Papain is a substance extracted from the papaya tree. It is found in the leaves, the fruit, stem and the roots. It is an enzyme that helps in the breakdown of proteins. It is one of the enzymes called proteases because of their ability to breakdown proteins (proteolytic properties). There are many types of protease enzymes with each playing a role in the breakdown of these nutrients so that the body can utilize them for building, repair, and other functions played by the proteins we eat. Another example of a protease enzyme is bromelain.
Uses of papain
Traditionally, papain products have been used for various health issues. This has been as an oral or topical preparation. Some of the uses of the traditional uses of the enzyme include:
- Pain relief
- To reduce swelling following trauma or surgery
- In the treatment of gut parasites
- For the relief of an inflamed throat
- In the management of shingles
- Treatment of chronic diarrhea
- Treatment of allergic and other respiratory disorders
- In the treatment of skin problems including psoriasis
- As an addition to the conventional management of tumors
- To relief symptoms of insect bites
Science based benefits of papain
Ancient wisdom has suggested many health benefits of papain. Science is keen on authenticating some of these uses. Research suggests the following health benefits among many others.
- Papain is a powerful digestive enzyme that effectively breaks down protein fibers that would otherwise be unavailable to the body.
- It may be an important product in the management of malabsorption disorders such as gluten intolerance.
- It supports the respiratory system. It has a mucus thinning effect (mucolytic) and hence has been seen to be helpful in people suffering from sinus problems.
- It has antioxidant properties (see study). This has been found to be as effective as the antioxidant effects of vitamin E or vitamin C.
- It supports the body’s immunity system.
- Promotes better absorption of quercetin (an important antioxidant)
- Is an important aide in the management of prostate
- Can help to reduce the severity of shingles if taken at the outset of the disease symptoms.
For nutritional purposes, papain can be sourced from the papaya fruit. Commercial preparations of papain include papaya only supplements or a combination of the enzyme with other health-promoting ingredients. For example, from Belisan you can get your papain needs through two premium nutritional products. These are Daily Multivitamin Essential for Men and Women and Superplant Enzymes. These are unique plant-based nutritional supplements that have been produced in a Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) certified facility.
In the former product, papain is one of the many ingredients that include vitamins, minerals, and other enzymes among many other ingredients. In the latter (Superplant Enzymes), papain is one of the ingredients in a product containing other enzymes. These include lipase, bromelain, and amylase among others. This is a product that helps your gut to effectively digest all the major classes of foods that need to be broken down for the body to absorb them. These are proteins, carbohydrates, and fats and lipids.
Safety and precautions of papain use
Papain sourced directly from the papaya fruit is safe. It is also considered safe for many people when taken orally in supplement or medicinal forms – so long as the dosage is adhered to as recommended by the manufacturer. If taken above indicated amounts, it can lead to a number of health issues. These may include:
- Throat corrosion and intense pain
- Possible esophageal erosion and perforation
- Abdominal upset
While taking the papaya fruit may pose no problems to a pregnant or breastfeeding mother, commercially prepared papain extracts should be avoided in this group of women. It is thought to interfere with the unborn baby’s growth and development and could lead to a miscarriage (see this study) or serious birth defects. If planning to get pregnant, it is better to avoid papain medicines and supplements.
Papain is thought to interfere with the progesterone/estrogen balance and so may affect menstrual flow.
Papain reduces blood viscosity. While this may be a benefit under certain health situations, it can also be a disadvantage in other situations because it can increase the risk of bleeding. People with bleeding disorders should therefore avoid its products or talk to a health professional with adequate knowledge on enzyme supplements and their use in disease and health. If going for a scheduled surgical procedure, the papain supplement should be stopped about three weeks before the surgery. In emergency surgery situations, if in a position to, let the doctor know that you are using papain.
Allergic reactions. These have been reported after using papain products. Any history of a reaction is enough reason to avoid using the product because a subsequent and more serious outcome could follow such use. It could even lead to an anaphylactic reaction which can be potentially life-threatening.
If you are allergic to kiwi fruits, then you are at a higher risk to be allergic to papain products. Allergy to figs also appears to suggest an increased risk to react to papain. Those allergic to avocado products are also more likely to react to papain.
If you are allergic to latex, you should avoid papain products.
Papain may increase the effects of a blood thinning medication such as warfarin. Do not use the two concurrently because the risk of serious bleeding even after minor bruising is increased.
Good health is as a result of a combination of health measures. These include a variety of nutritional supplement. Papain is one such supplement that can help you utilize the protein foods that you eat. But your body needs more. That is why Belisan brings you two products that contain papain and other ingredients to support your overall wellbeing. You can learn more about papain and these products here and here.
Ali, M. E.-S., & Pearson, J. P. (2015). More Than One Disease Process in Chronic Sinusitis Based on Mucin Fragmentation Patterns and Amino Acid Analysis. International Journal of Otolaryngology, 2015, 708475. http://doi.org/10.1155/2015/708475
Manosroi, Aranya & Chankhampan, Charinya & Pattamapun, Kassara & Manosroi, Worapaka & Manosroi, Jiradej. (2014). Antioxidant and Gelatinolytic Activities of Papain from Papaya Latex and Bromelain from Pineapple Fruits. Chiang Mai Journal of Science. 41. 635-648.
Curtis Nickel, J., Shoskes, D., Roehrborn, C. G., & Moyad, M. (2008). Nutraceuticals in Prostate Disease: The Urologist’s Role. Reviews in Urology, 10(3), 192–206.
Megan Ware RDN LD. (2017, December 21). "What are the health benefits of papaya?." Medical News Today. Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/275517.php