The Health Benefits of Papaya And It’s Role In Fighting Cancer and the Immune System

Papaya (PawPaw) is a sweet and succulent fruit found in tropical climates around the world. Its health benefits are many; it is naturally rich in vitamins, minerals, lycopene, beta-carotene and other vital nutrients. Many cultures successfully use the leaf, seeds, skin and pulp of this miraculous fruit for various diseases, infections and skin conditions. Today, researchers and scientists throughout the medical community are stepping up the investigation into the health benefits of papaya leaf (pawpaw twig) and the role it plays in fighting cancer, wound care, its anti-inflammatory benefits and how it helps to strengthen the immune system. Groundbreaking studies are showing that the enzymes and other compounds found in the leaves, skin, pulp and seeds of the have a variety of medicinal uses.

The Parts of Papaya That Are Effective

One of the reasons that papaya or paw paw is so unique is that all parts of this fruit, including the leaves, flesh, skin and seeds have nutritional and health benefits. In the tropical areas of the world where papaya is readily available, the consumption and use of papaya for enjoyment and medicinal cures are part of everyday life.

Papaya Leaf Tea: Papaya Leaf Tea reduces inflammation, activates immune system response, and inhibits tumor cell growth through the strengthening of the immune system and increasing the natural anti-tumor effects that occur in immune response.[1] The tea is ideal for individuals that enjoy drinking herbal teas and many find that it has a similar taste to green tea; but it is packed with more nutritional and health benefits.

Papaya Leaf Extract: Papaya leaves are successfully used for Dengue Fever, digestive upset and for treatments of serious illnesses including cancer. Scientific research indicates that papaya leaf extract regulates T-cells and increase the immune system response to cancer.[2] Papaya leaves are not readily available in stores in the United States; a concentrated extract of the leaf is available in both capsules and liquid formulas from the company Herbal Papaya.

Papaya Seeds: Papaya seeds are proven effective for eliminating human intestinal parasites without significant side effects.[3] Papaya seed extract capsules have antihelminthic and anti-amoebic properties that kill parasites and intestinal worms throughout the digestive system.

Fermented Papaya: A current clinical trial at Ohio State University is evaluating the benefits of using fermented papaya in diabetic wound healing. Known for its antioxidant properties and protection from oxidative damage; the study centers on determining the angiogenic response of wound sites.[4]

Papaya Flesh: The nutritional benefits gained from the regular consumption of papaya are extraordinary. This nutrient rich fruit aids in digestion, helps to strengthen immune systems, and lessens inflammation in joints and throughout the body. Papain, which is concentrated in papaya, breaks down proteins and aids in digestion. Organic papaya fruit and leaf juice is ideal for individuals that do not have regular access to fresh organic papayas in their area.

Papaya Skin: The skin of the papaya has been used for generations to assist in burns and wound healing by placing it directly on infections and other skin maladies. Additionally, when making smoothies with the papaya flesh, the fruit does not need to be skinned.

Understanding The Immune System

The immune system is a network of organs and cells in the human body that defends against toxins, foreign invaders, and infections. When an invader is detected, the immune system launches a fighting response by producing antibodies. The immune system is made of white blood cells including T-cells and B-cells. T-cells are responsible for coordinating the immune response to destroy infected cells. B-cells on the other hand make the antibodies that bind to invaders to allow the other cells to destroy the invaders. When the T-cells do not send signals to the B-cells, the B-cell is not able to make the antibodies necessary for an attack.

Autoimmune Diseases

When the immune system is not working properly, it can become unable to detect the difference between healthy and unhealthy cells and attack normal healthy cells in error. This results in a variety of autoimmune diseases where the body actually turns against itself causing damage to healthy cells and tissues. It is estimated that nearly 24 million Americans suffer from autoimmune diseases including Celiac Disease, Type 1 Diabetes, Graves Disease, Guillain-Barre Syndrome, Multiple Sclerosis, Psoriasis, Rheumatoid Arthritis and many others. [5] Prescription medications for autoimmune diseases often focus on suppressing the immune system’s response thereby limiting the natural ability of the immune system to fight off critical invaders including those that fight cancer.

