The papaya plant bears a versatile fruit that is eaten both ripe and unripe. Young papaya leaves are eaten like a vegetable in some cuisines, and papaya leaf tea has a variety of purported medicinal effects.
Papaya leaf tea might prove effective as a cancer preventative and treatment, according to a study published in the "Journal of Ethnopharmacology." The researchers said that the results of their preliminary study indicate the immune-modulating properties of papaya leaf tea may prove to useful in treatment and prevention of diseases, including cancer, allergies and as a component in some vaccines.
Papaya leaf tea protected against gastric ulcer in a study on laboratory animals published in the "West Indian Medical Journal." In the study, papaya leaf extract reduced ulcer severity and showed strong antioxidant effects. Researchers concluded from this preliminary study that papaya leaf tea shows potential for the treatment of gastric ulcer and oxidative stress on the stomach.
The enzyme papain in papaya leaves assists in the digestion of proteins and is useful for treating gastrointestinal disorders. Papaya leaf tea can alleviate heartburn discomfort and is an appetite stimulant. Papaya leaf tea may also help digest the wheat protein gluten, which is difficult for some people to digest and causes an autoimmune condition known as coeliac disease. This area still needs more research, so people with coeliac disease should not use papaya leaves to treat their condition.
The enzyme papain in papaya leaf has been known to cause allergic reactions in some people, according to a study published in the journal "Ugeskrift for Laeger." The report documented a breakout of allergic symptoms in 10 out of 22 employees at a research laboratory who were exposed to papain dust. The workers developed symptoms of itchy eyes and runny nose. Improved hygienic conditions and proper ventilation solved the problem.