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Papaya (Papita): Uses, Benefits, Side Effects and More!

By Dr Ashok Pal +2 more


Carica papaya L. (papaya) is a tropical and subtropical plant native to Mexico and northern South America that has become naturalised in many parts of the world. Papye, pawpaw, lapaya, tapayas, and kapaya are some of the other names of papaya. It is an erect, large herbaceous plant that resembles a tree but is not woody. The leaves are huge, palm-shaped, with an average diameter of 50-70 cm. Depending on the flower type, the fruit that develops has a different shape. The fruit is 5-30 cm long and yellowish orange in colour. The pulp is sweet, and the fruit contains many black seeds.1          

papaya benefits

Papaya is a simple plant to grow in any well-drained soil that is free of standing water, which can kill the plant in 24 hours. The tree and its fruits require the least amount of rainfall in the summer and spring. Extreme cold or heat can be damaging to the tree and its fruits. Papaya trees and their fruits thrive in temperatures ranging from 21 to 32 degrees Celsius. A dry atmosphere enhances the taste of the fruits during ripening, whereas temperatures below 10  °C slow down ripening. Furthermore, it may take 8 to 10 months for the papaya seeds to bear fruit once they have been planted. Depending on the environmental conditions, the papaya tree can produce 30-150 fruits per year.3

Nutritional Value of Papaya:

The nutritional content fount of papaya fruits and papaya seeds is:

ComponentsContents (mg/100 g)
Dietary fibre0.37–0.60
β-carotene (μg/g)208.67–4534.26
Ascorbic acid (mg/g)35.32–43.80
Zinc (papaya seeds)5.00–6.17
Copper (papaya seeds)0.50–1.09
Manganese (papaya seeds)2.50–3.10
Table1: Nutrients found in papaya2

Carotenoids, papain and chymopapain are enzymes found in the unripe fruit. The seeds of papaya contain papaya oil that contains flavonoids.1 The papaya seed oil is high in lipidic phytochemicals and important fatty acids like oleic acid. Other fatty acids found in the seeds include arachidic, palmitic, linolenic, and stearic acids.2

Also Read: Grapefruit: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects and More!

Did you know ?

  • Papaya is a good source of fiber, which can help regulate blood sugar levels in individuals with diabetes. source: ADA
  • Papaya has been used in traditional medicine to treat intestinal infections caused by parasites. source: ncbi
  • Papaya leaf extract has been found to have antiviral activity against dengue virus. source: ncbi
  • Papaya seed extract has immunomodulatory effects, enhancing the hematological and immune profile of poultry. source:NCBI
  • The antioxidants in papaya can help protect against age-related macular degeneration and improve eye health. source:ncbi

Properties of Papaya:

Based on my experience, I have found that papaya may be beneficial in the management of metabolic dysfunctions, including metabolic syndrome. Papaya contains vitamins, bioactive compounds, and important lipids that have shown positive effects in managing metabolic conditions, even those associated with obesity.

Dr. Siddharth Gupta, B.A.M.S, M.D (Ayu)

Various parts of the papaya plant have properties, as listed below.

  • It might be an antioxidant
  • It might have an antibacterial property
  • It might have an anticancer potential
  • It might have an anti”inflammatory property
  • It might be helpful against ulcers (antiulcer)
  • It might help lower blood sugar levels (antidiabetic)
  • It might be helpful for the live (liver protective)
  • It might help in wound healing1
  • It might have an immunomodulatory (immunity booster) activity
  • It might be an anthelmintic (acts against parasitic worms) agent
  • It might have an antispasmodic (relieves muscle spasms) potential
  • It might be effective against fungi (antifungal)
  • It might be effective against the malarial parasite (antimalarial)4

Also Read: Ice Apple: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects and More!

Potential Uses of Papaya:

In my experience, papayas have been used for centuries as a natural remedy for indigestion and digestive problems. The presence of papain in papayas has shown promising effects in reducing inflammation that can aid in healing.

