Even if you're a huge papaya fan, you've most likely never given a second thought to those somewhat squishy, clear-coated black little seeds that are hiding inside such a delicious fruit. Well, if you happen to be dealing with parasites, you definitely want to think twice before throwing them away! Papaya seeds are absolute all-stars for expelling parasites from the body...a capability that is pretty rare to find in any food.
Intestinal parasites are more common than we realize, being that about one-third of the world’s population is infected with them. Intestinal parasites are notoriously difficult to diagnose because of the many different symptoms that can arise from a parasitic infection. For instance, gas, an itchy anus, bloating, fatigue, diarrhea, cramps, irritable bowel syndrome, mucous or blood in stools, and low immunity are just a few symptoms that can arise from an encounter with one of the many varieties. Parasites can also affect your mood and contribute to depression or anxiety.
How Do We Get Parasites?
Parasites can enter the body through water, food, intimate contact, mosquitoes, or through the nose or mouth after touching an animal or any contaminated surface such as a door nob. Raw fish (sushi), under-cooked meat (specifically pork) and even inadequately washed fruit and vegetables can hold the potential for contamination.
Some people who prepare food and do not wash their hands after going to the bathroom can share parasites with others. While this will totally gross you out, most unhealthy organisms are spread this way by fecal-oral contact. Consider for a moment everything that you touch daily that is touched by others— money, menus, door handles, salt and pepper shakers, etc. This is why it is important to wash your hands often!
How Do Papaya Seeds Work?
What makes the papaya seed so effective is that it contains anti-helminthic and anti-amoebic properties. In English this means that they kill off intestinal worms and other parasitic organisms in your digestive system.
When I first found out about the papaya seed's usefulness with parasites and worms I was intrigued and asked myself the usual question, “Sounds great, but does it really work?”. Well I’ll be darned if I didn’t discover that they actually work incredibly well.
So well that Nigerian pediatricians from Obafemi Awolowo University conducted a study in 2007 that included around 60 children who were diagnosed with intestinal worms after a stool test though they weren’t displaying any of the symptoms of this condition yet. In this pilot study, the doctors wanted to determine the effectiveness of papaya seeds and honey on intestinal worms.
The children were given a decoction of crushed papaya seeds and honey (20 ml) for seven days. The children were divided into two groups where one group was given a dose of air dried and crushed papaya seeds along with honey while the other was a placebo group. A week later, it was found that the stool samples 23 of the 30 children who were given the dose was completely cleared of parasites or the intestinal worms. This means around 77% of them responded to the treatment and no side effects were reported.
The doctors concluded that the consumption of dried papaya seeds is a cheap, natural, harmless and preventive strategy against intestinal worms[I]. This speaks to why these seeds are so useful, especially in third world countries where access to other medication may be limited.
Not Your After Dinner Mint
I wish I could tell you that these little guys taste like candy, but unfortunately they are far from being sweet or refreshing. Papaya seeds are very bitter and have a strong pepper-like taste that can be very overwhelming at first, so if you choose to use them, begin to incorporate them slowly. While they have very few side-effects, if you eat too many too fast it may be upsetting to your stomach.
Now before you go ahead and try these seeds, let's discuss the particular reasons why you might need them...
Using Papaya Seeds For Digestive Health
If you are using papaya seeds for digestive health, as they are rich in proteolytic enzymes, you don’t need very much. Start with one or two seeds to see how you do, then gradually increase that amount until you find a level that is comfortable for you. One-half to 1 teaspoon is a friendly amount that most people tolerate well on a daily basis.
The bitterness of papaya seeds stimulates digestion and since they are also very astringent in nature, they can decrease any intestinal inflammation and aid healing. Just be sure to eat the papaya seeds with a meal that is heavy in protein so that your tummy won’t have to work as hard.
A neat little tip is that papaya seeds can also be dried and added to your pepper grinder and used whenever you would use crushed peppercorn. I love crushed papaya seeds and use them often as a substitute for black pepper, in equal proportions. The taste of papaya seeds is a combination of bitter pepper and mustard, but is barely discernible when used in small amounts on top of other foods.
