What are Papain and Bromelain?
Papain is an enzyme coming from the papaya fruit (Carica papaya) that is used in the breakdown of proteins into amino acids during digestion (also known as a proteolytic enzyme). The papaya plant is native to Mexico and central Africa, where a sweet, tropical fruit is produced. The Papain produced in the fruit has been used for decades to aid in total digestion and significantly increase the nutrient absorption of protein based foods.1 Papaya is often used as a meat tenderiser due to its ability to break down the proteins in meat.2
Bromelain is also a proteolytic enzyme that is present in the juice found in the fruit and the stem of the pineapple (Ananas comosus). The plant thrives in dry and tropical climates in regions of central and Southern America.
When proteins are cooked, the cooking process often destroys many of the naturally occurring enzymes in the food that are needed to help breakdown the protein during digestion. The addition of these enzymes to the diet assist the body in the digestion of the proteins, which the body can often struggle with when the naturally occurring enzymes in food are no longer present, due to heating or processing.3
What are the health benefits of the enzymes?
The protein enzymes Papain and Bromelain present in papaya and pineapple have many health benefits to the body in addition to assisting in the breakdown of proteins during digestion.
Bromelain is well renowned for its anti-inflammatory properties. The consumption of an anti-inflammatory is crucial when trying to reduce inflammation (swelling) in the body. This could occur after strenuous exercise, injury, or an illness. Studies show that when acting as an anti-inflammatory in the nasal cavity during illness or hay fever, it can help to decongest the sinuses.4
Moreover, it is known for its ability to reduce swelling of the prostate. A study conducted by the University of Maryland has shown the ability of Papain in conjunction with other anti-inflammatories to help conditions such as prostatitis.8
Additionally, the enzyme can assists in the relieving of pain caused from arthritis, bruising, and carpal tunnel syndrome.4 Bromelain can also act as an oedema inhibitor, which is the process of blood cells leaking fluid to near by tissues.5
Much research has been performed on Papain’s wound caring properties. Some studies are currently being done on the ability of the enzyme to heal burns, open sores, irritations, and wounds, when applied topically; the skin of the papaya is placed directly on the wound due to it sourcing the highest concentration of Papain in the fruit.1
One study has shown that it helped to remove dead tissue present on wounds (defibration) on animals, and assist in a rapid healing process.2
Much like its cousin Bromelain, Papain also contains anti-inflammatory properties. When entered into the bloodstream, it assists in reducing pain and inflammation throughout the body and helps to rid the body of fluid retention. The enzyme can help to heal the body of joint pain caused from arthritis and help to relieve lower back pain and swelling.6
Who should take Bromelain and Papain?
Though large amounts of Bromelain and Papain are not required for daily health, they are extremely beneficial to ensure optimum digestion of proteins and absorption of nutrients. The addition of these enzymes to your diet will provide a better digestive process that could otherwise be disrupted due to the lack of enzymes present in protein foods that are cooked or processed.7
When the body is experiencing any kind of inflammation or pain, due to exercise, injury, or illness, the addition of these enzymes to your diet would help to significantly reduce the length of the healing process and reduce pain levels in the body.
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