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Papaya as Wound Healer and Skin Agent

Page history last edited by ecop 12 years, 6 months ago



Papaya as Wound Healer and Skin Agent


By: David Chun



Description and Rationale



Papaya is one of the most popular tropical fruits of the Philippines. Most people eat papaya as a snack, dessert, or even as a meal because it is both delicious and nutritious, containing lots of nutrients such as vitamin C and papain. Papain is an enzyme contained in the green papaya fruit and the leaves of the papaya tree. Papain has been used as a natural meat tenderizer and today is an ingredient in many commercial meat tenderizers.


What is the papaya’s impact on the local ecology? Is it just consumed by humans and animals as food? Does it provide enough nutrients for people to remain healthy and not get sick? How does papaya affect the local Filipinos’ livelihood that depends on the small amount of salary they earn from selling them? Do papaya fruits carry diseases that might infect other organisms? Can papayas grow in harsh environment? Is there a specific reason why papaya should be recommended as a “main” fruit?


Might there be new ways to utilize papaya for medicine or livelihood?

Recent observations of people with skin problems and youth all over the Philippines, including Baguio, Manila, Angeles, and Palawan, show that papaya is used as facial massage packs. Its tenderizing properties are also being applied to the human body through injection. But what are the reasons for this regard and utilization? How much is based on experience and scientific observations and how much is based on notion or assumption? If more beneficial uses of papaya are found, such as medicine for healing and prevention, fertilizer, livestock feed, or other livelihood-enhancing ventures, what would be the best way(s) to communicate the findings to the people? 


The fundamental purpose of this project will be to research the biology and ecology of papaya growing, primarily in the forests or papaya farms, through a search of literature as well as firsthand observations and interviews with people who utilizes or experienced growing papaya. These fundamental findings will help guide the experimental phase, where key variables of the papaya’s other usefulness will be further explored.


It is hoped that new uses of papaya might help improve the livelihood of the Filipino people living all over the Philippines through a more informed understanding of an abundant biological resource.






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Common Names and Synonyms


Papaya is also called the Carica papaya. To papaya farmers, it’s also known as papaw or pawpaw, since there are some other types of papayas that are slightly different by shape and taste. Also, the pronunciation of the word, papaya, slightly differs by where it originates from. Other synonyms include Papaya (Philippines); Asimina (America); Mugua (China); Lechosa (Spain).



                Kingdom: Plantae

                Phylum: Tracheophyta

Class: Magnoliopsida (flowering plants)

Order: Brassicales (flowering plants that can produce oil compounds

Family: Caricaseae (trees with milky juice and large palmately lobed leaves)

Genus: Carica (chiefly tropical trees that includes the papaya)

Species: C. papaya (tropical shrub or small tree having huge deeply palmately cleft leaves and large oblong yellow fruit.







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Morphology and Physical Description


Commonly referred to as a tree, the plant is a large herb growing from 6 to 10 ft the first year and reaching 20 or even 30 ft in height, with a hollow green or deep-purple stem becoming 12 to 16 inches or thicker at the base and roughened by leaf scars. The leaves emerge directly from the upper part of the stem in a spiral on nearly horizontal petioles 1 to 3 1/2 ft long, hollow, succulent, green or more or less dark purple. The blade, deeply divided into 5 to 9 main segments, each irregularly subdivided, varies from 1 to 2 ft in width and has yellowish ribs and veins. Both the stem and leaves contain copious white milky latex (tinted covering).

The 5-petalled flowers are fleshy, waxy and slightly fragrant. Some plants bear only short-stalked pistillate (female) flowers, waxy and white; or hermaprodite (perfect) flowers (having female and male organs), white with bright-yellow anthers and borne on short stalks; while others may bear only staminate (male) flowers, clustered on panicles to 5 or 6 ft long.

Generally, the fruit is melon-like, oval to nearly round, somewhat elongated club-shaped, 6 to 20 inches long and 4 to 8 inches thick; weighing up to 9 kg. Naturalized plants bear miniature fruits 1 to 6 inches long. The skin is waxy and thin but fairly tough. When the fruit is green and hard it is rich in white latex. As it ripens, it becomes light or deep yellow externally and the thick wall of succulent flesh becomes aromatic, yellow, orange or various shades of red. It is then juicy, sweetish and somewhat like a melon in flavor; in some types quite musky. Attached lightly to the wall by soft, white, fibrous tissue, are usually numerous small, black, ovoid, corrugated, peppery seeds about 3/16 inches long, each coated with a transparent, gelatinous aril.




Papaya is now cultivated in most tropical countries. In cultivation, it grows rapidly, fruiting within 3 years. It is, however, highly frost sensitive. Papayas are grown in regions where light frosts are experienced. It prefers a warm climate and rich, well-drained soil. In order for papayas to grow, it needs an ample amount of sunlight. Papaya trees need water for their development but not too much, because it might develop root rot (type of disease).It grows best on hammock soils, but it is also successful on "high pine" lands if properly fertilized. In some regions the plant has become thoroughly naturalized and springs up wherever a clearing is made, the seeds being scattered by birds and other agencies.


