How Papaya Enzyme Benefits Digestion

Papaw enzymeWhile eating fruit after a meal isn’t generally recommended as it can have a negative effect on your digestion, papaya is one of the few exceptions

Papaya fruit is a rich source of valuable proteolytic enzymes, such as papain, chymopapain, caricain and glycyl endopeptidase, that can greatly aid in the digestive process. This is especially true of meals that contain meat or other concentrated forms of protein.

But, as this page will show, papaya enzyme can have many other health benefits and may have an even more important role to play when taken on an empty stomach.

Protein Digestion and Papaya Enzymes

Many of us eat large amounts of low quality meat each week that can put great strain on our digestive system and enzyme producing pancreas. Processed meats, with additives such as the potentially carcinogenic sodium nitrite, are particularly worrying from a health perspective.

To make matters worse, rushed meals, extra large serving sizes, low digestive enzymes and stomach acid production, and poorly functioning digestive systems in general all contribute to this meat often ending up only partially digested by the time it reaches the lower intestine.

Here it can putrefy as it is acted upon by masses of flatulence causing bacteria. But smelly gas is the least of the potential health problems caused by undigested protein in the colon.

The place to fix flatulence and other more serious health issues associated with poor digestion, such as constipation, leaky gut syndrome and IBS, is not at the end of the process in the colon, but at the beginning.

There are certain foods that really need to be avoided for a while. Proper chewing is also important to break up food and can significantly assist carbohydrate digestion, but to get a head start on protein, proteolytic enzymes like the papain enzyme in papaya can really help.

What is Papain and What Does It Do?

The term proteolytic actually means protein digesting and, as an enzyme, papain is one of the most effective at breaking down meat and other proteins, comparable to the enzyme pepsin that we produce in our pancreas. In fact, papain is often preferred to pepsin in scientific cell isolation procedures as it is considered a more effective enzyme. It is also used commercially as a meat tenderizer.

Papain works by cleaving the peptide bonds of complex proteins, breaking them down to their individual amino acids, ready for use in the growth and repair of your body.

Introducing the papaya enzyme papain into a meal containing meat can significantly speed up its digestion. It may also help with the breakdown of other ‘troublesome’ proteins, such as the gluten in wheat and the casein in milk, that are often implicated in digestive problems.

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Other Papaya Digestive Enzyme Benefits

Some people suggest that papain and other plant based enzymes would be destroyed in the hydrochloric acid of the stomach and see no value in them.

However, other nutritional experts believe that while papain may be rendered inactive with high levels of stomach acid, at least some would continue working again once it passes through to the alkaline environment of the small intestine.

Papaya enzymes protein Aside from these varying views, there is often a period, estimated at around half an hour to an hour, between when food is first eaten and when large amounts of hydrochloric acid is produced. During this time, salivary enzymes and any plant-based enzymes in the food (or taken with it) begin the process of digestion. In this window of time the addition of papain into a meal can greatly increase protein breakdown.

Additionally, since papaya as a soft fruit doesn’t require much digestion itself, some of its enzymes may move into the small intestine before large amounts of stomach acid is produced. Once in our intestines, papain and other papaya enzymes can help clear undigested protein-based debris and waste products.

Aside from helping to clear bloating and flatulence issues, proteolytic enzymes may also aid more serious digestive problems such as irritable bowel syndrome and help prevent fungal candida overgrowth in the gastrointestinal tract.

Why Green Papaya is Better for Digestion

Green fruit contain significantly more papaya enzyme than those that are fully ripened. That said, perhaps with the exception of green papaya salad, it’s not as appetizing for most people. Bright orange papaya is also likely to contain more antioxidants and vitamins and have many other health benefits.

As a compromise, I personally use papayas that are just ripening but still have a little green on them. I’ll also use sections of fully green papaya in digestive and anti-parasite smoothies.

A convenient and potent alternative rich in papain enzyme are green papaya supplements. If fresh papaya is unavailable or too expensive, green papaya capsules can be taken with a meal high in protein and are an easy way to improve its digestion and avoid intestinal problems later on.

Papaya Enzyme on an Empty Stomach

While papaya enzymes are most often taken with food, another strategy that is gaining popularity is to take green papaya in the powder or capsules, or blended up in a smoothie, on an empty stomach.

Under these circumstances little hydrochloric acid would be produced and the papain and other enzymes could pass into the small intestine in larger amounts. From here they are believed to be absorbed into the bloodstream where they can exert an anti-inflammatory effect throughout the body.