How T-Cells Are Related To Cancer Treatment & Immunotherapy

T-cells cells help our bodies fight infection and attack and destroy invading infectious agents. They are produced in bone marrow and are further developed and matured in the thymus gland. After they become mature, they are found in blood and the lymphatic system. Essentially, T-cells directly influence the natural immune response in suppressing tumors and cancerous cells. A healthy immune system produces T-cells regularly to help fight diseases, infections and cancer causing toxins. The immune system is central to protecting against AIDS, cancer and other diseases of the autoimmune system. Immunotherapy is a treatment that uses the natural immune response to wage a war against cancer and other diseases. Today, this is a growing area of cancer treatment that focuses on boosting the immune system so that it can effectively combat foreign invaders including those responsible for cancer. Researchers and scientists at Stanford University’s Cancer Immunology & Immunotherapy Research Program are working on new strategies to exploit the human body’s natural immune response to destroy tumors. These include therapeutic monoclonal antibodies, and cell-based therapies to increase the patient’s immune response to attack cancer in their body.

Papaya Increases Regulatory T-Cells

Activated platelets help the immune system’s response in inflammatory diseases. Platelets are an integral part of the body’s natural inflammatory process and are currently being researched to determine their role in fighting inflammation and improveming T-cell responses. Recent studies in mice show the role of platelets can enhance the antigen presentation, improve T-cell responses and play a critical function in normal immunity.[6] Carica papaya leaf (paw paw twig) extracts can be used to enhance the production of selected blood parameters aiding in tumor cell regulation, according to the Department of Genetics and Biotechnology at the University of Calabar in Nigeria.[7] In addition, researchers have found evidence to support that Carica papaya (paw paw leaf) extracts increase T-cells and help to mediate the body’s inflammatory response and potentially alleviate inflammation throughout the body.

Inflammation

Inflammation can occur anywhere in the human body. It is a process caused when the immune system triggers a response to an outside invader or foreign substances. In autoimmune diseases, the system triggers the response when there are no substances to fight off. Symptoms of inflammation include swollen joints, pain, stiffness, and general flu symptoms. Inflammation also can affect internal organs. Ethanolic extract of Carica papaya leaves have been shown to reduce anti-inflammatory activities in the body.[8] By reducing inflammation and increasing T-cell activity, the body is more apt to fight foreign invaders that cause disease.

The Relationship Between Papaya And Cancer

Cancer causing toxins, tumors and other outside invaders are fought off by the immune system. A healthy immune system that has active and healthy T-cells is more able to fight off foreign substances that can lead to cancer and other serious health problems. Additionally, inflammation in the body can cause the immune system to function inadequately thereby increasing the risk for cancer. Carica papaya helps to reduce inflammation, increase healthy T-cell activity thereby encouraging a healthy and active response to cancerous cells in the body. The link between the consumption of papaya leaf extract, papaya leaf tea, and papaya and cancer in general will continue to be researched.

Papaya And Pregnancy

Grown in tropical areas throughout the world, papaya is a luscious and healthful fruit. As mentioned above, the seeds, leaves, flesh and skin all have medicinal qualities. Ripe papaya has not been found to be dangerous to pregnant women or their baby, however, unripe or green papaya early in a pregnancy can cause a miscarriage. In some parts of the world, unripe papaya is used to induce labor. Papain in high amounts from green papayas is believed to jumpstart and strengthens labor contractions, thereby hurrying along the process of labor. There currently is no scientific evidence to support this theory, however, thousands of women across the world standby this practice. It is important to note that medical practitioners recommend that pregnant women during the first two terms of pregnancy avoid unripe or green papaya as the same naturally occurring chemical reactions that can encourage labor can cause a spontaneous miscarriage.

Papaya Products & Better Health

Scientific research indicates that there is a positive relationship between papaya and cancer. Paw paw cell regulation is being researched throughout the world as a potential cure for autoimmune and other serious disorders. Papaya helps to increase the immune system so that the body is able to fight foreign invaders. Unfortunately, most people in North America do not have access to fresh papaya. Pure papaya products available include papaya leaf extract, papaya leaf tea and papaya seed extract in capsule form for individuals that do not have access to the fruit. Papaya leaves are not available in stores; therefore, to receive the health benefits of mentioned above, the extract from the leaves is the only way to receive its benefits. In the United States, you can purchase papaya leaf and juice products manufactured by Herbal Papaya online. Their organic seed extract is also available.