| Food & Diet

The Benefits Of Papain

By Sara Novak

The Benefits Of Papain

Who knew that papayas were so important? But in fact, papayas are one of the only sources of papain, a proteolytic enzyme that has countless benefits. Our body makes its own enzymes but sometimes, often for the benefits of digestion, we need a little boost. If your digestion isn’t what it should be and it’s left you feeling fatigued, drained, and heavy, why not try your hand at some papaya magic? Let’s take a closer look at what papain is and why it’s so good for your health. 

Key Takeaways:

  1. Where Is Papain From And What Is it
  2. Why You Should Supplement With Papain

Table Of Contents:

What Is Papain?:

what is papain

Papain is a proteolytic enzyme sourced from papayas. Papain is extracted from the fruit of the papaya tree and it is able to break down protein into smaller peptides and amino acids. Our bodies, specifically our pancreas, make trypsin, a natural enzyme used to break down proteins. 

Papain comes from a widely cultivated fruit that resembles a tropical melon. This silky, pink/orange fruit has a nugget of jet black seeds and sweet flesh. While there are 45 varieties of papayas, the most popular is called the Solo papaya, which is cultivated in Hawaii and Florida. Papain comes from the unripe skin of the fruit, which is dried out in the sun or in ovens and then sold in a powder form. Proteolytic enzymes are found in pineapples, papayas, and a few other plants. Papain is most commonly used as a meat tenderizer for its ability to break down the proteins in meat so that it’s more tender.

Why Do We Need Papain?:

why do we need papain

When food enters the stomach, trypsin combines with hydrochloric acid to start breaking down the proteins you eat. Once the proteins reach the small intestine, they’re broken down into amino acids which are the building blocks of life, used in a wide range of functions from growth to repairing tissues. 

If your body is unable to properly breakdown the proteins you eat, it can cause malabsorption of nutrients, contributing to micronutrient deficiencies over time. Doctors can check the levels of trypsin in your body as a way of testing for pancreatitis, or an inflammation of the pancreas. If your body is having trouble absorbing these nutrients then it may be worth looking into supplementing with Papain.

One of the problem's with modern day diets is that we don’t get enough of the enzymes we need from the foods we eat because those foods are heavily processed and often cooked down so much that it kills off the ever important enzymes needed to help our body absorb nutrients.  Many of the food intolerances that we blame on allergies are really the result of a lack of necessary digestive enzymes and inflammation that occurs as a result of this. These food intolerances can cause cramping, bloating, and constipation. Papain has often been used to help with digestion.

If you are interested in supplementing with Papain, make sure to check out our zuEnzymes supplement


This unique and powerful digestive enzyme formula contains enzymes that help you digest lactose, carbohydrates, proteins, and fats and allow your gut to absorb more of the vitamins and minerals in the foods you eat. Digestive enzymes may be the missing key to many people's diets. If you're unable to actually digest your food properly, then you're not getting access to all the nutrients your body needs to be completely healthy. 

The Benefits Of Papain:

From digestion to inflammation, papain has a number of benefits. It gives you a whole body boost. And it may be worth adding to your repertoire. 

1. Digestion -


Digestion is one of the body’s most intricate systems and any glitch in the process can cause a host of repercussions. After we vigorously chew our foods, they make their way to our stomach, where they’re combined and further broken down with the help of gastric acid, mucus, and digestion enzymes. If you don’t have enough digestive enzymes, papain can help to move this process along. A study published in the journal Neuro-Endocrinology Letters found that “the papaya preparation (Caricol®) contributes to the maintenance of digestive tract physiology. It ameliorates various functional disturbances, like symptoms of IBS.” According to research out of the University of Illinois, “the combination of proteolytic enzymes and fiber content found in papaya make this fruit a potential digestive aid.”

Read More: How to Improve Your Gut Health in 4 Easy Steps

2. Wound Healing -

papain and wound healing

If you’re looking to push the healing process along, papain might be just the thing to help. According to a study published in the Journal Revista Gaúcha de Enfermagem, papain may be used in wound healing. The study authors write that “papain can be used in wounds of many etiologies and in various healing stages without any specific contraindications, proving to be effective and safe; although there were reports of burning and pain.” Another study published in the journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine found that “papaya extract has a significant effect toward the healing process of an incised oral wound in mice.” And finally, in a study published in the Pakistan Journal of Biological Sciences researchers found that it was effective at wound healing in animal models. The authors write, "better collagen deposition and presence of skin organelles in rats treated with papain-based wound cleanser demonstrated its efficacy in promoting wound healing. In addition to its wound healing effect, papain-based wound cleanser is also integrated with antibacterial properties which make it a complete package for wound management.” 

3. Muscle Soreness -

muscle soreness

If your muscles are super sore after your workout, papain may help you get back to fighting shape. The enzyme has been shown to relieve muscle soreness. This is a huge benefit for those of us that just want to get back to our workouts a little sooner. A study published in the Journal of Sports Sciences found that “the experimental group demonstrated superior recovery of contractile function and diminished effects of delayed-onset muscle soreness after downhill running when compared with the placebo group. The results of the study indicated that supplementing with digestive enzymes like protease, papain, and trypsin can reduce muscle soreness from downhill running. It was also theorized that these enzymes may increase the rate of muscle healing and recovery.

4. Shingles -


Shingles is an awful disease. It happens when the chickenpox virus from childhood (if you did not get the chicken pox vaccine or it wasn’t invented when you were a child), is still present in your body. Shingles can reappear for a variety of reasons, but one of the main causes is stress. Shingles can cause a really gaping rash along with lots of pain and even nerve damage. The enzyme papain has been shown in some research as a natural treatment for shingles. A study published in the German journal Fortschritte der Medizin foudn found that papain may be as effective at treating shingles as the pharmaceutical drug acyclovir

5. Inflammation -

papain and inflammation

There are two kinds of inflammation: acute and chronic. Acute inflammation is something that we have experienced from the outside. It happens when we get a cut, bruise, or laceration. White blood cells rush to the scene of the crime and the wound turns red, throbbing, and painful. The white blood cells are doing their work to fight infection. The other kind of inflammation, chronic inflammation, happens on the inside. This is when the body is working to keep what it deems as a foreign object out of the body. According to Harvard Health, “this can become a persistent state, even if the perceived threat isn't truly harmful to one's health. In autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, type 1 diabetes, ulcerative colitis, and multiple sclerosis, the body mistakenly reacts to its own tissues as if they were foreign, and produces damaging inflammation against them.” Papain has also been shown to treat inflammation. A study published in Nutrition Review found that papain may have anti-inflammatory qualities. The review highlighted a “wide range of benefits relative to anti-inflammatory, vasculoprotective, and immuno-modulatory effects.” In another study published by the Mayo Clinic, papain could be effective in reducing some inflammatory reactions by the immune system. Although more research needs to be done. 

Read More - 14 Tips To Eliminate Inflammation Naturally

6. Brain Health -

brain health

While there isn’t a whole lot of evidence to back up this claim, enthusiasts say that papain may be good for brain health. This makes sense considering that papayas are loaded with antioxidants that help fight free radicals that can cause disease and may also cause aging.  If you’re looking to amp up your brain health and improve your memory, concentration, mood, and overall cognitive function, it may be worth giving papain a try. 

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