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Taking the Papaya Enzyme for Heartburn

written by: Rochelle Connery • edited by: BStone • updated: 3/19/2011

The papaya enzyme has long been touted as a heartburn reliever. Discover why this natural remedy works and how you can take it to relieve heartburn or even prevent heartburn before it occurs.

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    How Papaya Works

    The papaya enzyme comes from the papaya fruit, which has a yellowish tropical flesh that can be eaten on its own, swallowed as a juice or taken as a supplement. Heartburn sufferers often take papaya enzymes to guard against a heartburn attack or to stop heartburn in progress. The reason papaya works is in the way the stomach digests food.

    The stomach needs enzymes to digest food. Stomach acid is supposed to provide those, but it doesn’t always work the way it should. Thus, supplementing the digestion process with enzymes helps the stomach do its job while making it less painful on your chest and esophagus. The papaya works because it provides an enzyme called papain. This enzyme is thought to assist in digestion and to relieve heartburn. However, papaya is not a substitute for medicines like Gaviscon or Maalox, which help to cool or control the acid flowing out of the stomach.

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    How to Take

    Papaya supplements come in many shapes and sizes. You can get them in small tablet form in the organic section of some grocery stores as well as in a capsule form at health and fitness locations.

    Some also come as bigger chewable tablets about the size of a nickel. Depending on the amount of papaya in the tablet, users can generally take several per day to help with heartburn. Always read the package directions to find out exactly what the daily recommendation is for that specific make and brand.

    It’s better to use papaya as a preventative medicine than as a reactive medicine. As previously mentioned, it won’t stop heartburn that’s already begun, but it will help with the remainder of the digestion and perhaps curtail the heartburn.

    If you know you’re about to eat something that won’t agree with your stomach, or if you’ve been having several bouts of heartburn recently, take the papaya enzyme along with your meal instead of waiting until you experience side effects. This way the papaya can start working with your stomach’s digestion, rather than trying to fix the problem later.

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    Precautions

    Certain heartburn sufferers might not be able to take papaya supplements if they are on other medication or have other health conditions. For example, pregnant women cannot take certain forms of papaya enzymes, as they have been known to cause uterine contractions.

    Those with liver problems, alcoholism and those taking blood thinners should avoid or take precautions when using, as papaya may cause adverse reactions or increase the severity of the medication.

    Papaya enzymes can cause allergic reactions in some. These reactions include nausea, itching and rashes. Although these are probably fairly rare symptoms, keep an eye out for how you react after taking your first few doses.

    Sources:

    Pharmacy Health: Papaya Enzyme Side Effects

    Fit Sugar: Papaya Is Natural Heartburn Remedy

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