enzyme therapy

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Related to enzyme therapy: Enzyme replacement therapy

Enzyme Therapy



Enyzme therapy is a plan of dietary supplements of plant and animal enzymes used to facilitate the digestive process and improve the body's ability to maintain balanced metabolism.


In traditional medicine, enzyme supplements are often prescribed for patients suffering from disorders that affect the digestive process, such as cystic fibrosis, Gaucher's disease, and celiac disease. A program of enzyme supplementation is rarely recommended for healthy patients. However, proponents of enzyme therapy believe that such a program is beneficial for everyone. They point to enzymes' ability to purify the blood, strengthen the immune system, enhance mental capacity, cleanse the colon, and maintain proper pH balance in urine. They feel that by improving the digestive process, the body is better able to combat infection and disease.
Some evidence exists that pancreatic enzymes derived from animal sources are helpful in cancer treatment. The enzymes may be able to dissolve the coating on cancer cells and may make it easier for the immune system to attack the cancer.
A partial list of the wide variety of complaints and illnesses that can be treated by enzyme therapy includes:
  • AIDS
  • anemia
  • alcohol consumption
  • anxiety
  • acute inflammation
  • back pain
  • cancer
  • colds
  • chronic fatigue syndrome
  • colitis
  • constipation
  • diarrhea
  • food allergies
  • gastritis
  • gastric duodenal ulcer
  • gout
  • headaches
  • hepatitis
  • hypoglycemia
  • infections
  • mucous congestion
  • multiple sclerosis
  • nervous disorders
  • nutritional disorders
  • obesity
  • premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
  • stress



Enzymes are protein molecules used by the body to perform all of its chemical actions and reactions. The body manufactures several thousands of enzymes. Among them are the digestive enzymes produced by the stomach, pancreas, small intestine, and the salivary glands of the mouth. Their energy-producing properties are responsible for not only the digestion of nutrients, but their absorption, transportation, metabolization, and elimination as well.
Enzyme therapy is based on the work of Dr. Edward Howell in the 1920s and 1930s. Howell proposed that enzymes from foods work in the stomach to pre-digest food. He advocated the consumption of large amounts of plant enzymes, theorizing that if the body had to use less of its own enzymes for digestion, it could store them for maintaining metabolic harmony. Four categories of plant enzymes are helpful in predigestion: protease, amylase, lipase, and cellulase. Cellulase is particularly helpful because the body is unable to produce it.
Animal enzymes, such as pepsin extracted from the stomach of pigs, work more effectively in the duodenum. They are typically used for the treatment of nondigestive ailments.
The seven categories of food enzymes and their activities
  • amylase breaks down starches
  • cellulase breaks down fibers
  • lactase breaks down dairy products
  • lipase breaks down fats
  • maltase breaks down grains
  • protease breaks down proteins
  • sucrase breaks down sugars
Enzyme theory generated further interest as the human diet became more dependent on processed and cooked foods. Enzymes are extremely sensitive to heat, and temperatures above 118°F (48°C) destroy them. Modern processes of pasteurization, canning, and microwaving are particularly harmful to the enzymes in food.
Enzyme supplements are extracted from plants like pineapple and papaya and from the organs of cows and pigs. The supplements are typically given in tablet or capsule form. Pancreatic enzymes may also be given by injection. The dosage varies with the condition being treated. For nondigestive ailments, the supplements are taken in the hour before meals so that they can be quickly absorbed into the blood. For digestive ailments, the supplements are taken immediately before meals accompanied by a large glass of fluids. Pancreatic enzymes may be accompanied by doses of vitamin A.


No special preparations are necessary before beginning enzyme therapy. However, it is always advisable to talk to a doctor or pharmacist before purchasing enzymes and beginning therapy.


People with allergies to beef, pork, pineapples, and papaya may suffer allergic reactions to enzyme supplements. Tablets are often coated to prevent them from breaking down in the stomach, and usually shouldn't be chewed or crushed. People who have difficulty swallowing pills can request enzyme supplements in capsule form. The capsules can then be opened and the contents sprinkled onto soft foods like applesauce.

Side effects

Side effects associated with enzyme therapy include heartburn, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, bloating, gas, and acne. According to the principles of therapy, these are temporary cleansing symptoms. Drinking eight to 10 glasses of water daily and getting regular exercise can reduce the discomfort of these side effects. Individuals may also experience an increase in bowel movements, perhaps one or two per day. This is also considered a positive effect.
Plant enzymes are safe for pregnant women, although they should always check with a doctor before using enzymes. Pregnant women should avoid animal enzymes. In rare cases, extremely high doses of enzymes can result in a build up of uric acid in the blood or urine and can cause a break down of proteins.

