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What Are the Different Uses of Papaya Seeds?

Dan Harkins
Updated Feb 12, 2024
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Papaya seeds are the source of a prized extract thought by many herbalists to have a range of medicinal uses — from anti-cancerous and antibacterial properties to easing the pain of arthritis and even burns. Though edible, the seeds have a bold peppery taste, so consuming them might be an unpleasant way to ingest this potentially valuable supplement. While many purchase a tincture made of papaya seeds to get the concentrated effects, papaya seeds also can be used to grow more papaya trees, of course. With the right know-how, this bounty of seeds can then be used to make papaya extract or flour at home.

Papayas have a storied reputation, both as a fruit and as a medicine. Christopher Columbus famously dubbed it the "fruit of the angels" when he was introduced to the food by indigenous people who already revered it. The tree, Carica papaya, grows throughout the tropical regions of the world in 2011, though Mexico is considered its native home. A smaller variety, the Hawaiian papaya, is more commonly found in produce sections.

Many use slightly dried papaya seeds to cultivate their own trees, which can thrive in warm weather with just moderately moist, yet well-fertilized, soil. Any below-freezing weather is likely to kill a papaya plant, so potted specimens should be brought indoors during cold spells. It will take a year or more for the trees to actually flower and bear fruit, typically once they have reached the height of a full-grown man or higher.

Many supplement with papaya merely by eating the fruit or drinking its juice. Some buy tinctures made from the seed extracts, while others dry and grind the seeds into flour for use in breads or desserts. Since herbalists often recommend a concentrated dosage to get the most effects, many recommend a manufactured tincture made from thousands of seeds. No specific dose has been set by an official institution though, since the seeds have proven safe for most people at all doses, except those with allergies to latex.

The medicinal benefits are starting to stack up in favor of tinctures made of papaya seeds. A 2008 study by researchers at Ethiopia's University of Gondar found that papaya seeds had a marked antibacterial effect. Another study in 2010, by University of Florida scientists, discovered that cancerous tumors were detrimentally affected by a leaf extract from the papaya plant. Though as of 2011 further study is still required to verify all of the uses of this plant, healers for centuries have used it as oral contraception, to ease digestive disorders, as an antiseptic, and to fight pain and parasitic infections.

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Dan Harkins
By Dan Harkins
Dan Harkins, a former military professional, brings his diverse life experiences to his writing. After earning his journalism degree, he spent more than two decades honing his craft as a writer and editor for various publications. Dan’s debut novel showcases his storytelling skills and unique perspective by drawing readers into the story’s captivating narrative.
Discussion Comments
By turquoise — On Nov 22, 2013

@donasmrs-- You can make a skin exfoliant from papaya seeds.

I've never made it, but I have a homeopathic facial scrub that contains ground papaya seeds. The enzyme in papaya is supposed to help get rid of dead skin cells and the seeds also work as a physical exfoliant.

I paid a lot for the product I use, but I bet you could add ground papaya seeds to any thick facial cleanser to make your own scrub. I think that whole papaya seeds would actually make a good body scrub because they are very coarse.

By stoneMason — On Nov 21, 2013

@donasmrs-- Some commercial papaya teas do contain the seeds. But they also contain papaya leaves or dried papaya fruit. So you might want to use papaya leaves or the skin in addition to the seeds. Otherwise, it might not taste like much.

Another option could be to ground them and eat them with something. It will have the same benefits that papaya extract has. I do this instead of buying papaya supplements. Papaya protects against cancer.

By donasmrs — On Nov 21, 2013

Can I make tea with papaya seeds?

I eat fresh papayas often and always throw out the seeds. I don't want to waste them anymore. Can I make tea with them?

Dan Harkins
Dan Harkins
Dan Harkins, a former military professional, brings his diverse life experiences to his writing. After earning his...
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