Papaya enzyme, also referred to as papain, is a cysteine protease enzyme present in papaya. Also known as papaya proteinase I, it is well-known for its digestive health benefits. It contains 212 amino acids, which are stabilized by 3 disulfide bridges. Simply put, it is the potent mix of proteolytic enzymes derived from this fruit. Papain helps in tenderizing meat by breaking down the collagen and other connective tissues, and thus, is widely used as a marinating ingredient.
Papaya enzyme supplements come in the form of tablets and powder. They are generally produced by collecting the latex from the papaya fruit. The latex is either allowed to dry on the fruit itself, or to drip inside a container suspended from the fruit. Once it dries and becomes crude, it is purified in order to get rid of contaminants in it. The purified enzyme is eventually made available in the form of papain tablets or powder.
Though the benefits of papain exist in plenty, they were not known until the 1870s; that's roughly about a century after the effectiveness of papaya as a medicinal herb was acknowledged. After its discovery, it was subjected to extensive research, which established its numerous benefits; the treatment of digestive problems being just one of them.
- ▶ A useful digestive enzyme, papain helps the stomach to break down protein easily; thus facilitating the absorption of nutrients. Most of its benefits revolve around the fact that it aids digestion. For instance, it can help people suffering from dyspepsia―a condition of impaired digestion.
- ▶ It is known to help in dissolving fats and softening the texture of the skin. Additionally, it also helps in cleaning dead tissues and thus, keeps the skin healthy. That explains why it is widely used in beauty products.
- ▶ It is also known for its anti-inflammatory properties, owing to which it helps in soothing the stomach and alleviating edema. Its anti-inflammatory properties also help in healing burns and cold sores.
- ▶ The papaya enzyme has also demonstrated effectiveness in treating stomach ulcers and dissolving membranes in diphtheria.
- ▶ It is helpful in treating swelling and bruising. It is also effective in curbing swelling and fever that develops after a surgery.
- ▶ It is also believed to assist in alleviating various food allergies, especially the ones related to incomplete digestion of food proteins.
- ▶ The amino acids in papain can help in alleviating the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) by preventing acid reflux.
- ▶ People who suffer from lower back pain, sprains, or strains can get relief by including papaya enzyme in their diet. Additionally, it is also known to help in alleviating sore throat swelling and sinus pain.
- ▶ Studies have revealed that papain is an excellent immunostimulant, which helps in boosting our immune system.
- ▶ As it is a proteolytic enzyme, papain also helps in dealing with intestinal parasites. It is the same property which helps it break down food proteins.