Research and general acceptance

In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has classified enzymes as a food. Therefore, they can be purchased without a prescription. However, insurance coverage is usually dependent upon the therapy resulting from a doctor's orders.



Enzyme Therapy for Your Health. 〈http://members.tripod.com/∼colloid/enzyme.htm〉.
Questions and Answers about Food Enzymes and Nutrition. http://www.enzymes.com.
Therapies: Enzyme Therapy. http://library.thinkquest.org/24206/enzyme-therapy.html.

Key terms

Celiac disease — A chronic disease characterized by defective digestion and use of fats.
Cystic fibrosis — A genetic disease that causes multiple digestive, excretion, and respiratory complications. Among the effects, the pancreas fails to provide secretions needed for the digestion of food.
Duodenum — The first part of the small intestine.
Gaucher's disease — A rare genetic disease caused by a deficiency of enzymes needed for the processing of fatty acids.
Metabolism — The system of chemical processes necessary for living cells to remain healthy.
Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

enzyme therapy

Alternative medicine
The administration of enzymes of plant or pancreatic origin to improve digestion and absorption of essential nutrients. Enzymes are co-administered with food to predigest it and preserve internal enzymes for the purpose of “maintaining metabolic harmony”, and are allegedly effective in breaking down circulating immune complexes as they pass through the kidneys. ET is alleged by its advocates to be effective in treating a wide range of conditions, including cancer, chronic degenerative diseases, infection of the lungs and teeth, inflammation, multiple sclerosis, scarring and others. There is no peer-reviewed data to support the alleged efficacy of ET.
Mainstream medicine
Any therapy in which an enzyme present in adequate amounts under normal conditions is supplemented with a related or identical enzyme to perform a specific task (e.g., rapid lysis of blood clots in an evolving myocardial infarctioin by streptokinase, tissue plasminogen activator or urokinase).
Segen's Medical Dictionary. © 2012 Farlex, Inc. All rights reserved.

enzyme therapy

Therapeutics Any therapy, in which an enzyme present in adequate amounts under normal conditions, is supplemented with a related or identical enzyme to perform a specific task–eg, rapid lysis of blood clots in an evolving MI by streptokinase, tissue plasminogen activator or urokinase
McGraw-Hill Concise Dictionary of Modern Medicine. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
References in periodicals archive ?
Systemic oral enzyme therapy has a general or tonic effect that improves conditions throughout the body, so instead of treating a single problem or illness, it addresses several.
Colonic strictures, for example, have been reported with high-dose enzyme therapy. Refer the patient to a gastroenterology specialist if adverse effects or symptoms of nutritional malabsorption persist, Dr.
Nutritional management and pancreatic enzyme therapy in cystic fibrosis patients: state of the art in 1987 and projections into the future.
Clinical studies reported in 2008 demonstrated that "systemic enzyme therapy significantly decreased tumor-induced and therapy-induced side effects and complaints such as nausea, gastrointestinal complaints, fatigue, weight loss, and restlessness and obviously stabilized the quality of life." (6)
Chino, CA, October 03, 2012 --(PR.com)-- AST Enzymes is proud to announce that they will be representing systemic enzyme therapy approaches at this year's annual New Earth Expo in Irvine, Ca.
Systemic enzyme therapy, also called metabolic or proteolytic enzyme therapy, allows enzymes to enter the body where they can be used for healing rather than digestion.
More specifically, research will emphasize the health benefits of small fruits, the anti-inflammatory mechanisms of specific fish oil fractions in the prevention of cardiovascular disease, probiotics and systemic enzyme therapy in the management of inflammation and health promotion.
This provides a real opportunity to deliver enzyme therapy without surgically entering the brain to treat lysosomal storage diseases," Nature quoted lead investigator Beverly Davidson as saying.
Even though well-documented reports of the positive health benefits of natural therapies--including orthomolecular vitamins, mineral supplementation, herbs, enzyme therapy, and manipulation--appear in scientific journals nearly daily, they are not followed up on like drugs produced by pharmaceutical companies.
Enzyme therapy is the Western approach to improving digestion.
In one study, in which the dose of bromelain was 945 mg/day, more adverse events and dropouts were seen among patients in the enzyme therapy group than in the standard-dose diclofenac group (Wien.
With the stress conditions understood, proper corrective measures can be applied by addressing the causes with natural therapies (nutrition, herbology, enzyme therapy, homeopathy, acupuncture, chiropractic, massage, counseling, etc.), leading to a greater degree of health.

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