PAPAIN Overview Information
Papain is taken from the fruit of the papaya tree. It is used to make medicine.
Some people take papain by mouth for pain and swelling (inflammation) and to remove extra fluid following trauma and surgery. It is also taken by mouth to help with digestion, to treat parasitic worms, inflammation of the throat and pharynx, shingles (herpes zoster) symptoms, sore muscles, diarrhea, hay fever, runny nose, and a skin condition called psoriasis. Papain is also taken by mouth to treat the side effects of radiation therapy, or it may be used in combination with other therapies to treat tumors.
Some people apply papain directly to the skin to treat insect or animal bites, infected wounds, sores, and ulcers.
In manufacturing, papain is used in cosmetics, toothpaste, contact lens cleaners, meat tenderizers, and meat products.
How does it work?
Papain contains substances that may help fight infection.
Possibly Effective for:
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.
- 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 putting the area affected by a jellyfish sting into a solution containing papain (Aldolph's meat tenderizer) does not decrease pain as well as hot water alone.
- Illness caused by radiation therapy. Some early research suggests that taking a specific product (wobe-Mugose E, MucosPharma), containing papain, trypsin, and chymotrypsin, daily beginning 7 days before radiation therapy and continuing for 9 weeks thereafter may decrease skin reactions of radiation therapy. However, it does not seem to improve nausea, vomiting, or fatigue (tiredness) when taken by mouth every day beginning 3 days before radiation therapy and continuing until the end of radiation therapy.
- Wound healing. Early research suggests that applying a solution containing papain plus DMSO to the skin, followed by the use of ultrasound (a medical procedure that uses sound waves), might improve wound healing.
- Digestion problems.
- Hay fever.
- Intestinal worms.
- Runny nose.
- Treating infected wounds.
- 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.
Taking large amounts of papain by mouth is POSSIBLY UNSAFE. In excessive doses, papain may cause severe throat and stomach damage in some people. Also, applying raw papain or papaya fruit to the skin is POSSIBLY UNSAFE. Skin contact with raw papain can cause irritation and skin blisters in some people.
Some people may also be allergic to papain.
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: People who are allergic to fig and kiwi might also be allergic to papain.
Allergy to papain: Allergic reactions to papain have been reported in some people. Symptoms include runny nose, watery eyes, sweating, and diarrhea.
Bleeding disorders: Papain might increase the risk of bleeding in people with a clotting disorder. Do not use if you have 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 herpes zoster (shingles): An enzyme combination containing papain for 14 days.
- For pharyngitis:Lozenges containing 2 mg papain, 5 mg lysozyme, and 200 I.U. bacitracin for 4 days.