Papaya is an orange-colored tropical fruit. Papain is a special enzyme that’s found in raw papaya. It’s popular in folk medicine because of its ability to break down proteins, aid digestion, and reduce inflammation.
Like bromelain, which is found in pineapple, papain is available in many forms, from capsules to topicals. The two enzymes are commonly combined in commercial products for their anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effects.
Papaya Enzyme Side Effects
Papain supplements, or taking high doses of papain, may cause:
- throat irritation or damage
- esophageal perforation
- stomach irritation
- allergic reaction
People who are allergic to latex or papaya shouldn’t use papain. Topical papain may cause allergic reactions, blisters, and skin irritation.
Papain may lower blood sugar. Use with caution if you have diabetes or hypoglycemia, or use medications or natural remedies that lower blood sugar.
Papain may increase your bleeding risk. Don’t use papain if you take blood thinners or have a blood clotting disorder. Stop taking papain two weeks prior to surgery.
Pregnant and breastfeeding women or women who are planning to become pregnant shouldn’t use papain supplements. There is potential for harm to the baby. As well, a 2002 animal study suggests that eating papaya may cause fetal poisoning or birth defects when consumed in large amounts.
What Is Papain? How Does It Work?
Papain is a proteolytic enzyme that’s found in papaya. The papaya fruit, Carica papaya, actually contains several proteolytic enzymes, including papain, chymopapain A, chymopapain B, and papaya peptidase A.
The most well-known enzyme of the bunch, papain, is present in the immature fruit of the female papaya plant. It’s also in the leaves, roots, and latex sap of the plant.
Papain helps break down the bonds between amino acids, the building blocks of proteins. Like all proteolytic enzymes, it breaks the long chain-like molecules of proteins into shorter fragments, called peptides, and then into their components, called amino acids.
The papaya enzyme has also proven to exhibit wound-healing, infection-fighting, and pain-relieving effects.