Proteolytic enzymes in the bloodstream are known to reduce inflammation in your body, possibly by scavenging damaged and oxidized proteins. These damaged proteins are implicated in a variety of debilitating autoimmune disorders such as severe allergies, chronic fatigue syndrome and a weakened immune system that is much more vulnerable to infections and disease.

Papain and other proteolytic enzymes are also understood to break down fibrin protein, which is involved in both the formation of dangerous blood clots and provides a protective coating for cancer cells. It is this action of potentially dissolving cancerous cells protective coating that has many experts interested in papain for use in cancer prevention and possibly even as part of a treatment for cancer.

The protein digesting enzymes from papaya fruit are generally recognized as safe and well tolerated when used internally. Despite its many benefits, there are some papaya enzyme precautions and some potential papain side effects to be aware of which will be covered next.

Have you used papaya enzyme before to improve your digestion or reduce inflammation in your body? I’d appreciate hearing how they worked for you personally. If you’d like to try an even stronger source of papain and other papaya enzymes and alkaloids then see the page on the beneficial effects of papaya seeds.

Photo 1 credit: Normski’s / Photo 2 credit: jenn.b / Photo 3 credit: Barbara Dieu

46 Responses to “How Papaya Enzyme Benefits Digestion”

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  1. Laura (So Ca) says:

    I have been in a digestion and pain, burning, nausea cycle and struggle for about a month. Although I figured out I am low on Pancreatic enzymes (fat digestion has been hell), that didn’t solve this complex puzzle. Pancreatic Enzymes did kept the pain at bay during the night, but I was still having trouble digesting foods, and my stomach and intestines were inflamed and talking to me still, although I was feeling it was at least manageable.

    Dried Papaya (no added sugar or sulfur) has truly helped me with the burning and nausea, but I have also eating Ginger Chews. After 30+ plus days of left side pain, and all the other symptoms, I’m feeling normal.

    Mango is also one of my fruits, and I don’t normally eat fruit. Apples have a high pesticide level, so I gave them up. Papaya, Mango and Ginger are on the EWG List of Clean (Safe) Fruits.
    EWG=- Environmental Working Grp

    Papaya is not only one of my favs, it’s delicious. No pain, no inflammation, no nausea today!
    I will be eating Papaya, Mango, and Ginger Chews for another week as maintenance. The enzymes seem to have balanced my micro-flora. I also take probiotics. It was a tweek here and there, that “cured” me.

    • Jim Dillan says:

      Hi Laura and thanks for your comments.

      Papaya, mango and other tropical fruits like pineapple are often good for this purpose, as is ginger. I’m glad they are working so well for you.

      All the best.

    • Jess says:

      Step 1 – unclog digestive tract
      a. Stop eating all grains, all dairy, all acidic foods, and all processed sugars; also anything derived from any of these things, an example would be alcohol.
      b. Start eating foods high in pH(potential Hydrogen)
      c. Once your bowel movements are 3 to 5 times a day and the diameter of a nickel you can begin step 2

      Step 2 – Killing off Fungi
      a. Continue Step 1 a & b, and once a day take one 3 sugar cubes 1 teaspoon of 100% Pure Gum Spirits of Turpentine for four days.
      b. Massive detoxification begins to happen so be sure to drink 1 quart of water per 60 pounds of weight or you will get sick.

      Step 3 – Detoxing

      Step 4 – turn your system alkaline 7.3-7.5
      a. buy acid/alkaline test strips and test your urine, if you are acidic or neutral you need to be eating food high in alkaline minerals, google search alkaline mineral foods. You need to be 7.3-7.5.
      b. Keep your system alkaline and eat organic fruits, veggies, and meats often.

      For additional info google Jennifer Daniels her program cured me

    • Liana says:

      I also have pancreas issues (chronic pancreatitis) and had the same issues with pancreatic enzymes not doing much for me during the day. Papaya and ginger have been a huge help! The papaya really has done a lot more for me than even the prescribed lipase/amalayse/protease combo I was on for years. During my first episode of pancreatitis, my gall bladder was removed, and I certainly think the papaya does far more to break down fats. I’m glad to see someone else has seen the same sort of benefits!

      • Jim Dillan says:

        Hi Liana and thanks for your positive comments.

        I’m glad papaya enzymes are working so well for your pancreas issues and hope others find it helpful as well.

