Papaya enzyme is a potent mix of proteolytic enzymes derived from the papaya fruit, and offers several health and digestive benefits. The enzyme can speed up certain chemical reactions within the cells, and also breaks down certain types of protein. Papaya enzyme, also known as papain, has practical and medicinal uses. People can enjoy its benefits by eating raw papaya fruit or taking a papain dietary supplement.
Papaya enzyme is called papain, a digestive enzyme that helps break down certain types of food in the stomach. Papain dissolves protein tissue when it comes in contact with certain types of meat. Consequently, it's often used in cooking and baking as a meat tenderizer. Papaya enzyme also has several health benefits. According to WHFoods.com, papain can be used to treat certain types of sports injuries, allergy attacks and may also prevent colon cancer because it improves digestive health.
Papain is available in supplement form at health food and nutrition stores online and offline, and is commonly used as a digestive aid. According to Wired.com's Wired Science, papain, the enzyme found in papaya, contains properties that can break down venom and other proteins, thereby protecting our immune systems. HealthSquare.com lists oral forms of papaya enzyme to relieve digestive problems. Nutrasanus.com points out that other medicinal uses of papain include preventing cornea scar deformation, treating insect and jellyfish stings, and defibrinating certain types of wounds.
Papain has a soothing effect on the stomach and helps the stomach break down protein easily. Red meat, fish and certain types of vegetables high in protein can be broken down and absorbed by the stomach readily with the help of a digestive enzyme. According to WHFoods.com, papaya enzyme also has an anti-inflammatory effect in the body, helping speed up the healing process after a burn or injury.
According to HealthSquare.com, papaya enzyme supplements can cause some unwanted side effects when taken in oral form. Side effects may include severe drowsiness, slow heartbeat, nausea or vomiting, severe abdominal pain, stomach cramping and the inability to move. Some people may also experience allergic reactions such as severe dizziness, itching or swelling, the development or rashes, or trouble breathing. If any of these effects are experienced, the individual must seek medical help immediately.
Some people can enjoy the health and medicinal benefits of papaya enzyme by consuming fresh papaya fruit; others choose to take a supplement. Papain is readily available as a dietary supplement over the counter in the United States, and is also found in some topical beauty products and topical ointments. However, the FDA issued a warning in 2008 to stop marketing topical drug products containing papain because some people had experienced severe health problems that may have been traced to using products containing papaya enzyme.