Monday, March 3, 2008

Papaya and Nobel Prize

Papaya Plantation - Costa Rica

In my book, the Cockroach Catcher reminisced about going home after the final medical school examinations:

“……The guavas were not quite ready but our own giant papaya tree seemed capable of fruiting through the year. These were yellow fleshed and delicious though without the special fragrance associated with the red variety……”

As fashion in food recommendation changes with time, I prefer to eat what I like and I happen to like papaya. Right now, non-green fruits and vegetables seem to be the flavour of the month, and in this respect papaya certainly fits the bill.

View recommendations with some caution, and if it fits in with how you feel then go for it.

Papaya – red variety from Costa Rica

Papaya contains the enzyme Papain, which has a special ability to break down peptide bonds. This makes papaya ideal for marinating. Go easy though. If left too long the meat may be over tenderised. I definitely prefer the fresh fruit to the commercial preparation.

As early as in 1978, the Time Magazine reported on the controversial use of Papain for treating slipped discs. Chymopapain, the enzyme derived from Papain was legal in Canada then but not in the U.S. Some individuals may be allergic to Chymopapain. I often wonder if there might have been other reasons. The Time Magazine article pointed out that 170,000 Americans underwent disc surgery every year. The best recommendation was perhaps by the Chicago Orthopaedic Surgeon Dr. Noble, who not only referred his patients but also himself to a Canadian Hospital for the treatment. He sort of “put his back where his mouth was”.

Papaya and its extract has other uses. Papain is used in some preparations of soft contact lens cleaning solution.

Small Jelly Fish - Barbados

In the unfortunate event of a swimmer or snorkeller getting stung by a jelly fish, papaya is by far the best treatment as a local application. It is also wonderful as a facial mask. Next time when you buy a whole or half papaya, keep the skin after cutting off the flesh. Rub your face with the flesh side of the skin and leave for ten minutes before washing off – this beats most other facials. Just make sure you do not have cuts or scratches on your skin. The last time I checked the prices of some facials containing Papaya extract, they were upwards of £16.

Now you have a secret recommendation from the Cockroach Catcher.

However, you may be too late to get the Nobel Prize. Rodney Porter in 1972 was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine for his ground breaking work on the chemical structure of antibodies, jointly with Gerald Edelman:

“ … Porter aimed at separation of those parts of the molecule that are responsible for the capacity of the antibody to react specifically and combine with that foreign substance, that antigen to which it is specifically fitted. He found that this indeed could be done with the aid of the protein splitting enzyme papain.

The Nobel press release concluded:

“Their discoveries represent clearly a break-through that immediately incited a fervent research activity the whole world over, in all fields of immunological science, yielding results of practical value for clinical diagnostics and therapy.”

Buy the book: The Cockroach Catcher

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