Papaya seeds

How to Eat Papaya Seeds

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The next time you slice into a colorful papaya, don’t discard its small round seeds! Although the seeds taste spicy and a little bitter, studies show that they have medicinal properties. [1] X Research source Try adding raw seeds to foods you already enjoy, such as smoothies, salad dressings or marinades. If you prefer, dry the seeds and grind them into a fine powder. Then, you can use the dried papaya in place of ground black pepper.

Can Eating Papaya Seeds Get Rid of Parasites? TikTok’s Latest Trend, Explained by Experts

Wait, how much do you really need to worry about parasites in the first place?

TikTok is responsible for putting us on to some of our favorite wellness hacks, from the best way to use a nasal spray to the correct amount of toothpaste to use. But the latest health claim circulating on the app certainly pushes things further: Users swear that eating papaya seeds helps get rid of parasites from your digestive tract.

The trend began late last month, when TikTok users began uploading videos of themselves eating papaya seeds to discover if they had an undiagnosed parasitic infection. (One thought she might “poop worms,” while another wondered if she had “bugs up my butt.”)

But can a spoonful of crunchy, peppery seeds actually reveal if you have a parasite in your gut? Here’s everything you need to know about the viral papaya seed “hack” before you consider giving it a try—plus how much you really need to worry about parasites in the first place.

First, what is a parasite and does it cause any symptoms?

Parasites are organisms that live on or inside a host organism, feeding from or at the expense of the host, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The two most common types that live inside humans are protozoa, which include giardia, and helminths, which include tapeworms.

When watching these TikTok videos, you might start to wonder if people are unknowingly walking around with parasitic infections—but that’s simply not the truth, says Nitin Ahuja, M.D., a gastroenterologist and assistant professor of clinical medicine at Penn Medicine. “In the United States, they’re very much not an endemic issue,” he explains. “Parasites are much more common in tropical countries.”

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Most parasites are food- or waterborne, the CDC notes, often picked up after ingesting something contaminated. Well water, for example, could be a source of giardia, Dr. Ahuja says (although most people with wells don’t need to worry about parasitic infections in the U.S.).

The symptoms of parasites are “super-nonspecific,” he explains: Abdominal pain, chronic diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and unexplained weight loss could all point to a parasitic infection, but can easily be related to something else, too. “The vocabulary of the gastrointestinal tract,” Dr. Ahuja says, “is quite limited.” That’s why it’s best to visit a GI doctor if you have digestive issues you can’t seem to figure out.

Do papaya seeds actually get rid of parasites?

Papayas have been used for centuries in folk medicine, Dr. Ahuja explains, leading to recent research on the fruit’s flesh, skin, and seeds. And unlike some viral health hacks on TikTok, this one has some (limited) science behind it.

The most frequently cited research is a small 2007 pilot study conducted with 60 Nigerian children who had fecal evidence of intestinal parasites. The ones who drank an elixir made with dried papaya seeds were much more likely be cleared of parasites than the ones who received a placebo—but that said, the study was not done on a diverse group of people and the effects have not been replicated. (It’s also important to note that the seeds were dried, and most TikTok videos show people eating fresh seeds.)

But even if you were to try the papaya seed hack, you won’t be able to determine what, if anything, is a parasite in your poop. (One person described passing a “spongy underwater creature” and a “pea-like seed,” although it’s unclear what those things actually were.) Some worms could be large enough to see, but in general, most parasites are invisible to the naked eye, Dr. Ahuja says. Instead, leave identification to the experts.

Are there any benefits of eating papaya seeds?

Papaya itself is packed with nutrients, says Jerlyn Jones, M.S., R.D.N., an Atlanta-based dietitian and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, including antioxidants, vitamins A and C, healthy fat, and fiber. “Papaya is definitely one of those fruits that should be a part of everyone’s meal plan,” she explains.

“I actually do recommend [papaya] in my clinic,” says Dr. Ahuja, who works with patients with a variety of digestive disorders. The fruit itself has some laxative effects, he notes, which can be helpful for patients who prefer trying diet changes before prescribed medications.

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The seeds, on the other hand, may not be as tasty. They have a texture and flavor not unlike black peppercorns, and a similar antioxidant-rich nutritional profile, Jones says.

The seeds are completely edible in smoothies or dried and ground over savory meals, but if you’re not used to them, they could actually give you stomach troubles if you overdo it. Higher doses might “overstimulate” the gut, Dr. Ahuja explains, leading to nausea, diarrhea, or an upset stomach.

Jones also notes that eating too much fiber at once can lead to bloating, cramping, and other digestive troubles. Several TikTok users have reported vomiting, diarrhea, and heartburn after loading up on large amounts of the seeds.

If you’re really curious about trying them just to see what they taste like, Jones recommends sticking to just one teaspoon of dried seeds per day.

What should you do if you suspect you have a parasite?

It’s not wise to self-diagnose a parasite, Dr. Ahuja stresses, since they’re so rare and have such nonspecific symptoms. If you have any of the symptoms of parasites mentioned above, talk to a GI specialist who can help you figure out next steps.

Just don’t think of them as an everyday issue: Similar to “leaky gut,” he says, it’s a rare condition that most people never have to worry about.

If you’re set on adding papaya to your diet for other reasons, Jones says you should: The fruit itself is a nutritional powerhouse, albeit one with no confirmed ability to expel parasites.

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Effectiveness of dried Carica papaya seeds against human intestinal parasitosis: a pilot study

The tropical fruit Carica papaya and its seeds have proven antihelminthic and anti-amoebic activities. To determine the effectiveness of air-dried C. papaya seeds on human intestinal parasitosis, 60 asymptomatic Nigerian children with stool microscopic evidence of intestinal parasites received immediate doses (20 mL) of either an elixir composed with air-dried C. papaya seeds and honey (CPH) or honey alone (placebo) in two randomized treatment groups. Repeat stool microscopic examinations were conducted 7 days postintervention for intestinal parasites. Significantly more subjects given CPH elixir than those given honey had their stools cleared of parasites [23 of 30 (76.7%) vs. five of 30 (16.7%); z = 4.40, P = .0000109]. There were no harmful effects. The stool clearance rate for the various types of parasites encountered was between 71.4% and 100% following CPH elixir treatment compared with 0-15.4% with honey. Thus, air-dried C. papaya seeds are efficacious in treating human intestinal parasites and without significant side effects. Their consumption offers a cheap, natural, harmless, readily available monotherapy and preventive strategy against intestinal parasitosis, especially in tropical communities. Further and large-scale intervention studies to compare C. papaya with standard antiparasitic preparation are desirous.

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