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What is a Papaya Enzyme?

Papaya enzymes can be found in supplement form in supermarkets and health stores.
Papaya enzymes are often used to aid in digestion.
An unripe papaya, which is used to make papain.
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  • Written By: L. Hepfer
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 22 December 2014
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Papayas are a tropical fruit that grow on trees. They contain a digestive enzyme called papain, which is at a more concentrated state in the papaya when the fruit is not ripe. This enzyme is extracted to make dietary supplements that may aid in the digestion process of the body. This papaya enzyme can be used in conjunction with chlorophyll and mint to help eliminate bad breath and flatulence.

The trees that produce papaya originated in the tropical regions of South America and Central America, but the fruit can be purchased just about anywhere in the world today. It resembles a pear with its spherical shape and is usually found to be around 7 inches (17.78 centimeters) in length. The outside of the fruit bears an orange color with yellow and pink shading.

The papaya is rich in many different nutrients, including vitamin C, potassium, folate, fiber, vitamin A, vitamin E and vitamin K. Known for their sweet taste, papayas are enjoyed when eaten raw in their ripened state. With an abundance of nutrients available in this tropical fruit, it is extremely valuable in a number of ways.

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Papayas are great for protecting against heart disease and atherosclerosis. They help to lower cholesterol, and their enzymes aid in the digestion process. Papayas also work well to protect the body from developing macular degeneration, and they build up the immune system with the antioxidants that they carry. They protect against rheumatoid arthritis and strengthen the lung health for someone who smokes.

A papaya.

Papain, the digestive enzyme found in the fruit, has been commercially used to create dietary supplements that may be taken orally as a pill or eaten as a chewable tablet similar to other antacids. Papaya products can be found in supermarkets, health food stores and various stores across the world. Aside from the typical digestive uses, the papaya enzyme may be used to tenderize meat. It has been used to medically treat patients with diphtheria, ulcers, and those that experience swelling or fever after having surgery.

This enzyme has been studied and used in a variety of other ways as well. It has been used in pet food to make the taste of the food more enjoyable. Papain has the ability to clot milk, prevent scar deformation on the corneas, and is sometimes used as an ingredient in contact lens cleaning solutions. This widely used enzyme can help treat jellyfish and insect stings, it speeds the healing of wounds, and it lowers inflammation.

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Discuss this Article

popcorn
Post 10

If you are looking for a good facial mask, look for one that contains papaya enzymes. I find that these facial masks are a little expensive but for the benefits it is well worth it. Also, if you really want to try there are lots of recipes online for how to make your own.

The papaya enzyme facial masks help to exfoliate your skin by dissolving dead skin cells. The papaya is also rich in antioxidants, which can help your skin look more youthful and healthier. One of the most interesting things I've found is that it also helps heal acne all while reducing fine wrinkles.

lonelygod
Post 9

Does anyone know if papaya enzymes really work for weight loss? I have been seeing quite a few ads online that are pushing supplements. While this is nothing new, I do like that papaya enzyme is a natural choice and doesn't have too many additives to it.

I have read that papaya enzymes are really good for helping you break down fats and carbohydrates. This is supposed to help your digestion process and apparently speed up your metabolism. I have read so many claims over the years I am just wondering if anyone can share their personal experience with papaya enzymes.

Jester39
Post 8

@Cloudel - Just yesterday my daughter was told by her doctor to take papaya digestive enzymes to help her with indigestion while pregnant.

You can find them at your local health food store and often at your grocery store too. She was told she could have as many as necessary to help her with her indigestion. They taste great, too!

orangey03
Post 7

@cloudel - I love papayas, and after I became pregnant, I researched their effect on pregnant women and their babies. In India and some other countries, people hold strong to the belief that papaya exposure is unsafe while pregnant. This is only true with unripe or partially ripe papayas, though. If a papaya is not fully ripe, then it contains a high concentration of latex. Studies show that this latex may stimulate uterine contractions.

However, a fully ripened papaya contains so many vitamins and nutrients that doctors actually recommend it in moderate amounts for pregnant women. The high vitamin C content prevents heartburn and constipation. Additionally, pieces of ripe papaya combined with milk and honey make an excellent tonic for use during lactation and pregnancy. I did avoid all papaya products during my first trimester, just to be on the safe side.

cloudel
Post 6

I am pregnant, and I heard that eating papayas or taking a papaya enzyme during pregnancy could harm the baby. I haven't taken any, and I probably won't, just to be on the safe side. Does anyone know more about this rumor or if it is true?

lighth0se33
Post 5

@Perdido - I am thinking of taking papaya enzyme as a supplement, so I read some other information on it. Papain has so many known uses that it makes me think there are probably plenty of benefits it offers that are yet to be discovered.

Papain can be used in the treatment of food allergies and cold sores. It can provide relief from edema. Papain can help people suffering from strains, sprains, and lower back pain.

Papain has natural exfoliating properties, so it is good to use as a scrub to remove dead skin cells. This enzyme is also very effective at dissolving fats to soften and purge the skin. Because of these qualities, it is often used in beauty products.

Perdido
Post 4

It seems this papaya enzyme has a wide range of uses. I take it as a supplement, and I am curious about other benefits I may be getting from it that I don't even know about. Does anyone know of papaya enzyme benefits other than those mentioned in this article?

SteamLouis
Post 3

@burcidi-- I'm not an expert on this subject, but like the article said, I know that the amount of papain is greater when the papaya is unripe. I have read about how papain is produced and they only use unripe papayas for it.

Papain is found in the latex of papaya, the latex is the juice that is released from the fruit. I don't know if you could really eat raw, fresh papaya, but you would be consuming the latex with it, so you would get all the papain as well. I think having raw papaya is not going to be very tasty though. You could have it ripe, but then you won't be getting as much of papain.

The good thing about papain supplements is that you get the enzyme in much higher concentration than you would from the fruit. Of course there are going to be some additives like potassium to keep the enzyme fresh and prevent any fermentation while it's out of the fruit. But those additives are not dangerous for consumption. You can also find organic papain supplements, if you are worried about it.

What I would personally do would be to have fresh ripe papaya for minor issues like mild digestion problems, gas and bad breath. But for more serious conditions, papaya enzyme will benefit you more in supplement form. I would also advise my doctor about it just in case.

burcidi
Post 2

Since papayas naturally have the papain enzyme and in even greater amounts when they are unripe, can I just have ripe and unripe papayas instead of taking a supplement?

I am a bit worried about taking supplements. I've read about some of the additives that have been found in some supplements. I would prefer to have the fruit if I can get the same benefit from it.

Does it matter how I consume the fruit? Is the enzyme found in certain parts and will I get enough of the enzyme if I have it ripe?

ddljohn
Post 1

Two of my friends have started their own brewery and they brew and sell all natural beer. One of the ingredients they use in the brewing process is papaya enzyme.

Apparently, there are a lot of synthetic brewing agents on the market, but since this brewery is committed to making all natural drinks, they are opting for papaya enzyme. They told me that it does increase the cost of their product because papaya enzyme is more expensive then synthetic enzymes. But papaya enzyme is said to be becoming more popular in the food industry and that is slowly pulling the price down.

My friends' beer is one of the best I have tasted, and I'm really glad that they have preferred all natural ingredients when making it. We need to select foods and drinks with papaya enzyme and other natural enzymes instead of synthetic ones because they are healthier. And hopefully, as more and more people do, the prices will become cheaper and affordable for all.

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