The papaya is packed with vitamins and enzymes that soothe the body both internally and topically. Advanced biochemical technology is used to distill the desirable papain enzyme from the papaya fruit to create a powdered extract that can be used in a wide variety of applications, from beer clarifiers to skin care products and spot removers. Papaya extract is also used in the feed, leather and textile industries.
While the leaves of the tropical papaya fruit have been used for decades in meat tenderizing products, the extract of the papaya fruit is commonly used to help aid digestion, boost immune function and offer anti-aging benefits. Papayas contain the proteolytic enzyme papain, as do pineapples, kiwi fruit and figs. These enzymes assist in the digestion of proteins, such as meat, dairy products and nuts. Proteins take longer to digest than fruits and vegetables, leading devotees of natural health supplements to chew papaya tablets before eating protein, or any large meal, for that matter. Papaya is a popular palate cleanser during multi-course, gourmet meals, to aid fine diners in digesting the many combinations of vegetables, starches, proteins and dairy products. Fresh papaya and papaya extract offer relief for digestive maladies like heartburn, indigestion or inflammatory bowel syndrome, as the enzyme papain has the ability to break down proteins.
Papayas are more readily available than ever in grocery store produce departments. Eating the orange flesh of one papaya can offer more vitamin C than an orange, as well as a day's supply of vitamin A and potassium. Papaya extract tablets, also nutritious, are commonly taken by those suffering from symptoms of indigestion. The extract eases gas and bloating, and helps boost nutrient assimilation from food.
An anti-aging supplement was created decades ago by Japanese scientists who realized that individuals with regular amounts of papaya in their diets experienced health benefits. The researchers created fermented papaya preparation, which is made of the slippery, melon-textured fruit that has been slowly fermented with specific yeasts and dried into a powder. It has been touted as a superior anti-oxidant, powerful immune-booster and "one of Japan's secrets to a long and healthy life," according to Dr. Holly Lucille, a California-based naturopathic doctor. More than 30 studies on the supplement have been conducted in Japan to determine if the chemistry of papaya can boost an individual's longevity. Research has shown that papaya fermented with yeast can slowly increase the strength of certain white blood cells that eradicate the body of harmful viruses and bacteria. It also revealed that the use of this supplement helps rid the body of harmful free radicals.
The enzyme papain not only helps internal functions, placement on the skin overnight has also been known to help some skin disorders. The same protein-dissolving enzymes that soothe indigestion can also dissolve unwanted skin growths, such as corns and warts. Apply the fruit, or just the juice, to the affected area four times daily. When a papaya is cut in half, the small, black seeds, which look like caviar, are surrounded by dense, juicy fruit. These seeds are similar in taste to mustard seeds, and are usually tossed out with the skin of the fruit, which is a yellowish color when ripe. But there is a use for the spicy seeds. Peruvian Choco Indians have been known to eat a dozen of the seeds to rid their bodies of parasites and worms.
Papaya extract can be found in almost any store that sells supplements. Because it is taken for indigestion--a common ailment for pregnant women--it should be noted that some manufacturers warn against taking the supplement during pregnancy. Slightly unripe papayas contain a latex substance that is believed to trigger uterine contractions and may lead to early labor, or miscarriage. Researchers have noted that unripe papaya latex is like prostaglandin and oxytocin, which encourages labor. Synthetic prostaglandin and oxytocin are often used to start or strengthen labor contractions. Avoid fresh papaya early in a pregnancy, unless it is perfectly ripe.