Could Papaya Leaf be a Cancer Treatment?
While the antioxidants, digestive enzymes and other nutritional factors in papaya can provide some protection against developing cancer, recent research studies are showing papaya leaves may have potential as a cancer treatment for those already suffering from the disease.
Papaya Leaf Cancer Research
Research by Doctor Nam Dang at the University of Florida found an extract made from dried papaya leaves killed cancer cells directly and slowed the growth of tumor cells in cultures.
The leaf extract was effective against all ten different types of cancer cells tested, including liver, lung, cervix, pancreas and breast cancer cells. The anti-cancer effects were also measured to be stronger at higher doses.
It was also found that papaya leaf extract boosts the production of Th1-type cytokines that benefit our immune system. Dr. Dang said, “Based on what I’ve seen and heard in the clinical setting, nobody who takes this extract experiences demonstratable toxicity; it seems you could take it for a long time – as long as it’s effective.” (Aqueous extract of Carica papaya leaves exhibits anti-tumor activity and immunomodulatory effects – Journal of Ethnopharmacology).
A Homemade Cancer Treatment?
There have been reports of people curing themselves from ‘incurable’ cancers with extracts made from papaya leaf. One well known case is that of Stan Sheldon from the Gold Coast in Australia who was reported to be dying from lung cancer.
He used the liquid from papaya leaves boiled and simmered in a pan, for two months before being tested to find both lungs clear of any traces of cancer. He said the disease had not reappeared several decades later and he had passed his treatment on to others, many of whom were also cured.
His recipe was to wash several medium sized papaya leaves, cut them up and place them in a saucepan with two litres of water. Heat the leaves in the water until it boils and reduce it to a simmer until the water is reduced by half. This may take a couple of hours. 50 ml of the resulting concentrate 3 times a day was the suggested dosage.
The liquid can be kept in the fridge in a large glass (not plastic) container and should last for several days, though it was recommended to discard it if it became too cloudy.
I’ve personally made this concoction before and have to tell you the taste is not that great (in fact, that’s a quite an understatement). Much more palatable is dried papaya leaf brewed into a strong tea with a little honey.
Fresh papaya leaves do seem to be potent though and if I had access to them and was in a situation where I thought they could be beneficial I would definitely use them. Rather than boiling them though, I’d actually juice them with a good masticating juicer.
It should be noted though that I’ve read of no reports of scientific studies on using them in this way as a cancer treatment and the papaya enzyme warnings and precautions would be especially applicable with juice made from the leaves.
Many of us don’t have access to a supply of fresh papaya leaves though, or may just be interested in a preventative rather than a potential treatment. Dried papaya leaf is much easier to take regularly as a tea and has been reported as beneficial for cancer sufferers when combined with other cancer treatments.
Keep in mind there are many health benefits of papaya fruit itself, such as its rich array of antioxidants and phytonutrients that can help protect against diseases like cancer. Digestive enzymes, particularly in fruits that are just turning from green to yellow, may also help dissolve the protective layer of fibrin that surrounds cancerous tumours and prevents them from being destroyed by our immune system.
Papaya leaves also contain papain and other proteolytic enzymes but analysis also shows many other biologically active compounds including the alkaloids carpaine, pseudocarpaine and dehydrocarpaine; high levels of tannins, flavonols and antioxidants; and a substance called benzyl isothiocyanate, which is currently being studied for its chemopreventive properties.
While natural treatments like papaya leaf may have a beneficial role to play, nothing on this page is meant as medical advice or as a suggestion to change a current regime for anyone being treated for cancer.
With the seriousness of this disease it is so important to become informed about all the treatment options available and work closely with a healthcare professional who specializes in it and has an open mind to any options that may prove effective.
I’ve had several emails, along with the comments below, regarding the effectiveness of using papaya leaves, not just as a cancer treatment but also as a natural remedy for dengue fever. I’ve written a new post on using papaya leaf juice for dengue here and it has new information and a different preparation method that could also have applications for cancer as well.
Photo 1 credit with thanks: Jeff Belmonte / Photo 2 credit with thanks: Dragon Eyezl