Native to Central America, papaya is now grown in various parts of the world and the fruit is available in the market, throughout the year. Apart from being a delicious fruit, papaya is also nutritious and is believed to have various health benefits. Some of the health benefits of papaya are attributed to the enzymes in this fruit. Nowadays, these enzymes are also available as health supplements.
More about Papaya Enzymes
Did you know that papaya has long been used as a meat tenderizer? How can papaya break down the meat fibers, when cooked with the latter? It has been proved that the enzyme found in raw papaya (called papain) is responsible for this action. In fact, this enzyme is one of the active ingredients in many of the commercial meat tenderizers. Papain is found in good amounts in unripe papaya fruit and the latex of the tree. In fact, this papaya enzyme is a protease that is capable of digesting proteins. Owing to this property, papaya is used as a digestive aid. Apart from papain, there is another enzyme called chymopapain that is also a proteolase.
Today, papain is available in the form of dietary supplements. This papaya enzyme is commercially produced from the latex extracted from raw papayas. This latex is dried and purified, so as to extract the enzyme. It is sold in the form of papaya enzyme tablets, capsules, liquids, ointments and gels. Apart from its health benefits, papain is also used as an ingredient in some commercial products.
Papaya Enzyme Health Benefits
Papaya has long been recognized as a digestive aid. Apart from promoting digestion, it is also said to reduce the risk of certain diseases of the digestive system, including colon cancer. The fruit is also said to be beneficial for lowering cholesterol levels and reducing the risk of atherosclerosis.
Even though some of the health benefits of this fruit are attributed to the nutrients in it, it is the enzymes in papaya that are found to play a main role. So, now, papain and chymopapain are sold as supplements too. Those who want to reap the benefits of these enzymes may either consume raw papaya or use these supplements. This must be done strictly as per the advise of a qualified herbal practitioner.
The following are some of the health benefits of papain.
- Apart from being an excellent digestive aid, papain helps in reducing bloating and indigestion. Some people use papaya enzyme for relieving heartburn and reducing fever. It is also used in people with pancreatitis, as they are unable to produce digestive enzymes.
- This papaya enzyme is found to be useful in treating ulcers. It is used by those affected with diphtheria, as the enzyme is capable of dissolving the false membranes formed in the throat and airways.
- Papain is also claimed to be an immune system booster. This enzyme is found to be used in skin care products, as it is said to soften the skin. Even cold sores and food allergies are said to be treated with this papaya enzyme.
- Papain is claimed to have strong anti-inflammatory properties and so is used for treating edema. It is also used in treating inflammatory conditions like asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, etc. In some regions, papaya enzyme is used for wound healing too.
- Apart from the use of the papaya enzyme for acne, it is also found to be beneficial for treating skin conditions like psoriasis, herpes, ringworm, etc. Some people use it for removing warts.
- Papain gel is applied topically for treating stings caused by bees, mosquitoes, wasps, jellyfish and stingray. The enzyme can break down the protein molecules in the venom.
Commercial Uses of Papain
You may also find papain as an ingredient in certain toothpaste, for its whitening properties. However, the fact is that papain content in toothpaste is so low that it will take a long time for experiencing any noticeable results. This papaya enzyme is also an important ingredient in certain types of dental gels used for removal of dental caries.
Chewing gum is another product that may use this enzyme as an ingredient. Papain is also used for clotting milk in various industries. Another commercial use of this enzyme is in shrink proofing of wool. As mentioned above, papaya enzyme is used in meat tenderizers. It is also used in pet foods as it is claimed to make the food more palatable. You may also find papain in certain contact lens cleaning solutions and drug detox products.
Though there is no conclusive proof for the health benefits of the papaya enzyme, there are many people, who are satisfied with this product. While some of the users vouch for its effectiveness, some others may not find it useful. Some may even develop some side effects, including allergic reactions. So, if you are using papaya enzyme for medicinal purposes, it is necessary to do so as per the instructions of a qualified herbal practitioner. It is also advisable to restrict its use to low dosages. This article is for informative purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.