Papain is one of the many powerful digestive enzymes that nature has given to human beings. Commonly found and extracted from the papaya fruit (Carica papaya), it is also referred to as papaya proteinase.
The papaya-enzyme papain plays a key role in digestive processes involving breaking down tough protein fibers. For this reason, it has been commonly used in its native South America as a digestive support for meat eating, as well as a multitude of other health applications discussed below.
Today modern science is catching up with the centuries-old wisdom of traditional healers in South America: papaya, really the enzyme complex papain found in the fruit, can play a significant role in the breakdown of toxins and is a powerful antiseptic, digestive aid, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent.Â
How Does Papain Work?
The papaya-enzyme papain is able to break down larger proteins into smaller proteins or peptides or even into the smallest amino-acid subunit by cleaving the bonds in the interior of the protein chain or the end of the chain (endopeptidase and exopeptidase activity, respectively) in a broad pH range.
This gives it a marked ability to enhance the total digestive process and increase the nutrient absorption of protein-based foods. Its ability to hydrolyse (break down) proteins also means that it can play a key role in many normal physiological processes and potentially influence disease processes for the good.
The Health Benefits
One of the key areas in which papain serves the body, is in the realm of its protein-digestive properties. The University of Michigan supports its use as an enzymatic support for the intestines, stomach and the pancreas.
Skin and Wound Care:
Due to papain’s antiseptic and anti-inflammatory capacities, it is currently being studied for topical applications on burns, irritations and wounds. It has also been used for ulcers and bedsores. Traditional cultures in Hawaii and Tahiti made poultices out of the skins of papaya, as this part of the fruit is particularly concentrated in papain. They applied it to the skin to heal wounds, burns, rashes and bug stings.The University of Minnesota Medical Center cites papain as a debrinding agent, used to remove dead tissue and improve healing on wounds and skin.
Studies show that the enzyme papain is also an anti-fungal agent. A recent 2010 report from the African Journal of Agricultural Research found that extracts from Carica papaya (papain) could statistically reduce the fungal pathogen causing pawpaw fruit rot.
Immune System Support:
According to Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, papain may act as an immune support system for cancer treatment, as proteolytic enzymes such as papain help to modulate leukocytes in the immune response. Several studies suggest that the papain enzyme also possesses anti-tumor capacities.
Studies confirm that the papain enzyme has powerful anti-inflammatory capacities and may help reduce joint and prostate inflammation. One study from the University of Maryland Medical Center, shows that papain was effective in helping the body reduce the swelling associated with prostatitis.
Papain holds compounds that may aid in protecting the body from cellular damage caused by free radicals. One study published in the Journal of Dairy Science fount that papain can offer a potential alternative to chemical additives for increased survival of probiotic bacteria in yogurt due to its oxidation properties. Similarly, it is also a powerful anti-microbial agent commonly used in food preservation, as it prevents bacterial infestations and spoilage due to oxidation.
Dr. Edward F. Group III has his Naturopathic Doctorate, Clinical Herbalist, Holistic Health Practitioner, Clinical Nutritionist certifications, and is a Diplomate of the American Clinical Board of Nutrition and the American Board of Functional Medicine. He founded Global Healing Center Inc. in 1998 which has earned recognition as one of the largest alternative, natural and organic health resources on the Internet.
A dynamic author and speaker, Dr. Group focuses solely on spreading the message of health and wellness to the global community with the philosophy of full body cleansing, most importantly colon cleansing, consuming pure clean organic food, water, air, exercise and nutritional supplementation. Visit GlobalHealingCenter.com to learn more about living green and healthy!