Q. My wife and I have found that papaya enzyme is a quick solution for heartburn and upset stomach and calms the effects of niacin. I have been in a heart study for the past 13 years. I started with four tablets of niacin, but the hot flashes and rash were so miserable, I had to cut my dosage to two tablets.

When I started taking papaya enzyme, the result was fantastic. Besides not suffering heartburn, I could return to four tablets of niacin.

Last year I was switched to Niacin CR, which is not as drastic. If I start to get hot flashes, I chew a couple of papaya tablets and the flashes fade away quickly.

A. Papaya is popular in tropical countries and papaya extracts are sometimes used as digestive enzymes. A modest double-blind placebo-controlled trial in Vienna, Austria, found that papaya extract eased symptoms of bloating and constipation (Neuroendocrinology Letters, Jan., 2013).

We’ve not heard that it can provide relief from the itching and flushing associated with high dose niacin. Nicotinic acid, as niacin is known, is effective for lowering LDL cholesterol and helping to raise HDL cholesterol, believed to be protective against heart disease. It does have potential side effects, including intense flushing and itching that some people cannot tolerate. Thanks for sharing your experience.

We discuss niacin and other approaches to getting blood lipids into a healthy range in our Guide to Cholesterol Control and Heart Health.

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  1. cpmt

    I AM VERY ALLERGIC TO LATEX. and I don’t have problem with papaya. but the best is to try before you eat a whole papaya. probably the seeds milk & contain the latex.

  2. Barbara

    I have read that if you are allergic to latex, you can’t have papaya as it is related to latex. Have you heard of this?
    People’s Pharmacy response: We have heard this. Banana, Avocado, Chestnut, Kiwi also cross react.

  3. barbara

    How much papaya extract do you take and how often?
    The only papaya extract pills I have seen are 100mg.

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