Dr. Rajeev Singh, BAMS

Potential uses of papaya for infections:

Papaya root extract was tested for antibacterial activity against several bacteria and fungi. Papaya leaf extract might have antibacterial efficacy against Pseudomonas aeruginosa, according to researchers. The leaf extract had greater efficacy against all Gram-positive bacteria.1

Papaya leaf extracts were tested for antimicrobial efficacy against Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, and Candida albicans.1 Another study revealed the possible antibacterial activity of papaya seed extract against S. aureus, Bacillus subtilis, P. aeruginosa and E. coli. Green unripened papaya fruit extract might have antibacterial activity against E. coli and P. aeruginosa, according to researchers.1

The antifungal activity of extract from various parts of the papaya tree against Microsporum fulvum, Candida albicans, and Aspergillus niger has been reported.3 The antifungal activity of crushed leaf extract might have potential activity against the majority of fungi.The juice of papaya leaves might be a natural medication for dengue fever. One of the bioactive components of papaya, flavonoid, has been shown to have antiviral efficacy against the dengue virus.3

Potential uses of papaya for diabetes:

Over the years, I’ve seen the benefits of including papaya in your diet for lung health, especially if you smoke or are exposed to secondhand smoke. Harmful components in cigarette smoke can deplete vitamin A levels, which are essential for healthy lungs. Papaya, rich in vitamin A, may help replenish this nutrient and support your lung well-being.

Dr. Smita barode, B.A.M.S, M.S.

Papaya has long been used to manage diabetes mellitus in several African societies. Several studies have found that certain parts of the papaya tree might help lower the blood sugar levels in both humans and animals. A study found that leaf extracts of papaya might have hypoglycaemic (blood sugar lowering) effects.3

Likewise, seed extract from ripe papaya may have antidiabetic properties with a possible reduction of fasting blood sugar levels in an animal model. Green papaya has also been suggested as a possible therapy for diabetic patients.3 However, its exact potentiality for diabetes is yet to be researched. Kindly consult a doctor for the proper diagnosis and treatment of diabetes.

Potential uses of papaya for the liver:

Based on my experience, I’ve observed that including vitamin C-rich foods like papaya in your diet might provide protection against inflammatory polyarthritis, a type of rheumatoid arthritis that affects multiple joints. The natural vitamin C found in papaya has shown positive effects in humans.

Dr. Anuja Bodhare, B.A.M.S, M.D (Ayu)

Several animal studies have shown the potential liver-protective effects of papaya fruit extracts. The levels of lipid peroxidation, total bilirubin, serum enzymes were found to be lower in animals who were given papaya extracts.3

The liver protective effects of papaya stalk extract were also examined in an animal model. The presence of bioactive substances, such as tannins, alkaloids, and saponins, back up the traditional use of papaya for liver damage.3 However, more research is required.

Potential uses of papaya for ulcers:

Many studies have shown that papaya leaves and seeds may help with stomach and intestinal ulcers. An animal study found that papaya seed extracts might reduce stomach acidity and gastric juice volume and acidity, thus apparently inhibiting ulcers and acting as a stomach-protective agent.3 further research is required to prove these potential effects.

Potential uses of papaya for malaria:

Papaya leaf extracts exhibit antimalarial potentiality against P. falciparum and might have the potential to be used as an environment-friendly mosquito repellent.3

According to animal studies, papaya leaf extracts were found to have antimalarial activity against Plasmodium berghei. Tea prepared from papaya leaves might be helpful against malaria.3 The complete effects need more research as scientific back up.

Potential uses of papaya for diarrhoea:

According to a study, raw papaya extract might demonstrate anti-diarrhoeal action, while ripe papaya extract might have anti-diarrhoeal potential against Plesiomonas shigelloides. In another animal study, the papaya leaf extract was found to have good anti-diarrhoeal activity.1 However, these claims require more research to be proved as concrete facts.

Potential uses of papaya for wounds:

The wound healing ability of papaya seed and root extract was investigated in animals. According to the findings, the extract demonstrated potential wound healing activity. There was a significant reduction in the wound size on treatment with papaya latex.1

Potential uses of papaya for cancer:

The papaya plant contains papain, an enzyme that might be helpful against cancer. Papain contains the pigment lycopene, which is extremely reactive to free radicals and oxygen. Isothyocynate, found in papaya, might be beneficial for the breast, prostate, pancreas, lungs, blood, and colon from cancer.1

In a study, it was discovered that papaya leaf extract might slow the growth of cancerous cells and may lower the cancer markers. The anticancer activity of the extracts of papaya’s aerial parts was tested on different types of cancer cells: skin cancer, kidney cancer, and breast cancer cells.1 According to one study, the black seeds of yellow ripe papaya might also have an effect on prostate cancer cells proliferation.1 However, a serious condition like cancer must be treated properly by a professional. Kindly consult the concerned doctor (oncologist).

