Indigenous to the tropical climes of America, the papaya plant is now found in all tropical regions across the world. The papaya plant is normally small size and belongs to the Carica papaya or the Caricaceae family. The plant has a non-timbered trunk that is hollow and bears large, long stalked and extremely lobed leaves. The papaya plant does not have any intervening or dominant branches, its fruits have smooth exterior that openly resembles the cantaloupe groups of fruits or melons. The ripened papaya fruit is yellowish-orange in color and extremely delicious. The full grown, but unripe papaya fruits give out a milky sap or latex when low cuts are made on them. This white milky substance is a useful medication and is collected and dried as crude papain. While most of the papain is collected by making incisions in the unripe papaya fruits, some quantity (approximately two per cent) of this important ingredient is also obtained from the plant's leaves. Papain is also often known as the vegetable pepsin. This milky ingredient of raw papaya fruits is a blend of proteolytic enzymes that have multifarious activities. Papain not only hydrolyzes proteins, but also does the same with small peptides (linear molecules of amino acids), amides (organic or inorganic derivates of ammonia) as well as a number of esters. The other elements of crude papain cause the hydrolysis of carbohydrates as well as fats in the body. Owing to its wide range of functions, early herbal medicine practitioners used papain to treat various types of digestive disorders, especially those related to the intake of protein-rich diets. In addition, the papain enzymes as well as the papaya leaves are also used as a vermifuge to throw out wormsfrom the intestines. This is particularly effective in dispelling tapewormsfrom the body. Presently, tablets prepared from papain containing 10 mg to 50 mg of the enzyme are readily available in the market to treat digestive disorders. As mentioned...
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