I FORSEE poor pawpaw fruit harvest in the future if, carelessly, Nigeria plunges into pawpaw leaf medicine without putting the horse before the cart. Many people are showing interest in pawpaw leaf tea, juice, vegetable salad garnish and as anti-malarial, among its many natural medicinal uses. In the housing estate where I live in Lagos, it is almost impossible nowadays to find a pawpaw plant growing outside a house with its full complement of leaves. The health food stores hardly stocks proprietary powder products of whole papaya (pawpaw) leaves, although the demand for it is growing. All you may easily find are pawpaw tablets or capsules. Papain is one of the proteolytic enzymes found in pawpaw leaves. Where some efforts has been made to ground dry pawpaw leaves into powder, some health store patriots who know about fungi, mold and afflatoxins (see w.w.w.olufemikusa.com) turn away from it as they did orange peel powder not produced under Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP).
Like all fruiting plants, seeding or tuber producing plants, the pawpaw plant needs its full complement of leaves. The chlorophyll in the green of these leaves helps to capture energy from sunlight and the air and synthesizes from these photo forces the fruits, seeds, nuts e.t.c that we humans enjoy as food or snack.
That is on the lighter note. On a more serious note, the Nigerian health conscious public has become more aware than before of the medicinal and food values of such previous food wastes as orange peel, banana peel, plantain peel, mango seed kernel and, now, the green leaves of pawpaw. Hitherto, the fallen, dried leaves of the male pawpaw plant (the non-fruiting one) enjoyed wide-spread reputation among herbalists as an anti-malarial, especially when boiled along with such equally reputable anti-malarials such as lemon grass, orange or lime or lemon peel.
My family has been aware of the health benefits of pawpaw leaves for more than 10 years, and our experiences with it have filtered from time to time into this column. Last year, I tried to grow about 30 pawpaw seedlings in the small garden of my house. But I lost about 26 of them because of the searing heat of the hot weather at that time. I have not given up. Two of the three seedlings which survived are female, and should soon begin to fruit. The last one is male, and provides me with its leaves as a food supplement which I enjoy now and then.
So how can you, too, enjoy pawpaw leaf as a food supplement for detoxification and other health benefits?
As many people prefer pawpaw leaf juice to eating the leaves with food, saying they are not animals, we may start with the positive impact of the juice on health. So, off to w.w.w.organichealthy.org we go:
“Papaya leaf juice can be a new and exciting thing to try and/or a perfect substitute for a smoothie or juice recipe not to mention the benefits you get from it are brilliant. It was found through studies that papaya leaf juice and its phytonutrient compounds act in synergy to display a strong antioxidant and immune-boosting impact throughout the body and blood stream. Papain, alkaloids and phenolic compounds are responsible for their positive biological effects.
The two biologically active components of the papaya are the enzymes papain and chymopapain. They aid with digestion and help treat problems such as: bloating, indigestion, and other digestion issues. Papaya leaf juice contains alkaloid compounds which help keep your body’s pH balance and reduce illness. The phenolic compounds, Caffeic acid, Chloregenic acid, Quercitin and Keampferol exhibit potent antioxidant effects. Calcium, Potassium, Sodium, Iron and Manganese are very abundant in papaya leaves”.
To the question of how the body benefits from them w.w.w.organic health.com offers about nine health advantages it confers. These, in its words, are…
“ONE: Blood platelet production. Maintaining a high level of blood platelet is extremely important after a serious illness, especially with diseases like Dengue that cause blood platelets to drop to dangerously low levels. The Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine found that papaya leaf juice significantly increases blood platelet production.
”TWO: Supports the liver. Due to the potent effect of papaya juice for the liver, it is the basis for the healing of many chronic diseases, especially of the liver, such as jaundice, liver cirrhosis and liver cancer.
“THREE: Prevents diseases. Papaya leaf juice contains Acetogenin that may be used to prevent many dangerous diseases, including Malaria, Dengue and Cancer. This supports the immune system and naturally fights viral and bacterial invaders in the body.
