9 Side Effects Of Papaya To Watch Out For

side effects of papaya

Who doesn’t love papayas? Whether you add it to your salad or blend it into a cool glass of papaya juice, this rich orange fruit is a summer delight. If you are a papaya lover, you’ll be glad to know that this delicious fruit is also known for its medicinal properties. It’s high in vitamins A, B, and C and contains proteolytic enzymes (enzymes that digest protein) like chymopapain and papain. These are also known to have antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties.1

That’s not all, though. Papayas are used to treat a variety of conditions from digestive problems to high blood pressure. Papaya leaves have even been found effective against the dreaded dengue fever.2 3


But even this all-rounder has some significant side effects you need to watch out for. Let’s find out what they are that you can use this nutritional fruit safely.

Side Effects Of Papaya To Watch Out For

1. Induces Abortion

Papaya seeds, roots, and infusion of the leaves can cause abortions. And unripe papaya fruits have a high concentration of latex which can cause uterine contractions. As the fruit ripens, the concentration of latex reduces significantly. But still, if you’re pregnant it’s best to avoid papayas.4 5


Papaya seeds can also increase blood flow during periods and even induce menstrual periods.6 Something to consider if you’re planning a pregnancy.

2. Causes Birth Defects

This again is for all moms-to-be. Papain, a chemical component found in papaya leaves and fruit, can be toxic to your baby and cause birth defects if you take it while you’re pregnant. Unripe papayas have a higher concentration of papain than ripe papayas, but it’s safer to avoid papayas altogether during pregnancy. Also, we don’t know enough to say whether papaya is safe during breastfeeding, so it might be best to limit its consumption during this time as well.7


3. Can Damage The Food Pipe

You might be tempted to binge on papayas. But having large quantities of papaya orally can damage your esophagus, the food tube that connects your throat to your stomach.8 While researchers don’t seem to have a number yet, it’s unlikely that normal servings of the fruit can cause this reaction. A one cup serving of papaya (148 g) can be safely included it in your daily quota of fruits.9

4. Lowers Blood Sugar

Fermented papaya can lower blood sugar. It could cause your blood sugar to drop excessively if you already have low blood sugar or are taking medication to control blood sugar. It can also have an impact on sugar levels after and during surgery. So it’s best to stop taking fermented papaya about two weeks before undergoing a surgical procedure.10


5. Causes Allergy

Papaya latex can cause a severe allergic reaction in certain people. Latex is usually obtained by cutting into unripe papaya fruits. But ripe papaya fruits contain some latex too. And remember, if you have a latex allergy, an allergic reaction to proteins contained in natural rubber latex, you might also be allergic to papaya. So it’s best to avoid having papaya or products containing papaya. 11

6. Bad For Children With Cystic Fibrosis

Papaya is often recommended for people with cystic fibrosis (CF) as it contains the digestive enzyme papain which can be beneficial for the condition.12 However, some research indicates that children with CF who take digestive enzymes like papain may develop fibrosing colonopathy, a condition which damages the large intestine.13 And since papain is found in papaya leaves and fruit, it might be best for children with CF to steer clear of the fruit.14


7. Interacts With Blood Thinning Medication

Papaya may enhance the effects of some medications used for blood thinning, which can lead to bleeding and bruising. Do check in with your doctor about adjusting your dose of blood thinning medication if you take papaya.15

8. Can Be Toxic

You might have heard of the various health benefits of papaya seeds – for instance, they’re considered to be beneficial for the health of your liver and kidneys. However, if you do decide to indulge in this newly popular health food, take care to limit the quantity you consume. Papaya seeds contain a compound known as benzyl isothiocyanate which can be toxic in high concentrations.16


9. Lowers Fertility

Animal studies have found that papaya seed extracts can negatively impact male fertility by lowering sperm count and suppressing sperm motility.17 So if you’re trying for a baby, avoid these.