        All the best,


  2. Sa'ra says:

    I appreciate your articles concerning papaya seeds and will immed begin trying them and keeping a journal. I am challenged w celiac disease and am always searching for ways to improve my health! I will b in touch soon! ( just back from Wakiki where i discovered a dressing containing papaya seeds, honey, etc that delights my taste buds! Am searching for good place to purchase seeds!) aloha! Sa’ra

    • Jim Dillan says:

      Hi Sa’ra and thanks for your comments. I only recommend papaya seeds directly from the fresh papaya fruit as seeds sold for planting may have been treated with something.

      All the best.

  3. jeanie says:

    im just wondeering how this would help me. I have gastropaaresis which is delayed stomach emptying. Would like your thoughts on this please. thanks

    • Jim Dillan says:

      Hi Jeanie,

      The enzymes in papaya or papain supplements could help if the problem is related to protein digestion. You’d need to check with your practitioner though, especially before using papain as it’s quite powerful.

      Hope this helps

  4. Geraldine says:

    Jim, do you have any additional advice beyond papaya for small bowel bacteria overgrowth. It seems to be a widespread problem without a cure.

    • Jim Dillan says:

      Hi Geraldine,

      Papaya and indeed papaya seeds may be part of a treatment for small bowel bacteria overgrowth but you’d need to address the underlying causes, such as too many carbohydrates in the diet or milk sensitivity. I’d suggest researching this on where many natural treatments are discussed.

      Hope this helps,


  5. michael says:

    I consider myself a very health person (haven’t gotten a cold or flu in 4 years) but beginning about 2 years ago i began to experience bloating after even very small meals. Beer (even just 12 oz), pasta, ice cream became impossible to eat without suffering for several hours from a severe bloated feeling. Sometimes I would eat nothing all day and still feel full at dinnertime! My daughter suggested enzymes so I bought a $6.00 bottle of chewable Papaya Enzyme at the drugstore and began eating two after each meal. It’s only been one week but I already feel back to normal. No bloating or discomfort, almost no gas (that was becoming a problem too), even had pizza last night for the first time in weeks and felt great afterward. These things are amazing and there is no question my “cure” is attributable to the Papaya Enzyme because this problem was serious and continuous and now appears to be gone. I’m hoping there is no harm in taking them long term because I plan to
    continue taking these daily.

  6. cm says:

    Papaya enzyme has made it possible for me to eat outside food. Before I started taking Papaya Enzyme every time I ate food other than my own I would have to use the bathroom within 15-20 minutes of finishing eating. It didn’t matter if I ate junk or a salad. My friends always made fun of me, I am only in my 20’s with stomach issues. My one friend told me that her grandma had the same problem and took papaya enzyme to help her. I take Papaya within the first few bites of food and Now I am fine. If I forget to take the Papaya I am sick within minutes.

    Finally I can eat lunch with everyone else at work with no worries. Papaya has made eating out enjoyable again. No rushing home anymore.

    • Jim Dillan says:

      Hi there and thanks for your comments.

      It sounds like papaya enzymes have been particularly beneficial for you. I’m glad they’re working so well.

  7. Angelika says:

    Another good thing about Papaya is that it is an excellent food option for diabetics as it has a low-sugar content even though it is sweet to taste.

  8. Rosalin says:

    I discovered first Papua fruit and then papaya enzymes after problems and pain with digestion and acid reflux. I was diagnosed with a 4cm parasophogeal hiatal hernia which caused me no end of grief. The papaya enzymes have been a god send and allow me to enjoy certain foods again.

  9. bella123 says:

    Hi Jim,
    I really want to do this detox but I don’t think the papaya seeds agree with me. I did as you said, taking it slowly. I took only one the first day, chewed on that. (wasn’t too bad). Second day took two but not at the same time maybe 1/2 hour apart. Well that second seed did me in. The first symptom was dizziness and I had no idea it came upon me with no warning. I felt like I was drunk almost fell to the ground. It just got worst after that….. I felt an unbelievable high heart rate, big time nervousness but at the same time weakness at the legs, my throat was closing in on me and my jaw locked. It felt to me like something was joking me from the inside. I kept calm because I was home alone when I did this and I didn’t want to panic. This was around the time I was going to have dinner. So I tried to shove bread down my throat and drinking a lot of water to soak everything I just ingested. I did not want to make myself throw up to release whatever was there so I just kept drinking water. I felt bit better but I thought I was going to die. I was so scared. I read a lot about papaya seeds and it says that its safe and good for you, and man did I have a bad reaction. It lingered for a few days. Do you know anything about these symptoms and why I reacted this way when everyone else on here were fine. Oh another thing, do you think I could do the pumpkin seed one without so much attack on the system? Will wait on your reply. Thank you so much.

