Papain Benefits, Side Effects, and More

Medically Reviewed on 7/21/2022
Papain is an enzyme found in the white fluid (latex) that occurs in raw papaya fruit.

Unripe papaya fruit contains high levels of the proteolytic enzyme known as papain. It shares many of the health benefits as bromelain, which is a substance found in pineapple. However, papain has a few special medicinal properties that can help improve the body's overall health.

Papain fruit is fantastic for giving your daily life a touch of the tropics. In addition to papaya’s sweet juice and tropical taste, the papain enzyme they contain is especially beneficial for digestion and other bodily functions; therefore, it is best to consume as much of it as you can.

Although papain might not be a part of every meal you have, you should always have them as an option.

8 health benefits of papain

Eight health benefits of papain include:

  1. Improves digestion: Supplemental papain is used to treat bloating, constipation, and other common digestive problems, as well as gastrointestinal dysfunction. According to many small-scale studies, papain aids in the body's digestion of protein-rich foods, especially meat. Additionally, papain does not require an acidic milieu for its activation. As a result, papain supplements may be helpful for everyone, including those who often have trouble digesting and metabolizing some types of meat due to low stomach acid.
  2. Reduces inflammation: People with inflammatory diseases such as arthritis, asthma, and other disorders have reported symptom relief after papain ingestion. According to studies, proteolytic enzymes such as papain and trypsin can dissolve pathogenic immune complexes and even stop them from forming in the first place. As a result, papain may be able to enhance lymphatic drainage and have regulatory effects on the immune system. This suggests that papain may be able to prevent inflammation from arising. Studies report that papaya extracts and their related phytochemicals have anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory capabilities, but additional clinical research is required to completely understand these benefits.
  3. Wound healing: Additionally, papain can be used as a home treatment for skin diseases such as wounds and ulcers. Papain may help reduce the debris in the wound and may hasten the healing. For wounds and skin disorders, you can prepare your topical lotion, but you should always test it first on a tiny patch of skin. Psoriasis and other disorders can be relieved with regular use. Papain can cause allergic responses in certain people, so make sure you can move forward safely. If there is no reaction, you can use papain salves or ointments to any wound with confidence that it will heal quickly and completely.
  4. Muscle pain relief: Proteases like papain can help promote muscular health and function because your muscles need a lot of proteins to perform effectively. Papain can aid in the reduction of pain and inflammation in the muscles that have been injured or overworked after exercise, as well as ensure that proteins from your diet are effectively reabsorbed into your muscles. Papain promotes recovery after exercise and lessens discomfort when taken before any significant amount of exercise.
  5. Sore throat remedy: Swelling and pain from a sore throat can cause a lot of discomforts. Any obstruction to your capacity to eat and swallow without discomfort is not a healthy thing. The primary cause of swelling and pain you experience in your throat is inflammation, which papain can help lessen. Throat lozenges with papain are more effective at reducing symptoms than those without.
  6. Fights infections: Because of its antiviral and antifungal qualities, papain has been used in unconventional wound treatment. Papain appears to operate to combat infections by removing the coating of protein that fungi and viruses use to defend themselves. As a result, they are less able to procreate, propagate, and infect others.
  7. Possible anti-tumor effects: According to a study on animals, malignant mice that were given the papain vaccine had a longer mean lifetime than the unvaccinated controls. Following papain immunization, the mice's ability to develop malignant tumors, invade them, and spread them was slowed.
  8. Efficacy for shingles: Papain's anti-inflammatory properties can assist illnesses such as shingles. Papain can help alleviate signs and symptoms including pain and neuralgia, as well as slow the growth of skin lesions, and it does so just as well as top drugs. The antiviral drug acyclovir, which is used to treat herpes virus infections, and the enzyme preparation were found to have similar efficacy. In some small-scale studies, after 14 days of treatment, the enzyme combination proved effective in reducing shingles pain.


According to the USDA, there is no difference between a “portion” and a “serving.” See Answer

What are the risks and side effects of papain?

Papain is considered safe when consumed in typical proportions found in food, and it is regarded as "probably safe" when taken orally in the proper doses.

According to studies, taking too much of the enzyme might cause negative effects such as: 

  • Gastritis
  • Throat irritation
  • Stomach discomfort

When using lotions or ointments prepared with the enzyme topically, there is concern regarding the potential for adverse responses such as skin rashes, blisters, or other side effects if you are allergic to it or have a sensitivity to it.

People who are allergic to kiwi and figs may be allergic to papain. When applying papain topically or ingesting it, people who have these allergies should exercise caution.

People with diabetes and hypoglycemia should use papain with caution and under the supervision of a healthcare provider due to the enzyme's potential to reduce blood pressure.

People who are on blood thinners should avoid using or consuming the enzyme because it may make bleeding more likely. It's crucial to refrain from using it at least two weeks before any planned surgeries.

What is papain?

Papain is an enzyme (a substance that breaks down proteins) found in the white fluid (latex) that occurs in raw papaya fruit. It is a common folk remedy against tissue swelling or local wounds.

Papain can be obtained as a supplement in the forms of capsules, chewable, and topical creams in addition to the consumption of raw papaya fruit. 

According to studies, papain is a more promising anti-inflammatory treatment than nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs because too many of these can have unpleasant side effects.

Before beginning a papain supplement, make sure to consult your doctor first because they may interact with other medications.

What are the special precautions and warnings of papain?

  • When taken by mouth: Foods frequently include papain. When taken as a medicine, it may be safe in doses up to 1,200 mg per day for up to nine weeks. Papain is potentially dangerous when taken in extremely high doses. Extremely high amounts may severely harm the stomach and throat.
  • When applied to the skin: When used for up to 20 minutes, a papain solution might be safe. However, it may not be safe to apply raw papaya fruit or papain to the skin. Raw papain can irritate the skin and cause skin blisters.
  • Pregnancy: It might not be safe to consume papain when pregnant. It could result in bleeding, birth abnormalities, or miscarriage.
  • Breastfeeding: Papain use during breastfeeding is not known to be safe due to a lack of sufficient reliable information. Keep to the recommended dietary levels to be on the safe side.

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Medically Reviewed on 7/21/2022
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