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22 Incredible Health Benefits Of Papaya Leaves

| Reviewed By Karthika Thirugnanam

Papaya leaves are equally famous for their health benefits as the fruit papaya. They have incredible medicinal properties that can help manage several conditions like dengue, menstrual pain and inflammation.

According to a study, papaya leaves contain enzymes called papain and chymopapain which are responsible to improve the overall health of a person. They are also packed with several phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals that act as wonder for the human body.

Active Compounds In Papaya Leaves

Papaya leaves are widely used in juice or tea forms to treat multiple ailments. They contain a compound called karpain that helps to kill microorganisms of the digestive system and treat other gastrointestinal problems. The leaves of the papaya plant also contain flavonoids, tannins, α-tocopherol (a type of vitamin E), beta-carotene, ascorbic acids, alkaloids (carpaine), phenols, minerals like calcium, sodium, iron, magnesium and vitamins A, C, B, K. [1]

Health Benefits Of Papaya Leaves

Papaya leaves are wonderful, healthy and among the most loved herbs. They belong to the papaya plant (Carica papaya) which is famous for its yellowish-orange fleshy fruit. Let's take a look at the health benefits of papaya leaves.

1. Treat Dengue

Dengue is a mosquito-based infectious disease affecting around 50-200 million people globally per year. According to a study, the papaya leaf extract has the potential to increase the platelet count in people who are infected with dengue and reduce fever. [2]

2. Ease Menstruation Disorders

Papaya leaves are a wonder for menstruating women. They help ease bloating that occurs during menstrual cramps. Usually, tea or decoction made from papaya leaves are helpful to treat PMS symptoms like headache, pain, indigestion and nausea.

3. Treat Skin Problems

According to a study, papaya leaf decoction has a healing capability against cancer, specifically skin cancer. The leaves of papaya have a strong cytotoxic effect that helps to kill human cancer cells better than other traditional remedies. [3]

4. Maintain Liver Health

Oxidative stress can cause a lot of damage to the liver leading to hepatitis and HCV-related cirrhosis. In a study, it was found that consumption of papaya leaves can provide potential support to the liver due to its antioxidant properties and vitamin E. [4]

5. Treat Malaria

Malaria is among the deadliest infectious diseases caused due to a parasite called Plasmodium. According to a study, daily administration of papaya leaves in patients with malaria helps to increase the red blood cells and reduce parasite load in their body. This can leads to the fast recovery of the liver from malarial parasites. [5]

6. Alleviate Mood Swings

Many studies reveal that the main cause of mood swings and other mental disorders are due to the deficiency of vitamin C in the body. Papaya leaves or its decoction helps to get relief from emotional tension like mood swings, stress and depression.

7. Support Digestive System

The enzymes in papaya like papain, protease and chymopapain aid protein and carbohydrate digest. This, in turn, helps to alleviate constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, heartburn, bloating and other digestive issues. Papaya leaves also help to maintain the digestive tract physiology. [6]

8. Boost Energy

Papain in papaya leaves are known to boost energy in an individual. The presence of several vitamins and minerals in these wonder leaves help treat chronic fatigue and maintain the energy levels in a person.

9. Reduce Inflammation

There are many diseases caused due to inflammation like diabetes, jaundice and cirrhosis. Inflammation in the body can also be due to certain allergies or illnesses. Papaya leaves have anti-inflammatory properties that help to treat chronic inflammation by reducing the oxidative stress in the body. [7]

10. Improve Insulin Sensitivity

The bioactive agents in papaya leaves have the potential to improve insulin sensitivity as well as secondary complications of diabetes, such as fatty liver, kidney damage and oxidative stress. According to a study, several diabetics use papaya leaf herbal treatment method to decrease their blood glucose. [8]

11. Good For Heart Health

The presence of polyphenols in many plants has shown positive results in reducing cardiovascular diseases. According to a study, papaya leaves have cardioprotective properties that help to reduce the oxidative stress induced on the heart due to the presence of phenolic compounds. [1]

12. Treat Heartburn

Papaya leaves are used as a natural remedy in many digestive issues like heartburn, bloating, constipation and irritable bowel syndrome. In a study, it was found out that the administration of papaya leaves in patients with chronic indigestion resolved the issue in a short period. [9]

13. Stimulate Hair Growth

Papaya leaves are fully packed with antioxidants like beta-carotene, enzymes like papain and vitamins like A and C. These compounds help to treat hair conditions such as dandruff and baldness along with adding volume to hairs and giving them the natural shine.

14. Believed To Have Anti-Cancer Property

According to some studies, papaya leaf extract has an anti-proliferative property that inhibits the growth of prostate cancer cells in men. The study also indicates the presence of a range of anticancer compounds and antioxidants in papaya leaves. [10]

15. Detoxify The Body

Green leaves are the best for the health of the liver. The presence of phytochemicals like flavonoids and alkaloids along with enzymes like papain in papaya leaves acts as a detoxification agent and protect the liver and kidneys from all its disorders like inflammation.