    • Jim Dillan says:

      Hi Bella,

      I’ve never heard of such a reaction to papaya seeds but in your case I would avoid them due to this.

      The pumpkin seeds work with completely different compounds so there’s no reason to think they would cause the same reaction. There’s a recipe here that is especially good for tapeworms

      You could also look into green black walnut hull extract which is more of a whole body parasite treatment

      Hope this helps,


      • loren says:

        Hi all, Im 65 yr old male and like to experiment with diet. Have been eating 4 to 5 tbls. of fresh and sun dried papaya seeds org, of course. I sprinkle on/in with my rice and vegies. very nice flavor. for about 2 weeks now. have not noticed any side effects other than my urinary tract seems mildly irritated and Im not alarmed by this. I live in Cambodia and have been concerned about parasites. I plan to do this for a few months as I enjoy the flavor and am hoping to notice something positive. will check in again. I noticed that one person querried about hep b. I have some experience with curing hep with beets. it works. Beet juice mixed with carrot. you cant take to much beet juice as it will make you sick so the trick is to mix about 3 carrot to 1 beet juice ratio and increase ratio of beet to carrot if you can stomach it. also nibbling small pieces of org beets through out the day. I believe and it is my experience that hep can be cured with beets. It takes about 2 to 3 weeks of serious beet eating. the beet purifies the blood and liver. I have seen this with my own eyes a man jaundiced could hardly walk and after 2 weeks of eating beets was normal.good luck all. Loren

  10. Brad says:

    I’ve had bad stomach problems for decades. In the last few years I’ve been narrowing down the problem. It’s relying on doctors, most all don’t have a clue. I’ve read many sites mentioning burning mouth, especially in the morning. I’ve heard my stomach, sorry, lower intestine growl, squirming from I’ll bet, no, I know are a variety of worms. And parasites of numerous types I’ve got. I tried and believed in supplements but their effect was minimal. All in the process I’ve come to learn. There is nothing better to kill off the parasites and worms in our lower intestines than God given fresh fruits. The bugs that have evolved to enter our bodies and set up shop there must be countered by the fruits that have evolved right along with them over eons. In the lower latitudes mothers of children give their children papaya fruit and seeds when they see signs of infestation, and it works. The dusty playgrounds, green forests, natural environs in which they play are breeding grounds for worms and parasites to enter their bodies vie the air, into their lungs, move to the digestive tract, or through bare feet and move to the dijestive tract. Papaya and its seeds do a real cleansing by ridding the digestive tract, indeed the whole body eventually, of this now 1st world problem. I’m just glad that we have sites like this, abd people like Jim, to expose ways to treat thie awful problem that exists for many, many people. I hope that we can turn the tide and prevent the ugly efforts of mainstream medicine using draconian, useless, overly expensive, methods to ruin us and more particularly, our Ill bet temporarily sickened children. Mainstream medicine is the worst way to mend ourselves”

    • Jim Dillan says:

      Thanks for your comments Brad and I really hope the papaya seed smoothie works well for you.

      I agree that nature has the answer to parasites and tropical fruits like papaya and it’s seeds, pineapple and coconut have been used by people in these areas for a long time to combat parasites. It makes sense to use what already works naturally rather than toxic drugs wherever possible.

      All the best,


  11. Kay says:

    I am on day 6 of the papaya seed smoothie cleanse. I’m using the salt water flush as the natural laxative. So far I haven’t seen any parasites or worms. I am sure I have parasites in me because I’ve been having migraines, tremors, teeth grinding, bloating, chronic fatigue, colds and flus for a long period of time. Sometimes I feel anal itching especially in the middle of the night. I will continue with the cleanse for a total of 10 days. Is that enough or do I have to do a longer cleanse? I’m hoping to see some parasites or worms being expelled soon. How many days of cleansing do I have to do before I see anything worms or parasites come out? I’m also eating a lot of pumpkin seeds as a snack.

    • Jim Dillan says:

      Hi Kay,

      Generally only the larger worms like tapeworms and sometimes roundworms can be seen, though they are often compacted in the stools. There are a lot of smaller parasites like pinworms (responsible for the anal itching) and parasitic amoebas that won’t be seen without detailed microscopic examination. This doesn’t mean they aren’t been expelled though.

      An improvement in your symptoms, perhaps after some initial detoxification reaction, is usually a better guide to whether the treatment is working.

      I’d suggest following the directions in Papaya Seeds Treatment Timing and Duration in this article as this is designed to deal with parasite’s breeding cycles.

