Today’s blog idea came from a patient this morning. During his skin check we found a sunspot on his arm. He informed me he had been treating spots like that for years with paw paw cream, quite successfully.
Half of my dear readers by now are scoffing – ‘pawpaw cream! May as well use crystals or something!’ , and the other half are applauding his clever use of ‘natural’ remedies – ‘much better than those nasty ‘chemicals’!’.
IMHO the truth is somewhere in between.
Aspirin, possibly the most important drug in history comes from the bark of the willow tree.
Morphine, the base of most strong pain killers comes from the poppy plant.
Picato, a gel we use here at the clinic to treat sunspots comes from the sap of the Euphorbia peplus or milkweed, an Australian discovery.
The difference between nature and medicine is science and research.
A research review reveals that pawpaw cream does have anticancer properties (yeah!) and has been trialled, but not on humans. A large chemical called annonacin seems to be responsible.
BUT, we are not the first to wonder if pawpaw and it’s related plants have medicinal properties. In the West Indies a tea is brewed from the leaves of a related plant (soursop) and used in many folk medicines. On the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe such teas are consumed, mostly for their sedative properties, from early childhood through to old age. In 1996 it was discovered that many of the elderly men from Guadeloupe suffered from movement disorders (Parkinsonism) and annonacin has since been shown to damage the brain, causing the disorder!
Should he stop using the cream? Probably not. The amount being absorbed through the skin and making it’s way to his brain is negligible, but I think there are better alternatives.
Come in to BCMC and ask me what they are 🙂
Dr Spencer Behan.Share on: