Constipation occurs when your bowel movements are not regular or when they do not completely empty the accumulated waste in your colon. Constipation is one of the most common gastrointestinal problems experienced by adults and children and can lead to health problems if not remedied. Papaya juice is a folk remedy that has been used as a digestive aid for generations due to its natural enzymes and laxative properties. Consult with your doctor if you think your medications might be related to your constipation.
Constipation is defined by infrequent, irregular and often painful bowel movements that involve the expulsion of hard fecal matter. According to “Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine,” other symptoms associated with constipation include abdominal pain, bloating, loss of appetite, nausea, headache, bad breath and a coated tongue. Common causes of constipation include dehydration, lack of dietary fiber, vitamin deficiencies, hormonal changes, diseases and drug side effects. If you do not remedy your constipation, it can eventually lead to bowel obstruction, colitis, reduced nutrient absorption, hemorrhoids and hernias from excessive straining while on the toilet. Further, when toxins are not eliminated through regular bowel movements, they can build up and be absorbed into your bloodstream, which contributes to various diseases and conditions.
Papaya fruit is slightly sweet, with a musky smell to it. It is cultivated in warm, tropical regions of the world. Papayas are high in antioxidants such as carotenoids and flavonoids. They are also good sources of vitamins A, B-9, C, E and K as well as magnesium and potassium. For constipation, papayas are a rich source of papain, which is a natural enzyme that digests protein. Partially unripe papaya contains the most papain, which is helpful for constipation because it prevents the accumulation of partially digested protein in your large intestine, according to “Biochemistry of Human Nutrition.” This is why indigenous cultures eat papaya after protein-rich meals. Further, papaya is a good source of insoluble fiber, which helps to bulk-up the feces in your colon, allowing it to move easier.
Drinking papaya juice instead of eating the fruit has some advantages and disadvantages in regards to constipation. On the one hand, it contains more water, which helps to relieve constipation, and it is a more concentrated form of papain. On the other hand, it contains far less insoluble fiber. However, it also depends on how you make the juice. If you simply blend the fruit, then you’ll get everything, but it won’t be very easy to drink. If you use a juice extractor, you’ll lose most of the insoluble fiber, but it will be much more watery. Either way, papaya displays mild laxative properties that help peristalsis within your large intestine, which triggers the need to relieve yourself, as cited in “Biochemical, Physiological and Molecular Aspects of Human Nutrition.”
In addition to aiding digestion and reducing constipation, drinking papaya juice can help with chronic diarrhea, provide relief from piles, lower cholesterol levels due to its soluble fiber content, prevent intestinal parasite infection, deter the formation of kidney stones, stimulate the immune system and possibly reduce the risks of colon cancer, according to “Prescription for Nutritional Healing." To boost the digestive properties of papaya, try adding pineapple, which contains bromelain. To boost its laxative properties, you might consider adding figs. If you are pregnant, be very cautious, because consuming unripe papaya can induce labor.
- “Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine”; A. Fauci et al.; 2008
- “Biochemistry of Human Nutrition”; George Gropper; 2000
- “Biochemical, Physiological and Molecular Aspects of Human Nutrition”; Martha Stipanuk; 2006
- “Prescription for Nutritional Healing”; Phyllis Balch; 2010