The pawpaw, an underrated and often overlooked fruit, native to eastern North America, may have more to offer than just it’s sweet flavor. Research completed by professor emeritus Jerry McLaughlin of Purdue University has led to a new shampoo that is capable of removing lice.
McLaughlin first began studying the compounds found in the bark of the pawpaw tree in 1976 and found more than 50 compounds in the bark that were capable of controlling insects and pests. These components are known as annonaceous acetogenins (AAs) and are derivatives of long-chain fatty acids. According to a news brief by Carol Potera, “y a complex mechanism of action, they block energy production in the mitochondria, and pests ‘run out of energy and die,’ according to McLaughlin.”
“Head lice have become resistant to many of the products currently on the market, so this new product may be especially useful,” McLaughlin said in a statement. “This is the first truly innovative new product for head lice to be released to the market in 50 years.”
McLaughlin’s research didn’t stop at lice, however. Additional research showed that pawpaw compounds were also effective in killing tumors that had proven resistant to anti-cancer agents.