Earlier I introduced Papaya as a ‘superfood’ having the potential to beat cancer. In that post I mentioned the use of Papaya tea made from the papaya leaves. Let’s take a more detailed look at how Papaya Leaf Tea benefits cancer patients and those undergoing chemotherapy.
General Health Benefits of Papaya Tea
Papaya is a delicious tropical fruit with many health benefits, but not many people know that the leaves also possess tremendous healing and anti-aging properties that treat many ailments and maintain health and vitality.
Modern day research is starting to discover the healing potential of papaya, but the papaya leaf has been used by indigenous people for centuries to counter indigestion and heartburn, women have used it to relieve menstrual pain. As a tea it can be used to increase appetite, relieve constipation, and boost the immune system. It also helps to boost blood platelet count which is essential for those who have contracted dengue fever, a tropical disease transmitted by mosquitoes.
Papaya leaf tea provides a natural boost of essential vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, vitamin D, niacin, calcium, potassium, manganese, iron and magnesium. Papaya leaf is also contains flavonoids, including papain, which offer antioxidant properties.
How Papaya Tea May Help Fight Cancer
Dr Nam Dang, a haematologist and oncologist, at the University of Florida, conducted research with a Japanese team of researchers to determine the effects of papaya leaf against a number of types of cancer. The team found that papaya leaf extract demonstrated significant inhibition of cancer cell growth by boosting the production of key signalling molecules called Th1-type cytokines. These are T-helper cells (abbreviated as Th) which are a part of our immune system. They are a type of white blood cell that recognises and fights against foreign pathogens in our body.
Dr Nam Dang and his team observed that the cancer cells were effectively killed off by the papaya leaf extract and concluded that this may potentially provide a way for the prevention and treatment and prevention of selected cancer as well as many other diseases.
Relief During Chemotherapy
Papaya tea helps to boost blood platelets, boost the immune system, and increase appetite; these are all essential to help relieve some of the side effects of chemotherapy.
‘Thrombocytopeania’ is the clinical name for reduced platelets in the blood, this is just one of the side effects experienced by patients undergoing chemotherapy. A recently published research paper discussed the effect of papaya leaf extracts on chemotherapy induced thrombocytopaenia. 30 patients with low blood platelet count and 30 control subjects were each given 2 capsules of papaya leaf extract twice daily over a period of 5 days, and the plate level levels checked. The researchers concluded that
CP leaf extract capsules demonstrated a clinically and statistically noteworthy outcome in raising platelet count on chemotherapy induced thrombocytopaenia”
Obviously, as with Dr Nam Dang, more research is required to determine the exact mechanisms of how papaya is working against cancer, but it would seem there is strong potential.
Susceptibility to infections is another potentially serious side effect caused by chemotherapy as the immune system becomes increasingly compromised.
In addition to the findings of Dr Nam Dang (see above), another study found that the phytonutrient compounds in papaya leaves act in synergy to enhance the immune system in the bloodstream.
How to Prepare Papaya Leaf Tea
The traditional method for those living in tropical regions is simply to chop the leaves and boil in water, this can easily be done at home.
There are many ‘recipes’ available on the internet but the simplest way is take a dried papaya leaf, (preferably organic and pesticide free), place into a one litre sealable jug or jar and add boiling water. Depending on the strength of the resultant tea, you may want to only fill a cup half way and then top up with boiling water according to taste. The balance of the tea remaining in the jar may also be topped up.
The tea has a slightly bitter flavour similar to that of Chinese tea but adding a little honey will improve the taste if you need a sweeter taste.
If you’re living in the Western hemisphere or in colder countries, papaya leaf tea is now becoming available in health stores and pharmacies, either as loose-leaf tea or in teabags. Again you should always look for the organic teas, this reduces or eliminates the chances of contamination from harmful pesticides.
One such tea that I highly recommend is the organic papaya leaf tea from Herbal Papaya. These teas are manufactured in the USA at a facililty that has been inspected by the FDA. The products are certified organic by the USDA and also Kosher certified. All of their papaya products are from organic, non-GMO papaya trees.
They offer two options, either as a loose-leaf tea, or alternatively,individually packed teabags, this helps to maintain the freshness of each serving, ensuring the fresh, full flavor of a truly natural tea in every cup.