”FOUR: Boosts energy levels. Papaya leaf juice does such a good job of cleansing and healing that drinking it daily can help improve your energy levels and help you get started on the day more quickly. It could possibly be helpful for improving chronic fatigue.
“FIVE: Supports your digestive system. Papaya leaves contain Papain, Chymopapain, Protease and amylase enzymes that are helpful in properly breaking down proteins, carbs and helpful with digestion. Individuals with digestive disorders may find this juice healing and help regulate the digestive system. This very potent anti-microbial juice reduces inflammation of the stomach lining and heals peptic ulcers by killing harmful bacteria such as the H.phylori bacteria. This healing process may also reduce colon inflammation form inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs)
“SIX: minimizes inflammation. Inflammation is a common side-effect of illnesses and allergies. The anti-inflammatory properties in papaya leaf juice is helpful for reducing inflammation and possibly also reduce chemotherapy side effects.
“SEVEN: Regulates menstrual disorders. Drinking papaya leaf juice may regulate PMS symptoms and possibly regulate menstruation cycles due to its very potent healing properties that balance the hormone
“EIGHT: Protects cardiovascular health. The powerful antioxidants in papaya leaves boost the immune system, greatly improves blood circulation, dilates vessels and protects heart health from strokes and diseases.
“NINE: Naturally lowers blood sugar levels. Papaya leaf juice improves insulin sensitivity that helps regulate blood sugar levels. The high antioxidant content is helpful to decrease the secondary complications of diabetes such as fatty liver, kidney damage and greatly reduces oxidative stress.
As stated last Thursday, about 40 per cent of food stuff sold in Nigerian markets are yeast and mold contaminated and, therefore, prone to Aflatoxins poisoning of the many Aflatoxins molecules identified so far, Aflatoxins B1- is the most toxic of animal and human health. In humans, it concentrates in the liver, causing cancer of the liver. It damages the reproductive system, causing infertility in men and women. It damages the Central Nervous System (CNS), causing tremor and even seizures. It unbalances the hormonal system, disrupts immunity and causes HIV/AIDS. There is hardly any damage Aflatoxins do not cause. Mention of them becomes frightening when we remember that yeast, mold and Aflatoxins have been found in Nigerian beans, maize groundnuts (peanuts), dry fish, palm oil, yam and potatoes, melon among other foods. One more I would like to mention today is raw pap. Many women grind maize to make raw pap which they keep in the kitchens or freezers for days or weeks. They cover the top with water. Every morning, they drain the water off and replace it, believing this keeps the raw pap fresh and safe. But if they are careful enough, they would notice some blackish or greenish dots on the water they are draining off. These are signs of yeast or mold presence and possibility of Aflatoxins contamination.
To flush out Aflatoxins from the body, it would be necessary, first to eliminate yeast and mold. There are many herbs which can do this, sometimes over, say one year, because they multiply rapidly. The Rain Tree group has a proprietary blend of them named MYCO, which I often suggest for myco plasma detoxification when this product and similar ones, are engaged, it is important to add large amounts of anti-oxidants to the therapy. The reason is that when a large number of these organisms get killed, their “corpses” or debris unload a large amount of free radicals on the system which may initially worsen the condition been treated terms of symptoms escalation. This is known as the “die off effects”. Antioxidants helps to reduce this experience. The next stage, of course, is the support to be given to the organs of detoxification (the liver, lungs, kidneys, skin and bowels) which get damage by high aflatoxins load. If the aflatoxins load they bear is minimized, the possibility exists that they may carry on with their living functions without signs of Aflatoxins distress. This is where pawpaw leaf juice therapy enters the picture as a readily available, cheap or free medicine.
