Bromelain vs. Papain

Instructor: Alexandra Unfried

Alexandra earned her master's degree in nursing education and is currently a hospital supervisor/administrator.

Bromelain and papain are both enzymes that break down proteins in the body and aid digestion. However, they also have different abilities to help the body function. This lesson will discuss the difference between bromelain and papain.

Need Help Digesting

Jackie has had irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) for several years. IBS is a disorder of the large intestine that causes gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain, and cramping. It can get worse when triggered by food, stress, or illness. Jackie is usually able to control her IBS by avoiding certain foods. However, the IBS gets worse when she is under stress. She wants to avoid medication so she decides to research natural ways to control her symptoms as she is transitioning jobs. She is looking at supplemental enzymes.

Protein Enzymes

Enzymes are in charge of causing many different reactions in the body including cell metabolism, and chemical reactions. There are many different enzymes that are responsible for specific reactions. Pepsin is a naturally occurring enzyme that breaks down proteins. Therefore it is known as a protease enzyme and plays a large role in digesting the proteins in food.


Bromelain is an enzyme that is found in the stem and juice of pineapples. It digests protein similarly to pepsin and is in the protease enzyme family. Bromelain has been shown to be beneficial for several diseases.

Bromelain is found in the stem and juice of pineapple
Bromelain is found in the stem and juice of pineapple

Bromelain has been shown to:

  • Aid in digestion
  • Reduce bloating
  • Reduce gas
  • Relieve symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome
  • Reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases (heart attack, stroke, hypertension, blood clots)
  • Decrease pain and inflammation in osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis
  • Reduce progression of cancer and tumors
  • Decrease healing time in wounds caused by burns
  • Decrease pain and inflammation after surgery

Bromelain is often used as an adjunct therapy combined with medication and other enzymes and vitamins to treat disease. It can be used by itself for basic digestive help with digestion, gas, bloating, and constipation by decreasing inflammation of the intestines and colon.

Jackie is interested in bromelain because it aids in digestion, reduces bloating, and reduces gas which are all symptoms that she has when her IBS is present. She continues to research digestive enzymes to see what her other options are.


Papain is an enzyme that is found in papayas (especially when unripe). It is very similar to pepsin as well and is also in the protease enzyme family. Papain digests protein and is helpful to those with digestive problems. Papain can also be used to reduce inflammation and helps with other disorders.

Papain is found in papaya
Papian is found in papaya

Papain has been shown to:

  • Aid in digestion
  • Reduce pain, swelling, and fluid build-up after trauma or surgery
  • Reduce joint pain
  • Decrease healing time in skin conditions (burns, wounds, insect bites, and rashes)
  • Reduce symptoms from shingles
  • Decrease pain and swelling in the throat
  • Treat parasitic worms
  • Decrease diarrhea
  • Reduce symptoms of hay fever and runny nose
  • Help control psoriasis

Papain should also be used with medications and other enzymes and vitamins to be effective.

Jackie realizes that papain is also a good choice for her IBS symptoms since it aids in digestion and reduces diarrhea. She meets with her doctor to discuss her options.

Comparison of Bromelain and Papain

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