The pawpaw plant is a native of South America, where it was cultivated since Pre-Columbian times. There are 22 plants and trees in the pawpaw genus; the most famous of which is Carica papaya. Pawpaw (Carica Papaya) reached Europe in 1690 and Asia in the 18th Century. Pawpaw is now grown all over tropical Africa. It is a very beautiful plant; hence it is used ornamentally in some parts of the world.
Pawpaw is one of God’s wonderful gifts to humanity. When one looks at the beauty and richness of nature, one cannot but burst into songs of praise to God. Pawpaw is a pharmacy in its own right. We all eat pawpaw and enjoy its sweet and pleasant taste. But how many of us know the medicinal values of this wonderful plant?
Some time ago I visited a poor old man living alone in a village house. His three children are working outside the country. This old man had an old sore that refused to heal despite regular medication. The sore had gone so bad that the man’s leg was actually rotting away. “Why is no one treating you?” I asked him. He replied: “My children are all living abroad and they always send me Oyibo (Western) medicine to cure my leg, but the leg is stubborn”. My heart sank. At the back of this old man’s house are three healthy pawpaw plants. I drew his attention to the plants and showed him how to use the pawpaw fruit to treat his sore. Within three months his leg was back to normal. He was able to trek to the farm and go to church. I did not need to bring Holy Communion to him in the house anymore.
How heart-rending it is to see people dying of common illnesses that can easily be cured. Go to our hospitals and you will see what I mean. The drugs are so expensive. Worse still, seventy percent of the drugs in the Nigerian market are fake. What other hope do we have then, but to turn to nature? I once passed the night with a simple family in a remote village, where I had gone to do research. Having settled down, my host showed me to the bathroom and apologized that there was no special soap for me to bathe. I told him I did not need a special soap because there was a natural soap growing nearby. I took him to the pawpaw plant in front of his house and showed him how to use the leaf as soap. The following morning he applied what I had taught him. He simply squeezed the leaves together and used them to scrub his body. He was excited at how effective it was. Such is the wonderful nature of the pawpaw plant.
Pawpaw improves the digestion of protein and expels worms. The ripe fruits are rich in vitamins A, B and C. Vitamin A is good for eyesight. Vitamin B for the nerves and muscles, while vitamin C strengthens the immune system and helps to fight against illnesses. For worms, chew two tablespoons of the seeds of ripe pawpaw fruit first thing on rising and last thing at night. Do this for three days. Take only fruits for breakfast and supper for those three days.
For chronic external ulcers or sores, cut a piece of unripe pawpaw fruit and tie directly to the wound. Do this four times daily. Continue till the wound has dried, which will be in a few days or weeks. To make the wound heal faster, eat plenty of ripe pawpaw.
Pawpaw is also useful in treating the following conditions:
1.) Malaria Fever
Squeeze some yellow pawpaw leaves in water. Take a glassful three times daily for seven days. The preparation is also good for jaundice. The dosage is the same.
The green leaves of pawpaw are good for diabetes and for diabetes-induced hypertension. Squeeze the green leaves in water and take a glass three times daily. This preparation is also good for constipation.
3.) Stomach Ulcer:
Cut a big unripe pawpaw fruit into pieces. Do not remove the peel or seeds. Simply cut the whole fruit into cubes. Then soak in five bottles of water for four days. Sieve and take half a glass three times daily for two weeks. This is a very good remedy for any type of intestinal ulcer.
4.) External Ulcer:
The white milky sap of the unripe pawpaw contains a high percentage of papain, which is used for chronic wounds or ulcers. This can be obtained by making a slight cut on the unripe pawpaw fruit to allow the juice to drop. Papain is also present in the ripe pawpaw fruit.
The dry, brown pawpaw leaf is a good remedy for convulsion. Pick up the dry, fallen pawpaw leaves and grind into powder. Add two tablespoonfuls of the powder to half a glass of palm kernel oil. Stir well and rub all over the body. This preparation is of great help during an attack of convulsion. It quickly arrests the abnormal condition. It is also helpful in cases of high fever to bring down the body temperature.
The root of the pawpaw plant is a good remedy for respiratory problems, especially bronchitis. Bring some pawpaw roots to boil. Take half a glass thrice daily. For cough, simply chew a tender pawpaw root and swallow the juice.
Pawpaw root is effective for the cure of piles. Prepare as for bronchitis. Dosage is half a glass twice daily.
Cut two unripe pawpaw fruits into pieces (seeds and peel inclusive). Bring to boil in eight bottles of water. Take half a glass thrice daily.