Papaya: Avoid during pregnancy

If you are pregnant or trying to become pregnant, avoid eating papaya or using a papaya product. Papaya is sometimes recommended for soothing indigestion, which is a common ailment during pregnancy. Although a fully ripe papaya is not considered dangerous, a papaya that is at all unripe contains a latex substance that triggers uterine contractions.1 Contractions of the uterus could lead to a miscarriage.

The papaya enzyme that helps soothe indigestion is called papain, or vegetable pepsin. Papain is found in the fruit's latex and leaves.1 Researchers have noted that unripe papaya latex acts like prostaglandin and oxytocin, which the body makes to start labor.2 Synthetic prostaglandin and oxytocin are commonly used to start or strengthen labor contractions.

Citations

  1. Papaya (2004). In A DerMarderosian, J Beutler, eds., Review of Natural Products. St. Louis: Wolters Kluwer Health.
  2. Adebiyi A, et al. (2002). Papaya (Carica papaya) consumption is unsafe in pregnancy: Fact or fable? Scientific evaluation of a common belief in some parts of Asia using a rat model. British Journal of Nutrition, 88(2): 199–203.

Last Updated: November 28, 2008

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