Potential uses of Papaya for inflammation:

Papaya (Papita) contains alkaloids (like choline and nicotine), flavonoids, tannins, and saponins, all of which have been found to have a significant impact on chronic (long-term) inflammation. Proteolytic enzymes found in papayas, such as papain and chymopapain, might also have anti-inflammatory properties.1

The anti-inflammatory effects of papaya leaves extract were studied using several animal models. It was found that the extract of papaya leaves might have anti-inflammatory properties. In an animal study, the aqueous extracts of papaya seeds were also found to exhibit potential anti-inflammatory properties.3

Potential uses of papaya for the immune system:

Proteolytic enzymes found in papayas, such as papain and chymopapai, might also have immunity-enhancing properties. According to a study, ripe and unripe papaya fruit might have immunity-enhancing effects.1

According to animal studies, the ripened transgenic papaya fruit may increase the level of immunoglobulins IgM (antibody) , thus helping improve immunity.1

Potential uses of papaya for anaemia:

Anti-sickling (anti-anaemic) chemicals such as tyrosine, glycine, and phenylalanine have been found in immature papaya fruit. The presence of phenolic acids, aromatic amino acids, and antioxidant chemicals in immature papaya fruit might cause the anti-sickling (anti-anaemic) effect.2 According to several studies, unripe papaya fruits and dried leaves have been found to have possible anti-sickling activity and, therefore, might be helpful for sickle cell anaemia.3

Though there are studies that show the potential uses of papaya in various conditions, but these are insufficient and there is a need of further studies to establish the true extent of benefits of papaya on human health. 

Also Read: Plums: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects and More!

How to Use Papaya?

Papaya can be used as:

  • Papaya leaf syrup
  • Papaya leaf tablet
  • Papaya leaf ointment
  • Papaya leaf capsule4
  • Papaya fruit
  • Papaya juice3

You must consult a qualified doctor before taking any herbal supplements they will prescribe you the form and dosage of the medicine containing papaya as per your requirement. Do not discontinue or replace an ongoing treatment of modern medicine with an ayurvedic/herbal preparation without consulting a qualified doctor.  

Also Read: Is Papaya Good for Diabetes? Evaluating the Research-Based Evidence

Side Effects of Papaya:     

Side effects associated with the excess use of papaya are:

  • Skin irritation
  • Allergic reaction
  • Uterine contractions (miscarriage)
  • Carotenemia (skin discolouration; yellowing of soles and palms)
  • Stomach upset
  • Breathing difficulties or wheezing (whistling sound during breathing)5
  • Nasal congestion5

If you experience any such side effects, seek immediate medical help from your doctor who has prescribed it to you. They will be the best guide for providing proper treatment to overcome side effects.

Precautions to Take With Papaya:

Papain and chymopapain, two primary ingredients of papaya, might have ill effects on pregnant women. Hence, papaya should not be used by pregnant females.6

No research has been documented on the safe use of papaya in children and elderly. Therefore, it should only be taken under the supervision and advice of a physician for its benefits.

Also Read: Longan: Research on Its Health Benefits and Nutritional Value

Interactions With Other Drugs:

Several medicines, like metformin, glimepiride (blood sugar lowering drugs), digoxin (a drug for heart conditions), ciprofloxacin (antibiotics), and artemisinin (antimalarial), may have significant drug interactions with papaya leaves.7

Sugar-lowering medications, such as metformin and glimepiride, revealed complicated interactions with papaya leaf extract. When papaya leaf extract was combined with metformin, it initially reduced metformin’s sugar reducing effect after two hours but then increased it after 24 hours.7

When papaya leaf extract is combined with artemisinin, it has additive antimalarial (kills the malarial parasite) effects against Plasmodium falciparum.7

Also Read: Coconut: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects and More!

