Papaya Leaves for Jellyfish Stings

Informant: Uluwehi is a 21-year-old student from Hawaiʻi. She is from the island of Oʻahu.

Main Piece: “So, a good medicine is that if you get stung by a jellyfish, you should crush up papaya leaves and use that on the sting. I know they do it in the Molokaʻi races since it’s not good to bring in chemicals, and also they just generally do it.”

Background Information about the Performance: The informant learned about this medicine while researching Hawaiian medicines. She uses it if she can when she or somebody she knows gets stung.

Context of Performance: The medicine is given to sufferers of jellyfish stings.

Thoughts: Doing further research, I found that papaya leaves contain papain, a chemical that has some use for pain and inflammation relief. Although no sting-related medicines have been made from it, the leaves could offer some pain relief from the sting as a result. I also think it is noteworthy that the papaya is not native to Hawaiʻi and yet it is still part of their folk belief.