Proteolytic Enzymes
What is it? Overview Usage Side Effects and Warnings

What are Proteolytic Enzymes?

Proteolytic enzymes (proteases) help you digest the proteins in food. Although your body produces these enzymes in the pancreas, certain foods also contain proteolytic enzymes.

Papaya and pineapple are two of the richest plant sources, as attested by their traditional use as natural "tenderizers" for meat. Papain and bromelain are the respective names for the proteolytic enzymes found in these fruits. The enzymes made in your body are called trypsin and chymotrypsin.

The primary use of proteolytic enzymes is as a digestive aid for people who have trouble digesting proteins. However, proteolytic enzymes may also be absorbed internally to some extent and may reduce pain and inflammation.

The most obvious use of proteolytic enzymes is to assist digestion. However, a small double-blind, placebo-controlled trial found no benefit from proteolytic enzymes as a treatment for dyspepsia (indigestion). 1 Proteolytic enzymes can also be absorbed into the body whole and may help reduce inflammation and pain; 2 however, the evidence is inconsistent. Several studies found that proteolytic enzymes might be helpful for neck pain , osteoarthritis , and post-herpetic neuralgia (an aftereffect of shingles). 3 However, all of these studies suffer from significant limitations (such as the absence of a placebo group ), and none provide substantially reliable information.

Studies performed decades ago suggest that proteolytic enzymes may help reduce the pain and discomfort that...

Safety Issues

In studies, proteolytic enzymes are believed to have proven to be quite safe, although they can occasionally cause digestive upset and allergic reactions.

One proteolytic enzyme, pancreatin, may interfere with folate absorption. 4 In addition, the proteolytic enzyme papain might increase the blood-thinning effects of warfarin and possibly other anticoagulants. 5 The proteolytic enzyme bromelain might also cause problems if combined with drugs that thin the blood. In addition, there are concerns that bromelain should not be mixed with sedative drugs. Finally, bromelain may increase blood concentrations of certain antibiotics. For more information, see the full Bromelain article.

Interactions You Should Know About

If you are taking: