Papaya extract is a substance that is found in the tropical papaya fruit, and it possesses many health benefits, especially a high antioxidant content. The fruit also provides fiber, folate and carotenoids for eye health, and it rich in several B vitamins and vitamins C, K and A. The fruit is also full of minerals, including zinc, phosphorous, calcium, magnesium and iron. Papaya is a healthy food, not only for its minerals and vitamins, but also for its anti-inflammatory benefits.
Two enzymes that aid digestion, chyomopapain and papain, are found in papaya extract. Papain is also good for fighting constipation, diarrhea, gas and nausea. The papain found in papaya extract provides anti-inflammatory properties that aid in the treatment of certain forms of arthritis. Some types of chewing gum and supplements manufactured as digestive aids contain papain. Another papaya enzyme, chemopapain, is occasionally used to treat slipped discs in the spine.
Health researchers are still studying at the usefulness of the fruit and the extract in treating a variety of diseases and conditions. Papaya is purportedly useful in fighting parasitic diseases and also as an antiseptic. Research has suggested that men who regularly consume papaya and green tea may lower their prostate cancer risk. Folk medicine has used various parts of the papaya plant for a large number of health problems. It has been employed to heal burns, ease asthma symptoms and treat psoriasis, hemorrhoids, rheumatism, tumors, corns and warts. Papaya is also said to be useful in inducing abortion and prompting lactation.
Papaya extract and other forms of the fruit can have side effects. People with a known allergy to latex should avoid the plant and any products made from its parts. Pregnant women are advised not to use papaya products. People with liver disease, pancreatitis or diabetes should check with a doctor before using papaya products.
The Indians of Latin America traditionally valued the papaya fruit, which grew throughout Central America. Early European explorers helped papaya’s popularity spread to other regions, including the Philippines, India and Africa. Major papaya producers today include Mexico, Puerto Rico and Hawaii. The fruit is a popular ingredient in many recipes. The seeds and ripened fruit can be eaten alone, put into soup and salads or used as the base for a tropical and colorful salsa.