Papaya is an amazingly rich source of proteolytic enzymes. Proteolytic enzymes are chemicals that help with the digestion of proteins. One of these enzymes, papain, is dried as a powder and sold as a supplement in health food stores to promote digestion. Papain is also commercially used as a meat tenderizer.
Papaya could help manage pain. How does it do this? Simply because it aids in digestion. It is a subtle, but far-reaching potential cure for all kinds of pain. When you can’t digest your foods properly (something that can happen as we age or because of illness), you don’t absorb nutrients. And when you are not absorbing nutrients, you don’t absorb any of the natural pain-relieving ingredients in the foods you’re eating either. And, on a larger scale, you aren’t getting the protective ingredients that could prevent a condition like arthritis from affecting you in the first place. Those who find it impossible to digest anything, often find that taking papaya in tablet or juice form puts them back on the road to recovery and good health.
In some cultures, the leaves of the papaya plant have been traditionally used as natural medicine for a number of disorders, including cancer. There have been anecdotes of patients with advanced cancers going into remission after taking a tea extract made from papaya leaves.
Researchers at the Institute of Medical Science in Tokyo, Japan, recently studied the effect of papaya extract on tumor cell lines. They found that papaya extract halted the growth of the tumor cells. They concluded that papaya leaf extract may potentially provide the means for the treatment and prevention of cancer.
On a less serious note, papaya may be able to help with heartburn. Heartburn is a painful, nagging condition that creates burning sensations in the chest or esophagus. Eat either the fresh fruit (which can now be found year-round in most grocery stores), or drink a glass of juice slowly. You should notice your heartburn start to ease within a short period of time. Papaya could also help ease the pain associated with ulcers.
Papaya is especially high in vitamins A, C and E. It is also rich in calcium, phosphorus and iron. The next time you have a cold and experience sinus pressure pain from the build-up of mucus, try some fresh papaya. It is known to have a high mucus solvent action. One final note about papaya: use it topically as a poultice to treat skin wounds and ease pain while healing.