Fight cancer with the part of this tropical plant that’s thrown away

May 4, 2010
Volume 07    |   Issue 19

Our ancestors knew that plants can heal. They used all parts for food and healing. In some cases, we use only the parts we know are edible, discarding the rest. This may be shortsighted, because there are some healthful qualities in the parts we throw away.

Take the papaya. We eat its ripe fruit and use its unripe skin. The fruit is a food high in antioxidants, potassium, folate, and vitamin A. Its green skin is inedible, but it’s high in papain, an enzyme that helps digest protein. Many digestive enzyme formulas use papain as an ingredient.

However, most growers usually throw the leaf of the papaya away. But that’s changing. Now we’re finding that papaya leaf tea is a powerful immune-system regulator. And it also has antitumor effects on a number of cancers with an additional and unusual benefit. It doesn’t harm normal cells.

Vietnamese-born Nam Dang, MD, PhD noticed and documented this effect for the first time in a paper the Journal of Ethnopharmacology (February 17, 2010) recently published. He had seen and heard that indigenous people from Vietnam and Australia could drink papaya leaf tea without experiencing any toxicity.

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Then his team of researchers tested four different strengths of papaya leaf extract on 10 different kinds of cancer cells. They found that all of the extracts slowed the growth of all tumors.

Dang is now looking for the specific compounds in papaya extract that are effective against cancer cells. It’s the next step in developing an anti-cancer drug. That’s where the money is. Meanwhile, since there’s no observable toxicity in drinking papaya leaf tea, you may want to drink a cup or two a day. All of us have cancer cells in our bodies. They’re just not necessarily active. It looks like using the extract of papaya leaves has no downside. You can find papaya leaf extract on the Internet.

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