Papain is taken from the fruit of the papaya tree. It is used to make medicine.

Papain is used for pain and swelling (inflammation) as well as fluid retention following trauma and surgery. It is used as a digestive aid and for treating parasitic worms, inflammation of the throat and pharynx, shingles (herpes zoster) symptoms, ongoing diarrhea, hay fever, runny nose, and a skin condition called psoriasis. Papain is also used along with conventional treatments for tumors.

Some people apply papain directly to the skin to treat infected wounds, sores, and ulcers.

In manufacturing, papain is used in cosmetics, toothpaste, enzymatic soft contact lens cleaners, meat tenderizers, and meat products. It is also used for stabilizing and chill-proofing beer.

How it works

Papain contains substances called enzymes that help break down proteins.


Possibly Effective
Herpes zoster (shingles)

Taking papain by mouth might improve some symptoms of shingles.

Sore throat and throat swelling (pharyngitis)

Taking papain by mouth, together with other treatments, might relieve sore throat and swelling.


Likely safe

Papain is LIKELY SAFE when taken by mouth in amounts commonly found in foods

Possibly safe

It is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken by mouth in medicinal amounts and when applied the skin as a solution in appropriate amounts. It can cause irritation of the throat and stomach

Possibly unsafe

Taking large amounts of papain by mouth is POSSIBLY UNSAFE. In excessive doses, papain can cause severe throat damage. Also, applying raw papain to the skin is POSSIBLY UNSAFE. Skin contact with raw papain can cause irritation and blisters.There have also been reports of severe allergic reactions.



Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Taking papain by mouth duringpregnancyisPOSSIBLY UNSAFE. There is a concern that it might cause birth defects ormiscarriage. Not enough is known about the safety of using papain duringbreast-feeding. Do not use it if you arepregnantor breast-feeding.Are there any interactions with medications?

Allergy to fig or kiwi fruit: One case report suggests that people who are allergic to fig and kiwi might also be allergic to papain.

Bleeding disorders: There is a concern that papain might increase the risk of bleeding in people with a clotting disorder.

Surgery: Papain might increase the risk of bleeding during surgery. Stop taking papain 2 weeks before surgery.


Always consult with your doctor.
Warfarin (Coumadin)

Warfarin (Coumadin) is used to slow blood clotting. Papain might increase the effects of warfarin (Coumadin) and increase the chances of bruising and bleeding. Be sure to have your blood checked regularly. The dose of your warfarin (Coumadin) might need to be changed..

The information provided on this page is for reference purposes and is not meant to be used as a medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always consult with a medical professional.