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Papaya Enzymes for an Upset Stomach

By Lynn DeVries

Most people these days are familiar with the tropical fruit, papaya. But did you know that it isn’t just for adding flavor to a fruit salad? It’s also a very potent medicinal plant. According to Medicinal Herb Info, papaya originated in the tropical areas of the Americas. Now it is also cultivated in southern China and other tropical areas of Asia. Since this fruit is cultivated so widely, the fruit is now available year round in most places.

Papaya & Stomach Problems

Among the many health benefits papaya offers is the enzyme papain, which is used to aid digestion. According to the World's Healthiest Foods website, papain is most concentrated in unripe papayas. Various dietary supplements are made from the extracted papain and it’s even used as an ingredient in some chewing gum. The site also reports that papain is sometimes used to treat sports injuries, trauma and allergies.

Research

A study by A. C. Ezike, et al, published in the December 2009 edition of the "Journal of Medicinal Food" suggests that papaya extracts are helpful in treating stomach ulcers. Of course, a simple upset stomach would not be as difficult to treat by eating papaya. But there needs to be much more clinical study, especially in humans, before papaya’s effectiveness treating stomach upset can be determined.

Nutritional Info

The World's Healthiest Foods site lists Vitamins A, C, E and K as some of the nutrients found in papaya. The fruit is also a rich source of folate, potassium, minerals, fatty acids, amino acids and dietary fiber. So the next time you consider a safe, nutritious way to help an upset stomach, papaya might come to mind.

Forms Used

Although the highest concentration of papain enzymes are contained in papayas that are not yet ripe, you probably only want to try taking it in a dietary supplement. But the ripe papaya still contains some papain and is a much more palatable way to ingest it. The HealthSquare.com website says that in spite of the fact that most people discard the black seeds inside the papaya fruit, they are edible and have a peppery taste. Papaya can also be found as dried fruit slices, frozen fruit, juice and papaya tea bags.

Caution

Any supplement or food can cause an allergic reaction, even if taken previously with no reaction. Watch for any swelling of the face, lips or tongue while taking papaya. According to the World's Healthiest Foods, papayas contain substances that can trigger latex allergies in people affected by latex-fruit allergy syndrome. If you are allergic to latex, you should use caution when eating or taking papaya. If any allergic symptoms occur, stop eating or taking it and contact your health care provider.

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