Using Papaya Seeds as a Parasite Treatment
If you are using papaya seeds for treating worms or parasites, they need to be taken in larger doses and are most effective when followed with a natural laxative to make sure that as many parasites as possible are expelled after the treatment.
There a couple of ways you could go about this:
The Straight Shooter
The easiest way to get the seeds down is to just swallow the seeds whole and let your stomach acids break them down. Dr. Jerry Lee Hoover, a N.D who lives in Nicaragua, recommends taking between 10 and 20 seeds twice daily [II].
However, some people are allergic to papaya seeds, so I really recommend starting with a very low dose first, 1 to 2 seeds, and then increasing your dose up to 10 or 20 twice daily. A larger person may need 20, whereas a petite woman may only need 10. If these upset your stomach, it’s ok to take them with food. If this is your preferred method, feel free to coat the seeds in honey. As Mary Poppins would say, “Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down”!
Take the seeds for a minimum of 7 and up to 10 days. Then one week later do it again for another 7 to 10 days. Two rounds ensure that you kill not only the parasites but also their eggs.
Take note that eating a high fiber diet with lots of water will help to carry out the dead parasites at a faster pace. Worms and parasites don’t like bitterness so sometimes the parasite may not be dead, but will seek a way out of the bitter environment in the stool. Lots of vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, and seeds are high fiber foods that bulk up the stool and keep things moving along.
The Indirect Method
If swallowing a handful of papaya seeds first thing in the morning isn’t your ideal way of starting the day, you can hide them in a breakfast smoothie, which will also ensure that you get your fiber and a handful of other bad-bug killers.
- Pumpkin seeds are good at paralyzing worms in the lower intestine. So even if the worm or parasite is not killed, it can be stunned and flushed out! Cool huh?
- Coconut oil is well known for it’s antimicrobial effects and is broken down into monolaurin, a compound that can help rid the body of parasites, ringworm, protozoa, and unhealthy bacteria and yeasts.
- Cloves are reportedly very good at eliminating parasite eggs and when used in combination with the digestive enzymes in this smoothie, may break down the coating that protects the intestinal worm’s eggs. Not to mention it makes the smoothie taste more interesting.
Papaya Seed Parasite Killing Smoothie Recipe
I recommend using a commercial blender for this recipe. If you do not have a commercial blender, grind the papaya seeds and cloves using a coffee grinder or mortar and pestle before adding to the blender. Also take note that the papaya seed dosage in this recipe is high, so be sure you test them for a few days prior to make sure you are not allergic or overly sensitive to them. It is always wise to start of with a smaller dose and increase gradually to ensure you are taking an amount that is comfortable for you.
1 small ripe organic papaya
½ cup fresh pineapple
¼ cup raw pumpkin seeds
1 (15oz) can coconut milk
1 tablespoon unrefined coconut oil
Cut a papaya in half and scoop out the seeds. Set aside. Cut the skin of the papaya away and place half of the papaya flesh in the blender. Add 2 tablespoons of the papaya seeds and the rest of the ingredients. Blend on high until all ingredients are blended with the seeds. Drink half the smoothie in the AM and the other half 12 hours later.
Papaya Seed Storage
Always purchase fresh papaya. The smaller and riper it is, the better. Ripe, small papayas produce milder seeds that won’t upset your tummy.
- Cut the papaya in half and scoop out the seeds. Spread the seeds out onto half of a clean dishtowel and fold the towel over. Rub the seeds between the towel to remove any remaining flesh from the seeds.
- Place the seeds in a colander and rinse them under running water. Spread them out on a dry towel to dry for a few days.
- You could also dry the seeds using a dehydrator.
- Store seeds in freezer in an airtight container. Papaya seeds can retain their nutritional value for six months or longer.
Keeping The Bowels Moving
If you do have parasites, replenishing your magnesium stores to the proper level can be one of the most beneficial steps you can take to ensure daily bowel movements and dispel anything that may be killed of by the papaya seeds.
Magnesium should be divided over at least two separate daily dosages. You will want to start with a low level of magnesium and build that level up slowly. You will be paying attention to when you start to get a loose stool. This is what is known as taking magnesium "to bowel tolerance."
A suggested protocol to increase your magnesium intake utilizing bowel tolerance would be as follows:
- 200 mg. of magnesium / 2 times a day for 4 days
- If tolerated at that level increase to 300 mg. of magnesium / 2 times a day for 4 days
- If tolerated at that level increase to 400 mg. / 2 times a day for 4 days
- If tolerated at that level increase to 500 mg. / 2 times a day
- If tolerated at that level increase to 600 mg. / 2 times a day
Once you reach a dosage beyond bowel tolerance (you experience loose stool or diarrhea) reduce your daily dose by 100-to 200-mg. per/day.
Clients often ask me if they will see the parasites or worms dispelled in their stool. Sometimes you can see the little buggers, but often they are too small or hidden in the bulk of the stool. Know that just because you don’t see them, doesn’t mean the treatment is not effective.
You may experience a worsening of symptoms before you feel better. This is commonly referred to as a "healing crisis" and these symptoms will most often pass. As always, before embarking on any new regimen consult a trusted healthcare professional.
Other Benefits of Eating Papaya Seeds
In addition to immune stimulating effects, the papaya leaf extract also appears to be effective against the dengue fever virus [III]. The seeds, as well as the juice from papaya leaves has been used extensively in Costa Rica to fight Dengue fever. Papaya seeds also appear to be effective against the Aedes mosquito itself, controlling dengue at the level of both transmission as well at the host.
Papaya seeds are known for their ability to help heal cirrhosis of the liver. Eating small amounts of Papaya seeds regularly may help in detoxing the liver and keep liver diseases at bay.
Papaya seeds are astringent in nature making them valuable and efficient in reducing inflammation, which makes them valuable for helping to alleviate arthritis, joint disease, swelling, pain, and redness.
Papaya seeds in small amounts have been shown to kill harmful bacteria like E. coli, Staph, and Salmonella. In Nigeria, papaya seeds with milk is used as a cure for Typhoid fever.
This effect of papaya seeds can either be a help or a hindrance depending on your perspective. Papaya seeds appear to be an excellent natural contraceptive for both men and women, without any side effects [IV]. For centuries, both men and women in the Indian subcontinent and in parts of Southeast Asia have traditionally used the papaya fruit and its seeds as a form of birth control!
For men, eating one teaspoon of fresh papaya seeds daily for three months can significantly reduce sperm production without affecting libido. Moreover, this effect is temporary because when papaya seeds are discontinued, fertility resumes.
Sensitive people: Papaya may cause severe allergic reactions and is therefore contraindicated in sensitive people.
Pregnancy/nursing: The seeds may possibly be unsafe depending on the part of the plant being used and dose administered.
Interactions: None well documented.
Side effects: Papaya may cause severe allergic reactions in sensitive people. Papaya latex can be a severe irritant and vesicant on skin. Papaya juice and papaya seeds are unlikely to cause adverse effects when taken orally; however, papaya leaves at high doses may cause stomach irritation.
Children: Additionally, while papaya seeds do have strong anti-parasitic properties, they may be too powerful for young children’s gastrointestinal tracts, so a doctor should be consulted before giving them to infants or children.
All in all, papaya seeds contain many healthful properties and can be incorporated into your diet in small amounts on a regular basis to aid digestion, or for short periods of time as a treatment for pesky parasites or worms. Even though the bitter taste is sometimes hard to stomach, their abilities are invaluable!
[I] Okeniyi JA1, Ogunlesi TA, Oyelami OA, Adeyemi LA. "Effectiveness of dried Carica papaya seeds against human intestinal parasitosis: a pilot study". J Med Food. 2007 Mar;10(1):194-6. Web. June. 2016. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17472487>.
[II] "Papaya: the natural way to kill parasites". May 2014. Web. June. 2016. <http://community.nicaraguadispatch.com/2014/05/11/papaya-the-natural-way-to-kill-parasites/>.
[III] Subenthiran S, Choon TC, Cheong KC, Thayan R, Teck MB, Muniandy PK, et al. "Carica papaya leaves juice significantly accelerates the rate of increase in platelet count among patients with dengue fever and dengue hemorrhagic fever". Evidence Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 616737. Web. June. 2016. <http://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2013/616737/>.