16. Manage High Blood Pressure

According to a study published in the journal Nutrients, papaya leaves are helpful to treat metabolic disorders like high blood pressure, obesity and insulin resistance. Papaya leaves cause a rapid drop in the arterial blood pressure compared to hydralazine (a hypertension drug). [11]

17. Relieve Constipation

Papaya leaves are of great medicinal value. They are used as a laxative to treat constipation issues by loosening stools and improving the bowel movement, with minimal side effects.

18. Prevent Cataract

Papaya leaves are rich in antioxidants, vitamin B, vitamin A, phenolic compounds, alkaloids, magnesium, potassium and beta-carotene. These compounds help to prevent cataract and other age-related ocular diseases. [12]

19. Improve Appetite

Loss of appetite is the main sign of diabetes. Papaya leaves are helpful to improve the insulin sensitivity in diabetics and control the glucose levels in their body. This, in turn, helps to improve appetite in them. Also, papaya leaves help to improve digestive problems like heartburn and bloating and stimulate appetite.

20. Heal Wounds

The presence of an enzyme 'protease' in papaya leaves is known to have wound-healing and de-sloughing properties. A study says that wound healing requires around seven days when treated with hydrogen peroxide and only four days with papaya leaves. However, the study needs more evidence. [13]

21. Prevent Lung Damage

Emphysema is a condition characterised by damage of the air sacs of the lungs and shortness of breath. Vitamin D in papaya leaves plays an important role in treating emphysema, lung inflammation and other chronic pulmonary diseases as well as improving the lung function. [14]

22. Slow Down Ageing

The main cause of ageing is the presence of harmful free radicals in the body. High antioxidants in papaya leaves help to scavenge free radicals and protect the skin from their damage. This helps maintain the health of the skin.

Side Effects Of Papaya Leaves

Papaya leaves are full of goodness but there are certain downsides which you should be aware.

  • May cause allergic reactions like skin rashes, upset stomach, dizziness and nausea
  • May cause complications like abortion if consumed during pregnancy
  • May cause an adverse effect on women who are planning to conceive
  • May interact with medications for diabetes and cause extreme low glucose levels.
  • May interact with blood thinners and case easy bleeding or bruising.
  • May cause respiratory congestion when consumed in high amount.

How To Use Papaya Leaves

Papaya leaves can be used in two ways: juice and decoction

1. Papaya leaf juice

It is the best and simplest ways to add papaya leaves to your diet. To prepare leaf juice, add around 5-10 tender papaya leaves in a blender and blend them until the mixture becomes smooth. Strain the thick juice in a glass with the help of thin cloth or a sieve. One can mix orange or any sweet fruit as the taste of papaya leaf juice will be extremely bitter. Honey is also preferable.

Amount: Mix around 2 tbsp or 5 ml of papaya juice with 20 ml of water.

2. Papaya leaf decoction

The tea or decoction made from papaya leaf is also widely used to treat various ailments. To prepare papaya decoction, boil papaya leaves in around 2 litres of water until the colour of the leaves fade and the water is reduced to half. Let it simmer for half an hour and consume.

Amount: Around 25-30 ml/day

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How do you eat papaya leaves?

Papaya leaves are extremely bitter in taste. That's why they are either blended into a juice or boiled to tea to reduce its bitterness. It is however suggested to add honey or jaggery to improve the taste.

2. Is papaya leaf good for kidney?

One of the serious complications of dengue fever is kidney or liver failure. Papaya leaves are very good for the kidneys as they are known to increase platelet count during the dengue fever and improve the functionality of kidneys.

3. Do papaya leaves increase white blood cells?

A study published in the journal Researchgate says that juice made out of papaya leaves are very useful to increase the count of white blood cells in our body along with platelet count.

4. Can we drink papaya leaf juice daily?

Drinking a moderate amount of papaya leaf is beneficial for health. For dengue patients, 2 tbsp or 25-30 ml of papaya leaf juice is recommended thrice a day (in every 6 hours) while in normal condition, one tbsp a day is recommended. Also, try to prepare fresh juice every day and don't use the juice which is stored for more than 24 hours.

5. What are the side effects of papaya leaf juice?

Papaya leaf juice may cause mild to moderate side effects like abdominal pain, severe drowsiness, nausea, irregular palpitation, skin irritation, inability to move and ulcer in the food pipe.

6. Is papaya leaf juice good for liver?

Active compounds like flavonoids, alkaloids and enzymes in papaya leaves act as a natural detoxifying agent for the liver. They help to prevent multiple diseases of the liver caused due to free radicals. Also, the antimicrobial property of papaya juice helps in fast recovery of the liver from malaria or dengue fever.

7. Is papaya leaf poisonous?

A high amount of anything is bad for health. As far as herbal treatment methods are concerned, quantity matters a lot, because high consumption of herbs may cause certain side effects. Papaya leaves are not poisonous but very beneficial for health especially in the treatment of dengue fever. However, some of the research says that papaya leaves contain a harmful chemical called cyanogenic glycoside which may interfere with body functions when taken in a large amount.

Karthika ThirugnanamClinical Nutritionist and Dietitian
Karthika Thirugnanam