4 Herbs with Enzymes to Optimize Digestion

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Updated: Dec 06, 2021

4 Herbs with Enzymes to Optimize Digestion

Most healthy individuals need no assistance with their normal digestive processes, but there are many who do suffer from certain digestion problems, either because of their genetics, diet, or lifestyle. In such cases, there is a lot to be gained by including the right herbs in a daily diet, especially those that contain enzymes to optimize digestion. For healthy people, these herbs are still worth considering as they can nonetheless help prevent future digestive problems and bring other benefits to boot. Keep reading to discover four herbs to improve digestion!

1. Papaya (Carica papaya)

There are studies that show papaya to be an excellent fruit for optimizing digestion, and it is actually frequently used as a natural remedy in tropical countries for the purposes of treating abnormal digestion.

A recent study showed that a papaya preparation can help maintain optimal digestive tract physiology and improve disturbances such as symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).1 The reason for this is mainly the presence of a proteolytic enzyme called papain, which aids protein digestion.

2. Aloe (Aloe vera)

While the beneficial effects of this herb on the digestive system have been widely documented, the research is less conclusive when compared with papaya. The thick leaves of the aloe vera plant contain two enzymes, lipase and amylase, which help to break down both fats and starches.2

Additionally, there are claims that it helps with the last stage of digestion - eliminating waste from the body - thanks to some of its non-enzyme phytocompounds. The anthraquinones and barbaloin in aloe are thought to be responsible for stimulating the bowel and effectively making aloe function as a laxative.

3. Pineapple (Ananas comosus)

Among the best herbs for digestion, pineapple is in close competition with papaya for the top spot. This tropical fruit contains an enzyme called bromelain, which helps break down protein.

The pineapple fruit has been used for centuries in Central and South America as a popular remedy for treating indigestion.3 Bromelain, a group of proteases, is found in the stem and in the juice; it was first isolated from the pineapple in the 19th century.

4. Ginger (Zingiber officinale)

The digestive benefits of ginger have been known in Chinese medicine for over 2,000 years; it is a key tool for a well functioning gastrointestinal system. The edible part of ginger, which grows underground and is called rhizoma, contains the enzyme zingibain, which helps break down certain proteins.

In addition, studies have shown that ginger is a spice that enhances fat digestion and bile production, ensuring that the food runs smoothly through the digestive tract.4

Consuming herbs that are known to aid digestion is not a cure for serious health problems, but it is a good way for healthy individuals to protect against future health issues as well as people suffering from digestive disturbances to complement medical therapies. In any case, the aforementioned herbs have a wide range of health benefits that can be enjoyed by incorporating them into the diet.


  • Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, Fat digestion and absorption in spice-pretreated rats, 2012
  • National Institutes of Health, Drug Record: Aloe vera (Aloe barbadensis)
  • NYU Langone Medical Center, Proteolytic Enzymes
  • University of Utah, Healthcare, Aloe
  • University of Maryland Medical Center, Bromelain | Ginger


  1. Neuro Endocrinology Letters. (2013). Papaya preparation (Caricol®) in digestive disorders. Retrieved October 27, 2021, from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23524622/ 
  2. Journal of Research in Medical Sciences. (2013). Aloe vera in treatment of refractory irritable bowel syndrome: Trial on Iranian patients. Retrieved October 27, 2021, from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3872617/
  3. Food Chemistry. (2012). Characterisation of commercial papain, bromelain, actinidin and zingibain protease preparations and their activities toward meat proteins. Retrieved October 27, 2021, from: https://pubag.nal.usda.gov/catalog/433201
  4. Journal of Neurogastroenterology and Motility.(2011). The Effects of Ginger on Gallbladder Motility in Healthy Male Humans. Retrieved October 27, 2021, from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3228982/