Carica papaya L.

DeFilipps, Robert A. & Krupnick, Gary A., 2018, The medicinal plants of Myanmar, PhytoKeys 102, pp. 1-341: 42-44

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Carica papaya L.


Carica papaya L. 


Myanmar: thinbaw, sang-hpaw, shanghpaw, shang hap-wsi (Kachin), mansi (Chin), crot-kyeei, hla-crote kyee (Mon), mak-sang-hpaw (Shan). English: papaw, papaya, pawpaw.


Tropical America. Cultivated in Myanmar.

Conservation status.

Data Deficient [DD] ( IUCN 2017).


Known for binding and heating properties, the fruit, seeds, sap, leaves, and roots are used. Leaf: A mixture of the juice from crushed leaves and a small amount of opium is used to relieve muscle stiffness. Leaves blanched in hot water or wilted over heat are applied to affected body parts to relieve aches and pains of menstruation. Roasted leaves with a fish paste or fish sauce dip are prepared in a lepet [tea leaves steamed, pressed, fermented, mixed with oil (usually peanut oil); this added to salad] salad to alleviate buzzing in the ear and other ear problems. Fruit: Sweet and easily digestible ripe fruit stimulates hunger, facilitates digestion, promotes healthy urinary function, increases phlegm, benefits the heart, cleanses the blood, calms the bile, and protects against urinary diseases and gallstones. It promotes health and longevity, and protects against diseases. Soaking the fruit in water and taking the liquid three times daily alleviates enlargement of the spleen; eating the ripe fruit also alleviates enlargement of the spleen, as well as enlargement of the liver and hemorrhoids. Nearly ripe but still firm fruit is eaten cooked or in a salad to encourage healthy bowel and urinary functioning. A small amount of powder made from the dried, young fruit is used to alleviate chronic diarrhea. Juice from cut green fruit is applied to scorpion sting to neutralize the poison. The young fruit dipped in salt is eaten as a remedy for diphtheria. Children are given a small amount of the fruit sap together with milk or for indigestion. The milky sap from the green fruit is applied to relieve itching, rashes, ringworm, and other skin problems, including sores caused by venereal disease. The sap, which is also considered the best medicine for improving the function of many parts of the body, such as bone, marrow, and muscle, is used to treat stomach and intestinal pains from ulcers and other conditions. Seed: Ingested in amounts proportionate to the patient’s age, used for deworming. Root: Preparations made from the roots are used to regulate menstruation.


Medicinal uses of this species in India are discussed in Jain and DeFilipps (1991). Chemical constituents, pharmacological action, and medicinal use of this species in Indian Ayurveda are discussed in detail by Kapoor (1990). Medicinal uses of this species in China are discussed by Duke and Ayensu (1985).

The medicinal uses of this plant in the Caribbean region, as well as its chemistry, biological activity, toxicity and dosages, are discussed by Germosén-Robineau (1997). The chemical constituents, pharmacological activities, and traditional medicinal uses of this plant on a worldwide basis are discussed in detail by Ross (1999). A pharmacog- nostical profile including medicinal uses of this plant in Africa is given in Iwu (1993). Data on the propagation, seed treatment and agricultural management of this species are given by Katende et al. (1995). Details of the active chemical compounds, effects, herbal usage and pharmacological literature of this plant are given in Fleming (2000). Worldwide medicinal usage, chemical composition and toxicity of this species are discussed by Duke (1986).

The latex of Carica papaya  contains chymopapain, an enzyme which does not produce fever (non pyrogenic), and which dissolves protein (proteolytic). In modern medicine, the drug “chymodiactin”, obtained from the chymopapain-containing latex of the plant, is administered as an injection into the center of a protruding disk in the spine, in order to relieve the symptoms of pressure from "herniated lumbar intervertebral disks", i.e., to relieve the symptoms of pressure on nerve ends in the lower back. The latex of Carica papaya  also contains another proteolytic enzyme, papain. It is used as a prominent ingredient in “panafil” ointment, a pharmaceutical preparation which helps to debride a wound (to digest dead and infected tissue, while leaving healthy tissue unaffected) and maintain a clean wound base, and to promote healing. In the preparation, the papain is combined with urea, which activates its digestive function ( Bertran 1997).

The leaves contain an alkaloid, carpaine, which in small doses slows down the heart and reduces blood pressure, whereas in higher doses produces vasoconstriction; and that carpaine has spasmolytic action on smooth muscle, as well as being a strong amoebicide ( Mors et al. 2000). Seeds and leaves of Carica papaya  also contain glucotropaeolin, a bound toxin ( Lan et al. 1998). Uses of this plant in the Upper Amazon region, including the eating of its grated unripe fruit with aspirin to induce an abortion, are given by Castner et al. (1998).


Nordal (1963), Agricultural Corporation (1980), Perry (1980).