While there are many benefits to eating papaya, there are also a few potential side effects and warnings to be aware of, particularly with regards to the unripe fruit and papain based enzyme supplements.
Green papaya latex, which is rich in the main papaya enzyme papain, has been traditionally used by various cultures in Asia to induce a miscarriage during pregnancy.
For this purpose it was often applied directly to the uterus, but food forms such as green papaya salad, the parasite killing papaya seed smoothie ahead, as well as supplements containing papain are best avoided by pregnant women.
This warning does not extend to a fully ripe fresh fruit, which contains much lower levels of papain and is considered very healthy for pregnant women with it’s rich antioxidant and vitamin content.
Papaya Enzymes and Breast Feeding
Some sources advise against using papaya enzymes, unripe papaya or even the ripe fruit during breast feeding, though no specific reasons or supporting research is given why.
Interestingly, green papaya salads and soups are popular across Asia as a galactagogue, a substance that increases milk flow from the breast. To this end, eating the fruit while it is still green is often recommended for breast feeding women. Many Asian women also eat it regularly, even when not breast feeding, believing doing so can lead to an increase in breast size over time.
Papaya and Stomach Ulcers
There are mixed reports from health resources regarding papaya and ulcers. On the one hand, people suffering from severe stomach ulcers are sometimes advised to avoid the fruit, particularly when it’s green, as well as any digestive enzymes with papain.
On the other, eating papaya with its many nutrients and enzymes is often said to help prevent stomach ulcers and heal minor stomach problems. It may do this by both increasing the protective mucus secretions in the stomach and, due to its ability to speed up the break down of protein, lessening the amount of time hydrochloric acid sits in the stomach.
While the occasional ripe fruit should not cause problems, talk to your doctor if you are being treated for a stomach ulcer and are thinking of using enzymes containing papain for digestion.
Papain may increase the blood thinning effects of medications such as Warfarin and other anticoagulants, including daily aspirin taken for this purpose. As such it is not recommended for use at the same time as a course of these drugs.
It is best not to take papain for several days before major surgery for the same reason.
People with blood clotting disorders, such as thrombosis and hemophilia, are also advised to avoid papain and green papaya. In cases like these, and any of the above, it is best to discuss using papain enzymes with a knowledgeable healthcare professional.
Papaya and especially the green fruit should be avoided by anyone with a latex allergy. Papaya allergies are rare, but people who experience allergic reactions to papaw may also have an adverse reaction to pineapples, avocados, bananas, figs, kiwi fruit, melons and possibly other tropical fruit as well and should use these with caution and watch for symptoms.
Allergic reactions symptoms, while once again very uncommon, can include: swelling or itching of the face, lips, tongue and throat; rashes that appear shortly after consumption; dizziness; difficulty swallowing; and abdominal pain. There may be other side effects of a papaya or latex allergies so seek medical advice as soon as possible if you have any unusual reactions after eating any of the fruit listed above.
For the vast majority of people, papaya and the enzymes from the unripe fruit are an extremely nutritious food and a very healthy addition to your diet. Next is a look at the unusual health benefits of papaya seeds and using them as a treatment for parasites.
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