With its distinctive exotic flavour, colour and texture, pawpaw (also known as papaw, or carica papaya if you’re being technical) has long been touted as a refreshing tropical delight. However, it is the fruit’s soothing skincare applications that have shifted its status from tasty treat to beauty must-have.
After studying thousands of plant specimens in Queensland over a century ago, naturalist Dr Thomas Lucas came to regard the pawpaw tree as one of the most exceptional medicinal plants in the world.
He wrote in his 1906 handbook, Domestic Medicine, 'How to Live, and How to Avert and Cure Disease', that he considered it “the finest natural medicine yet discovered”, and even opened a special hospital in Brisbane to treat patients solely with natural pawpaw remedies. His descendants manufacture the same healing ointment formula today.
However, long before the bright red tubes of Lucas’ Papaw Ointment garnered a cult following as an emergency beauty salve, pawpaw was being utilised for its antibacterial and antimicrobial properties.
Pawpaw compound has been shown to be helpful in fighting minor skin infections, and to be something of a miracle solution for dry skin, windburn, mozzie bites, cracked nipples and nappy rash. It’s even being used to treat head lice, and to provide relief from haemorrhoids.