Papaw Fruit

Papaw and Papaya (both members of the Carica Papaya species)  originate from  South America where they have been used for centuries to cure boils, tenderize meat, prevent pregnancy and for general nutrition.  With such an intriguing list of attributes we just wanted to find out more so, to help us work out what’s what we need to take a walk through a bit of papaw chemistry. 

Papain Enzyme. 

Enzymes make things happen, they are the little bit of magic (proteins)  that starts reactions in living things. Enzymes work like a key only fitting and un-locking certain reactions. They are also highly sensitive to heat, light and pH and often stop working when their environment becomes hostile.  So what does Papain enzyme do? 

  • Papain is great at breaking down the proteins in meat and other foodstuffs and for that reason it is a great digestive aid. 
  • Topically Papain enzyme at a concentration of 0.2%  was found to promote desquamation of the skin (Brazilian Journal of Pharmaceutical Science) meaning that it acts as a chemical exfoliant or peel in low doses.
  • Due to its ability to break down tissue gently Papain is often used to treat open wounds such as ulcers. Papain breaks down dead skin  thus preventing it from becoming “infection food”.
  • Papain is often seen in skin lightening formulations as part of the mix of actives.  While papain can lighten the skin to some degree its ability to do this has more to do with its exfoliation properties than its ability to stop melanin synthesis.

Vitamin ACE.  

OK so everyone known that  vitamin ACE is great for your face (and we are what we eat) so this super-fruit packs a mighty punch. It contains more vitamin C per 100g that we need in a day and is also rich in vitamin A (via the carotene’s ) and Vitamin  B (Niacin) both of which are essential for healthy skin and hair.  Papaw also contains around 20% of your daily dose of Vitamin E – great for building up a strong skin barrier and keeping oxidative stress at bay. 

As with most fruits the benefits of these vitamins are best captured through regular eating. However, the odd freshly made up face cream would not go amis!  Introducing anti-oxidants into your skin care regimen are a great way to counteract pollution, the effects of too much sun and the passing of time. Anti-ageing from nature. 

Seeds of Joy. 

Papaw Seeds


The beautiful little black seeds can be dried, pulverized and then used in place of pepper to season meals. They could also be dried and used as the scrub in your body and foot products for that all natural glow. 

The Down Side. 

Well Papaw does seem to be one of those ‘not to be missed’ beauty fruits for outside and in but there is some room for caution. The Papaw enzyme Papain has been shown to cause irritation in some people and so care should be taken when you first start using this – a case of ‘more’ not necessarily being better. On the other hand, it is often used in anti-itch creams so I guess that while some skins love it, others find it unbearable. 

The fruit has also been used for many years as a natural contraceptive in some countries and while I wouldn’t bank on it working that way for you, it is worth noting that to do that the fruit has to act upon your hormones – strong stuff.  

Also, as the fruit contains vitamin A it is worth going easy with it whilst pregnant as too much vitamin A during pregnancy can lead to birth defects (I am guessing that you would have to eat a lot of papaw though)

Finally, anything that can peel skin will leave skin more sensitive to the sun. While this effect may only be very small it is worth keeping some sun cream at hand.