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A papaya tree uses sexual reproduction since it is a flowering plant. The tree can be either male or female or both. Only the hermaphrodite (female) plant will fruit. The fruit contains seeds. The papaya tree is reproduced when an animal or a consumer “sends it out” after it eats the papaya in another place. Another way a papaya tree reproduces is by pollination of the flowers. The development in the life cycle of the papaya tree is very rapid, but it is a short lived tree. In order for the papaya tree to develop healthy, it needs a good organic pesticide, since it is prone to tree diseases.


Environmental Factors


Papaya trees grow in tropical regions where a sufficient amount of sunlight is provided. It is best adapted to tropical atmosphere temperature between 15 to 35 °C.


There are several disease organisms that may use papaya as a host. These include maribo, brown spot, Lasiodiplodia fruit rot, Nivum Haamir dieback, root-knot nematode, yellow crinkle, and papaya ring spot. Competitors of these disease organisms are animals and other types of fungal and bacterial viruses.


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Origin and Distribution


The origin of papaya is unknown, but the papaya is believed native to tropical America, perhaps in southern Mexico and neighboring Central America. It is recorded that seeds were taken to the Philippines a long time ago, since they had the perfect environment for the delicious papayas to grow in. Papaya tree has been able to survive in a variety of tropical environments at 15 to 35 °C atmospheric temperature.


Importance to People


Papaya has been introduced to several tropical countries, including the Philippines. Papaya farming is now cultured in the Central American nations as well as some Asian countries. Papaya fruit is one of the most popular tropical fruits in the world. Papaya is also popular as a wound healer for emergent incidents and for healing skin problems.


Selling papaya as a food does not help the local Filipinos’ livelihood by a lot, but it is a great value in the trade with lots of countries around the world since it can be made into shampoo, conditioner, body wash, facial cleanser, massage pack, and soap. Fortunately, there are no big concerns locally in the Philippines about the papaya.


There are several intriguing ideas about using the abundant wild papaya as a resource. Carica Herbal Health Products, INC. is experimenting and developing with using papaya as a skin facial massage pack and trouble-care cleansers. Also, the guides of a large forest in Subic have found that papaya can be used as an emergent wound healer.


Survivability and Endangered Status


Papaya tree isn’t endangered at all. Even though there are lots of competitors for the papaya fruit, the consumers pollinate and transfer the seed to other places and there are lots of seeds in a single papaya fruit. Some concerns of the old ages were the bacterial and fungal viruses but nowadays there are good organic pesticides which protect the trees.   


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Potential Solutions


Possibility 1 Health Products


A papaya product company in the Philippines, the Carica Herbal Health Products Incorporation, grew papaya in an environment free of chemical and industrial pollution. After experimenting and observing the Carica papaya fruit, they discovered and made health products starting from 2006. The company is certified for its production of Carica syrup, Carica granules, and also products such as papaya soap, body wash, and facial cleansers. It was found that other plants like, aloe and roses have already been made into health products on a commercial basis.



                    1. Unnecessary spending (money) would be lessened for poor families in several different ways. If the Filipinos

                        directly made natural health products such as shampoo, body wash, facial cleanser, and soap, they could save

                        money for transportation as well as the fee for the hospital check up and spending at the market.


                    2. Papaya is a common tropical fruit in the Philippines; the local Filipinos would be able to easily purchase

                        papaya anywhere. Currently a papaya fruit is about 50 pesos (US $1.03) in the local markets. Also, if they can

                        purchase papaya from a papaya farm, they could save about 15 pesos. They can also benefit from eating papaya

                        syrup and granule because papaya contains lots of nutrients, especially papain.



                    1. The process of making papaya into another beneficial product takes quite a bit of time and work. They also need

                        to have a safe place where the papaya wouldn’t be harmed, since insects or other predators will try to consume



                    2. In order for the products to be successfully made, the environment is sometimes important because for making

                        solid soaps, they need sunlight so that the liquid form of papaya can be dried and converted.(Look at the 

                        brochure, where it explains the process of papaya.)





                                                                                                       Liquid Form of the Papaya Soap



Possibility 2 Wound Healer


You don’t know where and when you might get injured. Sometimes, especially for the local Filipinos that are living in the provincial areas of the Philippines, are not capable of immediately going to the hospital after a sudden accident occurs. When this happens, why not heal the wound by saving some papaya wound healers before the accident occurs?



                    1. “Enzymes in the fresh papaya inactive man-of-war and stingray poisons when applied to a wound. The same

                        enzyme makes fresh papaya a good meat tenderizer and prevents papaya jello from gelling,” says Dr. Ingrid

                        Kohlstadt, a professional nutritionist who studied about health and ingredients. This proves that papaya has a

                        great effect in healing wounds as well as poisons.


                    2. Spending of money would be lessened, since the poor local Filipino families wouldn’t have to pay for the

                        surgeries if the wound was lethal to human life. (The papaya wound healer would refresh the poison, if the injury

                        was poisonous.)




                    1. The simple, portable wound healer wouldn’t be able to heal serious injuries. Also, papaya wound healer can’t

                        detoxify all poison.


                    2. If the papaya wound healer isn’t kept in a safe place, fungi and other organisms might invade and consume it.




















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