Are papaya seeds an effective treatment for parasitic infections?

By December 21, 2023 Health, Science

We came across a post on X insinuating that papaya seeds are a cure for intestinal parasites. The post includes a TikTok video that promotes the alleged benefits of consuming papaya seeds such as maintaining a healthy gut, getting rid of parasites, and cleansing the colon.

Are there harmful parasites in our bodies?

Parasitic infections are usually caused by the consumption of contaminated water or food and are more typical in impoverished areas or warmer climates. These parasites typically target the intestinal tract, and common symptoms of a parasitic infection include diarrhea and vomiting.

Parasitic infections are less common in Singapore due to the high standards of hygiene and sanitation. However, there is still a risk of possible infections when we travel overseas.

Can papaya seeds be consumed?

Papayas are commonly consumed without their seeds. However, the seeds are edible and contain nutrients such as antioxidants and fiber. Unlike the flesh of the papaya which is usually sweet, papaya seeds have a pepper-like flavour.

Although papaya seeds are edible, overconsumption could lead to undesired side effects. As papaya seeds contain soluble fiber, a sharp increase in consumption of papaya seeds could lead to an unexpected spike in fiber intake, which may cause complications such as nausea and abdominal cramps.

Some studies conducted on animals also suggest that high dosages of papaya seeds could lead to decreased fertility. However, more research is necessary to determine the effects on human fertility.

Papaya seeds and their effects on parasites

The various parts of papayas such as the fruit, leaves, and seeds have been utilised in traditional medicine, prompting further research on their properties and effects. For example, papaya leaf extract has long been used as a cure for dengue, and papaya seed extract has been used by traditional healers as a dewormingtreatment.

Research suggests that papaya seeds have properties that might treat parasitic illnesses, in particular intestinal parasites. While many studies have been conducted on animals, large-scale studies on the effects of papaya seeds on humans are lacking.

A 2007 study in Nigeria on 60 children found that papaya seeds could be an effective means of treatment for asymptomatic infections but cited the need for further research to compare its effectiveness against antiparasitic drugs.

Subsequently, a 2018 study in Kenya on 326 schoolchildren found that papaya seeds could make them more resilient to parasitic infections after the seeds were introduced into their diet. However, as participants in the study were only infected with 1 type of intestinal parasite – roundworms – the efficacy of papaya seeds as a cure against other types of intestinal parasites such as hookworms remains unclear. In addition, the researchers found that antiparasitic drugs still had higher success in curing parasitic infections compared to papaya seeds.

The 2018 study was also unable to determine the most effective dose and frequency of dose of papaya seeds to cure intestinal parasites.

As these studies were conducted on a relatively small scale, more evidence is needed before concluding that papaya seeds are a safe and effective treatment for all forms of intestinal parasites.

Therefore, while papaya seeds are nutritious and may be effective in getting rid of some forms of intestinal parasites depending on the dose consumed, it is unclear if they might be a safe cure for all forms of intestinal parasites. When in doubt, it is safer to consult licensed medical professionals to diagnose and be prescribed the necessary treatment to combat illnesses.

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