PAPAIN Overview Information
Papain is taken from the fruit of the papaya tree. It is used to make medicine.
Papain is used for pain and swelling (inflammation) as well as fluid retention following trauma and surgery. It is used as a digestive aid and for treating parasitic worms, inflammation of the throat and pharynx, shingles (herpes zoster) symptoms, ongoing diarrhea, hay fever, runny nose, and a skin condition called psoriasis. Papain is also used along with conventional treatments for tumors.
Some people apply papain directly to the skin to treat infected wounds, sores, and ulcers.
In manufacturing, papain is used in cosmetics, toothpaste, enzymatic soft contact lens cleaners, meat tenderizers, and meat products. It is also used for stabilizing and chill-proofing beer.
How does it work?
Papain contains substances called enzymes that help break down proteins.
Possibly Effective for:
- Herpes zoster (shingles). Taking papain by mouth might improve some symptoms of shingles.
- Sore throat and throat swelling (pharyngitis). Taking papain by mouth, together with other treatments, might relieve sore throat and swelling.
Possibly Ineffective for:
- Insect bites. Some research shows that applying gauze soaked in a specific papain product (Adolph’s meat tenderizer) to the skin for 20 minutes after a fire ant sting does not reduce pain or itching.
- Complications due to radiation therapy. Some early research suggests that taking a specific product (wobe-Mugose E, MucosPharma, Geretsried, Germany), containing papain, trypsin, and chymotrypsin, daily beginning 7 days before radiation therapy and continuing for 9 weeks thereafter can reduce skin reactions and other side effects of radiation therapy. However, other research suggests that this same product does not reduce complications.
- Muscle soreness after exercise. Early research shows that taking a combination of product containing papain, bromelain, trypsin, amylase, lipase, lysosome, and chymotrypsin four times in one day before a downhill run can reduce muscle soreness.
- Jellyfish stings. Early research suggests that dunking the area affected by a jellyfish sting into a solution containing papain (Aldolph’s meat tenderizer, Aldolph’s, Trumbull, CT) is less effective than hot water alone for decreasing the pain of a jellyfish sting.
- Wound healing. Early research suggests that applying a solution containing papain plus DMSO, followed by the use of ultrasound to increase the delivery of the two agents, might improve wound healing.
- Digestion problems.
- Hay fever.
- Runny nose.
- Treating infected wounds.
- Intestinal worms.
- Other conditions.
PAPAIN Side Effects & Safety
Papain is LIKELY SAFE when taken by mouth in amounts commonly found in foods. It is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken by mouth in medicinal amounts and when applied the skin as a solution in appropriate amounts. It can cause irritation of the throat and stomach.
Taking large amounts of papain by mouth is POSSIBLY UNSAFE. In excessive doses, papain can cause severe throat damage. Also, applying raw papain to the skin is POSSIBLY UNSAFE. Skin contact with raw papain can cause irritation and blisters.
There have also been reports of severe allergic reactions.
Special Precautions & Warnings:Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Taking papain by mouth during pregnancy is POSSIBLY UNSAFE. There is a concern that it might cause birth defects or miscarriage. Not enough is known about the safety of using papain during breast-feeding. Do not use it if you are pregnant or breast-feeding.
Allergy to fig or kiwi fruit: One case report suggests that people who are allergic to fig and kiwi might also be allergic to papain.
Bleeding disorders: There is a concern that papain might increase the risk of bleeding in people with a clotting disorder.
Surgery: Papain might increase the risk of bleeding during surgery. Stop taking papain 2 weeks before surgery.
The following doses have been studied in scientific research:
- For treating pain and swelling (inflammation) following an accident or surgery: 1500 mg (2520 FIP units) of papain per day.