills intestinal worms and amoebic parasites.
Papaya fruit helps to metabolise proteins and makes the gastrointestinal tract extremely hostile to parasites.
Studies have shown that children in Nigeria got rid of parasites in their gut in 75 % of cases by consuming Papaya seed juice for 7 days.
Papaya seeds are excellent natural contraceptives for men and women, with no side effects, unlike chemical contraceptives which have many adverse effects with prolonged use.
For centuries, men and women in the Indian subcontinent and parts of Southeast Asia have traditionally used the papaya fruit and seeds as a form of birth control.
For men in particular, eating a teaspoon of Papaya seeds every day for 3 months can significantly reduce sperm production without affecting libido.
Moreover, this effect is temporary: when you stop using it, fertility returns to normal.
Excess fat and sugar
Papaya seeds have the ability to prevent the body from absorbing too much fat and sugar, which speeds up the digestion process and contributes to weight loss.
How to eat the seeds
You can eat them fresh, they are usually soft and easily digestible, or you can mix them with your salads or other dishes, they will give a peppery flavour to your meals.
You can also mix them in a blender with fruit juices.
Papaya latex can cause dermatitis.
Avoid consuming papain and green or underripe papaya during pregnancy, as they may have an abortifacient effect.
Photos of pawpaw
See also :
Medicinal plants in Thailand
Dengue can be treated with papaya leaf juice
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