Commonly seen as an exotic fruit rather than a weekly shop staple, perhaps we’re missing a trick with papaya  – the flesh, skin, seeds and stem of this exotic fruit have been used in traditional medicine for many years.

Papaya was reputedly called the ‘fruit of the angels’ by Christopher Columbus and is a rich source of the protein-digesting enzymes papain and chymopapain. It also contains a wide range of vitamins, minerals and numerous other active components too. Papain is considered to be so powerful that it can digest 200 times its own weight in protein; it also retains its activity over a wide pH range.

Its powerful protein-digesting activity makes papaya useful as an effective natural digestive support. It also has a regulative effect on the digestive system – supporting natural peristalsis and facilitating regular bowel movements. Symptoms such as gas, bloating, loose stools or a tendency towards constipation may all benefit from the addition of papaya into the daily regime. The enzymes of the papaya fruit are also reported to have significant anti-bacterial activity.

There are obvious benefits of including more papaya into your diet, however there are times when a more therapeutic dose may be required. In this case, a specially prepared pureed papaya extract may deliver added benefits. Two unpublished trials have found that a carefully prepared papaya puree can be very useful in support of patients with chronic constipation for both the reduction of use of laxatives and for decreased number of days without bowel movement.

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