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I’m sure you’ve heard of those delicious orange fruits called papayas! Papayas themselves have all kinds of health benefits. For one, they are extremely fiber-rich. Also, the antioxidant content is extraordinarily high and fantastic to help with the maintenance of healthy cholesterol levels and atherosclerosis (the build-up of plaque in the arteries). 

Let’s focus on papain, the highly beneficial compound found in the leaves and fruit of the papaya. Papain is an enzyme which means it helps drive reactions in your body. For example, if you eat a hamburger, protease enzymes are secreted during digestion that help break down the meat, turning it into smaller protein molecules called amino acids. Enzymes that break down proteins are termed “proteolytic” enzymes. Papain, is also a proteolytic enzyme and it’s commonly found in meat tenderizer. Here are five other powerful benefits of papaya and papain:

Heal your skin and wounds 

Papaya fruit and leaf can both be applied to minor burns and wounds to speed up the healing process. We use a lot of triple antibiotic ointment in the United States, however, where drugs are not heavily promoted or allowed, families use natural remedies. As an example, in Latin America, Hawaii, and Tahiti, papain leaves are used commonly for burns. There are certain gels sold commercially.

Address sinus and breathing problems 

Papain can thin mucus, specifically by diluting sinus mucin, a glycoprotein found in mucus. In this way, papain could be great for helping you with chronic sinus infections.

Reduce bloating and diarrhea 

In a case study, a male patient with gluten intolerance added papain once daily, every day, for one month (while eating a gluten-free diet) and experienced better digestion, as well as improved stools, dramatically less diarrhea, and an obvious decrease in bloat.

Improve antioxidant capabilities 

Papain contains compounds that make it a potent antioxidant, helping to protect your body from cellular damage caused by free radicals. Papain, in fact, is an antioxidant on par with strong antioxidant vitamins like vitamins C and E.

Fight cancer  

The specific action papain has on cancer cells is by dissolving the thick protein coating around the cancer cell called fibrin. Other studies suggests that papaya juice has anti-proliferative effects which means it might slow metastasis. Finally, it can induce apoptosis which essentially, makes cancer cells run and hide.  

Papaya is obviously loaded with medicinal benefits. I recommend it so long as you’re not allergic to it, to its skin or to the pineapple enzyme called bromelain (there’s a cross-sensitivity). 

It’s easy to incorporate papaya and papain into your life. Supplements are widely available too. Supplementation might be a good idea if are supported on acid blocking drugs or PPI ulcer and reflux medications. If you sign up for my free newsletter at my website, suzycohen.com I will send you a longer version of this article, and explain more about this. I’ll also share my recipes, a papaya tea recipe and more medical information. 

More: Ask The Pharmacist: 6 ways to protect your eyesight

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Suzy Cohen is a registered pharmacist. The information presented here is not intended to treat, cure or diagnose any condition. Visit SuzyCohen.com.

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