Papaya Digestive Enzymes

Papaya is a tasty fruit with many benefits. Truly versatile in nature, papayas help to reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases, improve HDL (the good cholesterol), reduce occurrences of inflammatory diseases, and are also rich in vitamin C, thus aiding in skin care and regeneration. 

But that’s not all! There is one additional benefit that makes this fruit even more beneficial for daily consumption: its digestive prowess. In this article, we will talk about the papaya’s digestive enzyme, what it is used for, ways of taking the enzyme, and their potential risks and side effects.

What are papaya digestive enzymes?

Papaya digestive enzymes are called papain, and this is found in the leaves, latex, roots, and fruit of the papaya plant.1 The more unripe the papaya, the higher the content of the enzyme. To get a better picture of the enzyme, consider that it can be compared to Bromelain (found in pineapples), which is a protein digestive. Papain is also similar to Lactase, an enzyme that aids in the digestion of milk through the catalytic breakdown of lactose.2 

Now that we know what papain is, let’s investigate its uses. 

What are papaya enzymes used for?

The primary benefit of papain stems from its digestive ability.3 It can break down proteins into their constituent forms – amino acids. These are required to synthesise proteins, other nitrogen-containing compounds, and neurotransmitters (substances that are needed for the effective functioning of the nervous system).4

Papain may also be effective in patients suffering from Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBS). In two clinical trials totalling 150 patients, researchers observed that those treated with a papaya preparation were seen to have improved gastrointestinal tract physiology with an improvement in symptoms. 5,6

Papaya could also be influential in wound healing, and this has been witnessed in multiple clinical trials where, upon application of papain to the skin, the healing process of skin ulcers and/or burns were accelerated.3

But papain is also used widely in industries for its versatile biochemical properties. Research has utilised it for protein analysis,  beer clarification, toothpaste, and cleansing products for contact lenses.1 It can also be used as a meat tenderizer, since it can break down the protein in the muscle fibre. In addition, papain also aids in improving the quality of the meat. 

In addition, a gel known as Papacarie, which is a combination of papain and chloramine, can be used as a replacement for local anaesthesia in dental procedures, and research has shown that it is also very cost-effective.7

Ways of taking papaya digestive enzymes

If you would like to take a supplement, it can be through capsules, tablets, powders, and even creams. But as with everything, consuming too much could cause adverse effects. Do also note that papain is not approved by the FDA and hence there are no official doses. 

Potential risks and side effects

While there are a few mild side effects of papain, it is very important nonetheless to mention them. These include:3

  1. Local irritation (depending on the method of consumption) and itching 
  2. Stomach pain, Diarrhoea & Throat irritation 
  3. Consuming large amounts can harm the oesophagus
  4. Researchers have studied the effects of papaya leaves (which contain papain) on diabetic rats and concluded that it exerts a hypoglycaemic effect. Therefore, it would be advisable not to take papain (or for that matter consume papaya) with diabetic medications, as this could excessively lower blood sugar levels8
  5. In separate clinical trials across 439 dengue patients and 36 mice, it was observed that papaya leaf extracts could increase platelet and red blood cell count. Hence, it would be advisable to not consume papain with blood thinners such as heparin, warfarin, and aspirin 9,10
  6. In relation to pregnancy and fertility, studies on male rats and mice revealed that leaf extracts from papaya can lower sperm health

Finally, as a word of caution, if you are or if there is even a small possibility that you might be allergic to papaya, figs, kiwi, or latex – please do not consume papain. 

When to seek medical advice

As we have seen above, adverse effects of taking papain may include severe heartburn, sore throat, skin itchiness/blister, and/or stomach pain. You may also experience allergic reactions in the form of hives, breathlessness, lip/tongue swelling, or a sore throat. If you are noticing any of these, immediately contact your physician.11


So, to summarise everything you have read today, papain is like a super supplement that has many benefits that range from aiding in digestion and relieving IBS symptoms to having industrial and product-based uses. 

It is extracted from various segments of the papaya plant but is available in multiple forms including tablets and creams. They showcase mild side effects, but you should be careful if you are going to take them with diabetic or blood thinning drugs. 

Also remember that since there is no official dosage prescribed, it would probably be beneficial to consult with your healthcare advisor before beginning to take the supplement.


  1. Papain | enzyme. In: Encyclopædia Britannica [Internet]. 2019. Available from:
  2. Get to Know Three Digestive Enzymes: Papain, Bromelain, and Lactase [Internet]. Healthy Perspectives. 2019 [cited 2022 Aug 26]. Available from:
  3. 10 Benefits of Papaya Enzyme (Papain) + Side Effects [Internet]. SelfDecode Supplements. 2019. Available from:
  4. National Research Council (US) Subcommittee on the Tenth Edition of the Recommended Dietary Allowances. Protein and Amino Acids [Internet]. National Academies Press (US); 2013. Available from:
  5. Muss C, Mosgoeller W, Endler T. Papaya preparation (Caricol®) in digestive disorders. Neuro Endocrinology Letters [Internet]. 2013;34(1):38–46. Available from:
  6. Weiser F-A, Fangl M, Mosgoeller W. Supplementation of Caricol®-Gastro reduces chronic gastritis disease associated pain. Neuro Endocrinology Letters [Internet]. 2018 Mar 1 [cited 2022 Aug 26];39(1):19–25. Available from:
  7. Motta L, Bussadori S, Campanelli A, Silva A, Alfaya T, Godoy C, et al. Efficacy of Papacarie® in reduction of residual bacteria in deciduous teeth: a randomized, controlled clinical trial. Clinics. 2014 May 13;69(5):319–22. Available from:
  8. Juárez-Rojop IE, Díaz-Zagoya JC, Ble-Castillo JL, Miranda-Osorio PH, Castell-Rodríguez AE, Tovilla-Zárate CA, et al. Hypoglycemic effect of Carica papaya leaves in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2012 Nov 28;12(1). Available from:
  9. Charan J, Saxena D, Goyal J, Yasobant S. Efficacy and safety of Carica papaya leaf extract in the dengue: A systematic review and meta-analysis. International Journal of Applied and Basic Medical Research. 2016;6(4):249. Available from:
  10. Dharmarathna SLCA, Wickramasinghe S, Waduge RN, Rajapakse RPVJ, Kularatne SAM. Does Carica papaya leaf-extract increase the platelet count? An experimental study in a murine model. Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine [Internet]. 2013 Sep 1;3(9):720–4. Available from:
  11. Papaya (Papain) [Internet]. Tufts Medical Center Community Care. [cited 2022 Aug 26]. Available from:
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Punyaslok Mishra Mishra

MB BCh BAO - Queen's University Belfast, Northern Ireland

Punyaslok is an emerging medical professional from Queen's University Belfast with a specialization in Medicine. He has showcased leadership as the President of the Asian Medical Students’ Association in Northern Ireland since August 2022. Besides, he contributes as a Peer Mentor and has recently undertaken a vital role as a Medical Writer Intern at Klarity, where he pens insightful articles for a health library, discussing topics from angina to the enzymes in papaya. Notably, Punyaslok's research on the potential of Mesenchymal Stem Cells in treating Anthracycline Induced Cardiomyopathy is affiliated with Queen's University, signifying his deep interest in advancing therapeutic measures in the medical realm.

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