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Posts tagged ‘Digestive enzyme’

What are Enzymes?, Part 2

Enzymes are involved in many important body processes, including digestion, energy production and more. This newsletter is part 2 in a two-part series detailing the different ways these substances support health, and how taking them in supplement form might help you.

Enzymes and Immunity There is a growing body of scientific evidence showing that metabolic enzymes can provide nutritional support for many areas of health, including immunity. Metabolic enzyme supplements are increasingly used; however it must be noted that limitations exist on the information that can be discussed regarding the potential benefits of dietary supplements.

There are a host of immune disturbances where the body’s own defense mechanisms may attack body tissues (autoimmunity). In these circumstances, immune reactions occur in a manner that can lead to an abnormal inflammatory response, potentially affecting body tissues. It is believed that some enzymes can influence the chemical consequences of immune reactions, but this is not an easy area of nutritional self-management. It is always best to discuss the use of enzyme supplementation with knowledgeable healthcare givers.

Enzymes Combinations A review of literature on the health benefits of enzymes has led me to develop combination enzyme supplements. These dietary supplements contain a combination of enzyme preparations including bromelain, chymotrypsin, pancreatin, papain, trypsin, amylase, lipase and elastase, together with bioflavanoids, including rutin from biologically active sources.

I believe that enzyme combinations have many advantages over single enzymes because of a broader range of action, under different conditions, on many different tissues. This is the concept of synergy when applied to combined digestive and metabolic enzyme supplements. This approach may make systemic or metabolic enzymes more effective in their ability to impact body structures and functions in a favorable manner. Systemic enzyme supplements have been used with apparent safety for many years, both in the practice of medicine and in freely available dietary supplements.

Safety Issues with Metabolic Enzymes There are no significant side effects to be expected with oral enzyme supplements, used at recommended dosages, in individuals who are not known to be allergic to the components of the enzyme supplements. There is good scientific agreement that enzyme preparations obtained from suitable sources are quite safe. Enzyme supplements are not to be used during pregnancy, and their use in children must be supervised by a knowledgeable medical practitioner.

Any signs of allergic reaction should result in immediate discontinuation of enzyme supplements, and any individual with a bleeding tendency from any cause, including drugs or diseases, should avoid metabolic enzyme supplements unless prescribed by a physician for a specific, valid reason. Enzymes should not be administered by enema, in topical applications or by injection without prescription and supervision by a medical practitioner.

Keynote Summary: Enzymes There are several combination enzyme products that claim health benefits, and some of these products are accompanied by illegal treatment claims. Enzyme deficiencies have been variably associated with many disorders including: hardening of the arteries, increased blood clotting tendencies, high blood pressure, low blood sugar, obesity, fatigue, leaky guts, constipation, bad breath, allergies and skin problems, to name a few. Of course, this does not necessarily mean that enzyme supplementation can prevent or treat any of these diseases, in any consistent manner.

Manufacturers of bulk enzymes from various natural sources recommend enzymes as nutritional support for many conditions including indigestion, sugar intolerance in the diet, fatigue and general nutritional support, but evidence of the benefit of enzymes in several of these instances may not be complete in scientific literature.

Conclusion The science of metabolic enzyme supplementation is emerging, and their potential benefits cannot be ignored. While most commonly used to support healthy inflammatory response, metabolic enzyme supplements may also provide nutritional support for cardiovascular health, and more. When considering supplementation, be sure to discuss the possibilities with your healthcare provider.

Be Healthy! Dr. Stephen Holt, M.D.

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What are Enzymes?

Enzymesare naturally occurring chemicals that accelerate or facilitate chemical

Major digestive enzymes

Image via Wikipedia

reactions in the body. Enzymes, sometimes called catalysts, are a fundamental component of the chemistry of life.

There are two broad groups of enzymes that need to be defined. The first group is known collectively as digestive enzymes, substances that are secreted by the gastrointestinal tract and responsible for the digestion of food. The second group is referred to as systemic, or metabolic, enzymes. The words systemic and metabolic imply that these enzymes support body chemistry and that they drive body functions and support body structures.

Functions of Enzymes Enzymes act in a manner that causes many different changes in body structures and functions. Examples of the vital role of enzymes include growth and repair of tissues, chemical alteration of drugs or chemicals in the body, regulation of hormone secretion and the balanced transmission of nervous impulses in the brain.

Enzymes must be present to break down nutrients into simple forms that support the structure of the body. The function of enzymes themselves is often dependent upon the presence of vitamins and minerals or other nutritional co-factors.

Enzyme Harmony There are several thousand metabolic enzymes in your body that work in harmony to run chemical reactions in all body tissues. One group of metabolic enzymes exerts an antioxidant action, helping to remove free radicals or potentially damaging substances such as hydrogen peroxide. Free radicals are a common by-product of oxidative reactions, which can damage tissues in many ways.

These enzyme antioxidants are manufactured by the body and examples include superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase and peroxidase. These three enzymes are very important in the body’s ability to detoxify and defend itself against oxidative damage. A simple example of oxidative damage to the body is muscle pain that occurs after heavy exercise. Muscular activity generates free radicals, and that is why antioxidants are used increasingly by aerobic fitness enthusiasts and “weekend warriors” in the gym.

Metabolic Enzymes Metabolic or systemic enzyme support has been reported in medical literature as useful for many areas of health, including supporting cellular health, healthy inflammatory response in the body and more. Conventional medicine, however, has tended to reject the value of metabolic supplementation.

A major problem in acceptance of supplemental enzymes by modern science is the question of whether or not metabolic enzymes are adequately absorbed by the gastrointestinal tract. Some well-conducted studies show that many types of enzymes are absorbed, including combination enzyme preparations containing bromelain, chymotrypsin, pancreatin, papain and trypsin, even though their absorption is incomplete. Dietary supplements have been produced containing very important enzymes that are found in the human body, such as SOD, catalase and peroxidase, but these enzymes may not be efficiently absorbed, or they are unstable in their regular chemical forms.

Enzyme support is not simple because many factors alter the activity of enzymes, especially when taken as dietary supplements. These factors include the amount of material present that an enzyme can act on, acidity or alkalinity of the body, body temperature and the presence of other nutritional factors (co-factors) that are required to make enzymes function effectively, such as essential vitamins and minerals.

It seems obvious that many enzymes are destroyed by stomach acid when taken as dietary supplements (e.g. lipase). This can be overcome to some extent by increasing the amount of enzymes administered in oral supplements; and in some cases by applying special coatings (enteric coating) to enzyme capsules.

There is a wealth of literature on the use of metabolic enzymes, but enzymes from different sources, manufactured using different methods, have variable biological activity. Quality enzyme supplements are tested to ensure activity levels of the enzymes used.

Potential Use of Nutritional Support with Metabolic Enzymes The most common and effective use of several metabolic enzymes is to support healthy inflammatory response in the body. Reports of the successful use of metabolic enzymes in the nutritional support of cardiovascular health are also of major interest. It has been suggested that several metabolic enzymes may contribute to healthy blood consistency. However, any attempts to address blood health must be performed with the informed judgment and supervision of a medical practitioner.

Be Healthy! Dr. Stephen Holt, M.D.

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