Frequently Asked Questions:

What is papaya?

Papaya (Papita) is a fruit, generally 5-30 cm long and yellowish-orange in colour. The fruit pulp is edible and contains many black seeds.1

How to grow papaya?

It is a simple plant to grow in any well-drained soil that is free of standing water. When properly manured, papaya trees can grow very quickly in light tropical soil with a pH of 6.5 to 7.0.3

Which vitamin is present in papaya?

Papaya contains vitamins A, C and E.1

Is papaya good for diabetes?

Papaya might be good for diabetes. Several studies have found that certain parts of the papaya tree might help lower the blood sugar levels in both humans and animals.3 Kindly consult a doctor for the treatment of diabetes and do not self-medicate.

Is papaya good for the liver?

Papaya might be good for the liver. The presence of bioactive substances, such as tannins, alkaloids, and saponins might be the reason behind the traditional use of papaya for liver damage treatment.3 Kindly consult a doctor. Do not self-medicate.

Is papaya good for pregnancy?

Papaya is not good for pregnancy. Papain and chymopapain, the two primary ingredients of papaya might have ill effects on pregnancy. Therefore, papaya should not be consumed by pregnant women.5

Does papaya increase blood sugar?

No, papaya does not increase the blood sugar level.3

How to use papaya leaves for hair growth?

Applying the leaf extract to the hair might help in hair growth and might be helpful against hair loss.4

What are the benefits of eating papaya?

Papaya might have several properties like antioxidant, antibacterial, anticancer,anti”fertility, anti”inflammatory, antiulcer, antidiabetic, liver-protective, wound healing, immunomodulatory, anthelminthic, antispasmodic, antifungal, anti-anaemia, and antimalarial activity.1,2 However, these effects need to be proved by more research.

Are papaya leaves good for dengue?

Yes, papaya leaves might be good for dengue. The juice of papaya leaves has been reported to have a potential use as a natural medication for dengue fever.3 However, more research is needed to prove such claims.

What do papaya leaves contain?

Quercetin, kaempferol kaempferol 3-rutinoside, quercetin 3-rutinoside, kaempferol, myricetin 3-rhamnoside are the flavonoids present in papaya leaves.1


  1. Sharma A, Bachheti A, Sharma P, Bachheti RK, Husen A. Phytochemistry, pharmacological activities, nanoparticle fabrication, commercial products and waste utilization of Carica papaya L.: A comprehensive review. Curr Res Biotechnol. 2020; 2: 145-160. Available at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2590262820300162
  2. Dotto JM, Abihudi SA. Nutraceutical value of Carica papaya: A review. Sci Afr. 2021; 13: e00933. Available at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2468227621002374
  3. Alara OR, Abdurahman NH, Alara JA. Carica papaya: comprehensive overview of the nutritional values, phytochemicals and pharmacological activities. Adv Trad Med. 2020: 1-31. Available at: https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Carica-papaya%3A-comprehensive-overview-of-the-and-Alara-Abdurahman/8ba5e24f4ba5cd93b2f5b12d33b9b086cddbb203
  4. Sidat PS, Varachia AI, Vanshiya SK, Unagar AH, Akbari MG, Dhamat RC. Carica papaya leaves: One of dynamic plant parts having multiple therapeutic activities. Himal J Health Sci. 2020: 37-48. Available at: http://www.hjhs.co.in/index.php/hjhs/article/view/67/56
  5. Aravind G, Bhowmik D, Duraivel S, Harish G. Traditional and medicinal uses of Carica papaya. J Med Plants Studies. 2013; 1(1): 7-15. Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/285028880_Traditional_and_medicinal_uses_of_Carica_papaya
  6. Vij T and Prashar Y. A review on medicinal properties of Carica papaya Linn. Asian Pac J Trop Dis. 2015; 5(1): 1-6. Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/264386483_A_review_on_medicinal_properties_of_Carica_papaya_Linn
  7. Lim XY, Chan JS, Japri N, Lee JC, Tan TY. Carica papaya L. Leaf: a systematic scoping review on biological safety and herb-drug interactions. Evid Based Complement Altern Med. 2021; 2021. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34040647/

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