According to the website w.w.w.stylecraze.com: “The greatest anti-cancer properties of papaya are concentrated in its leaf extract. According to a research conducted by the Journal of Ethanol pharmacology, papaya leaf juice contains certain enzymes that have dramatic cancer-fighting properties against a wide range of tumors such as cervix cancer, breast cancer, lungs cancer, and pancreatic cancer without any toxic effects on the body. As a result, papaya leaf extract is often recommended as part of chemotherapy in some parts of the world. By regulating the T-cells, the papaya leaf extract increases the immune system response to cancer. Papaya leaf juice contains about 50 active ingredients, including the karpain compounds that inhibit micro- organisms such as fungi, worms, parasites, bacteria as well as many forms of cancer cells. It is often used in herbal medicine to remove intestinal worms as it contains tannin that protect the intestine from re-infection from tannin proteins in the lining of the intestinal wall. This way, the worms cannot attach themselves. They are effective in suppressing the cause of typhoid fever. The website w.w.w.communityomtimes.com: “The university of Florida did studies showing that Papaya leaves contains agents that kill cancer, especially cervix, prostate, liver, breast and lung cancer. The more concentrated the tea, the better the result and there are no side effects of any kind. Down through history in Australia, the aborigines have talked about Papaya leaf tea as a great cancer healing agent, also in Asia and other places. Most recommended taking 10 leaves, cutting them up and boiling them in a half gallon water until it boils down to quart, then left to cool. The tea will keep in the fridge for two days in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. Drink as much as possible. Papaya leaf tea enhances chemotherapy and helps with chemotherapy side effects.
“Papaya leaf tea cures thrombocytopenia or low platelets counts which keeps a person from clothing. There have been many studies showing that papaya leaf tea can increase platelet count in cases of vitamin deficiency, chemotherapy, dengue fever and many more.”
There are many more health benefits of pawpaw leaf that have not been mentioned here simply not because they are unimportant but because they appear remote to some of the problems often associated with fungi, mold and aflatoxin damage. The website w.w.w.healthbenefits.com says:
“If you are experiencing some symptoms like fever, skin rash, headache, muscle and joint pains, you are probably suffering from Dengue. But that is the common one. If you are experiencing any dangerous symptoms like, blood plasma leakages, low platelet count and bleeding, you are probably suffering from the dangerous disease called hemorrhagic fever. Dengue fever is a deadly disease caused by the virus called Aedes mosquito. Some studies as indicate that papaya leaves contains enzymes like chemopapain and Papain that can boost and normalize the platelet count and the liver damage caused by Dengue disease and then it also will add the recovery form Dengue disease.”
I foresee many pawpaw plants in urban Nigerian cities, such as Lagos, becoming leafless when the vogue of pawpaw leaf tea and pawpaw leaf juice sweep through the country. All country people should have no problem with steady supply of fresh pawpaw leaves. Places such as Lagos which are concrete cities will pay through the nose for theirs. In some cases, the consumers may even end up with yeast and mold infected pawpaw leaves.
Meanwhile, pawpaw leaf’s healing powers continue to make the news in various part of the world. University of Florida researcher Nam Dang, from Vietnam, and colleague have documented in the Journal of ethmophamacology finding of papaya leaf extract. Showed anti-cancer effects against tumors of the cervix, breast, liver, lung and pancreas. The findings agree with folklore medicine in his native Vietnam. They use extracts from dry papaya leaves and obtained stronger effects when they used larger dosages. Their extracts were reported to boost production of “key signaling molecule called Th 1-type cytokines, which help regulate the immune system to fight cancers”. Through the University of Tokyo, Dang and his colleagues have applied for a patent for their work. Dr. Nam H.Dang, M.D., Ph.D., is a board certified medical oncologist with expertise in the study and treatment of lymphoma and chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). He is a professor and deputy chief of the division of hematology and oncology as well as Director of the University of Florida Shands Cancer Center Clinical Trials Office”. For the patent, he is partnering with Hendricks Luesch, Ph.D., a fellow UF Shands Cancer Center member and a professor of medicinal chemistry. Luesch is an expert in the identification and synthesis of natural products for medicinal purposes and recently discovered a coral-reef compound that inhibits cancer cell growth in cell lines.”
Ladies and gentlemen, the table is set and now let us mince pawpaw leaves with our meals. Are you listening, Ladun Runsewe, Abayomi Adepoju, Razak GRA Akande, Gboyega Ige, Akin Orebiyi, Kola Ogunmola, Bukola Azeez, Francesca Omolara Bello, Yahaya Saida, Irene Akintoye. ..?