      Hope this helps,


  12. doris says:

    Hi Jim,
    I have just read some of the things on here and about papayas. It was interested to learn about a few things. What do u use papaya seeds for and how do u use them? the one guy apparently was allergic to them. Could this be use for weight loss also? I will do more reading on the subject.

  13. Tammi says:

    I came across this article from a friend that said papaya enzymes may help me. I had IBS my whole life. I always used diet to control it. I ate a lot of fiber. Last year I had my gall bladder out and instantly I couldn’t keep a meal down. 8 months of this raising two young kids my specialist finally put me on a drug to help, I hate the idea of knowing I have to take this pill with every meal i eat for the rest of my life I have to admit it works. However it comes a long with a lot of heart burn, gas and gas pain. Do you think papaya enzymes is something that may work for me?

  14. Rosario says:


    I made a papaya smoothie this morning and left the seed in. Immediately after a few sips, my stomach began to burn. I drank the remaining smoothie with some whole wheat toast and I felt okay. I read that I needed to start by only eating a teaspoon of seeds only after the burning in my stomach. Could it have been a cold war between some parasites and the papaya smoothie? Let it be, it sounds more adventurous.


    • Jim Dillan says:

      Hi Rosario,

      It’s definitely worth starting off slowly with powerful natural treatments like papaya seeds. This article has a good rundown of how to use them and recommends just a teaspoon at a time to start

      If you had all of the seeds in the papaya or a large portion I’m not surprised that your stomach told you about it as this would be too much to start with. Even at the stronger dose for the smoothie after building up your tolerance no more than a tablespoon should be taken.

      Hope this helps,


  15. Yvonne says:

    After reading all these reviews, I will definiely try papaya enzymes. I have had stomach issues since a child and have recently had a battery of tests that showed nothing. I am currently on a diet with lots of protein which, from reading other reviews, could be the reason I am all of a sudden feeling burning in my stmach at times, and I have always had constipation problems. Don’t think papaya will help that, but I am going to try it as soon as I can find it for the burning and will let you know.

    • Jim Dillan says:

      Hi Yvonne,

      Green papaya enzymes like these could help with the constipation issues as well since poorly digested meat is a common cause.

      It sounds like your protein meals might be a bit large for your digestive processes to handle. The papaya enzymes should help but a bit smaller meals or avoiding the particularly hard to digest protein like processed meats would also be worth trying.

      Hope this helps,


  16. charles says:

    Just a suggestion, if you want to eat and enjoy eating green papaya, eat a Thai dish called Somtom. It’s spicy, hot, and made mostly from green papaya, and taste great especially with sticky rice.

  17. Santi says:

    You have mention the green papaya seeds most of the article, how about the ripe papaya seeds? Does it have the same benefits?

    • Jim Dillan says:

      Hi Santi,

      The ripe papaya seeds are full of enzymes and more developed in the ripe fruit. This article was more on green papaya fruit which are more enzyme rich than the ripe fruit. The seeds are much more powerful though

      Hope this helps,


      • kat says:

        when my dad was in hospice care for the final stages of lung cancer, the nurse told us to five him papaya or a papain supplement to help break up the mucous in his mouth and throat to aid in swallowing. It seemed to help him. Also, if you can find food grade diatomaceous earth to mix with your papaya smoothie, it will help to completely cleanse the digestive tract. I used it on my animals for years, and now have started to take it my self! Amazing results with one tsp mixed into my fruit smoothie. It also has beneficial properties for joint repair.

        • Jim Dillan says:

          Hi Kat and thanks for your comments.

          It’s interesting that a nurse would recommend papaya. I agree with diatomaceous earth as well.

          All the best,


  18. Mary says:

    Any suggestions on papaya enzymes for Gastroparesis?

  19. Cordell says:

    Would the belize Caribbean red papaya seeds work the same? Where can I get the green papaya fruit?

    • Jim Dillan says:

      Hi Cordell,

      Yes these are great. You just want them slightly under ripe so there’s still a little green on them.

      All the best,


  20. Nita says:

    I just starting the papaya enzyme complex and hope it will help with my Chronic Pancreantitis and the 8yrs. of constant pain.

  21. Dana says:

    Am glad to here more from you. My son had stomach problems, vomiting and diarrhea, stomach pains. Doc said it was bacteria but i thought he had problem with digesting french beans i had given him a day earlier. Antibiotics didn’t work for him so one day i forced him to eat a papaya fruit and the following day he was playing normally.

    • Jim Dillan says:

      Hi Dana and thanks for your comments.

      Yes papaya can have a very soothing effect on the digestive tract. Glad it worked so well for him.

      All the best,


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