Have you ever had a sore throat, been stung by a bee, or twisted your ankle?
Do you have arthritis, back pain or headaches?
Whenever you are in pain, even post-surgical pain, your body makes compounds in response to the injury which cause temporary redness, heat, swelling, and pain. Then naturally produced enzymes in your body eat up these inflammatory compounds, and that is when you notice the swelling goes down, the pain is relieved and the redness or stiffness recedes.
One second ago, an enzyme in your body called superoxide dismutase (SOD) just chased out a cancer-causing toxin that your cell accidentally spawned. Genetically speaking, all 5 of my genes for SOD are double homozygous (so they are inactive) so I’m very cautious about what I do and what I eat since I don’t want to spawn too many free radicals. I have cramped pathways to clear the oxidative damage. This is highly unusual, most of you have a nicely working SOD pathway. (I take SOD supplements, sometimes this brand, sometimes this one).
Anyway, we make all sorts of enzymes, and what’s cool is that you can also buy certain enzymes as a dietary supplement, including SOD. Lactase is an enzyme that chews up milk sugars, helping some people to tolerate milk. Bromelain, derived from pineapples, helps with allergies and helps people post-surgically. It might even reduce scarring if taken soon enough. If you take acid blockers could benefit from papain, an enzyme derived from papaya fruit that works nicely with your stomach’s pH range.
Proteolytic enzymes another type of enzyme. They chew up proteins and help with digestion. I think they’re great for chronic pain syndromes. They help dissolve fibrin deposits which helps bruising. As a teenager (way back in the 1980’s) we played a game called Pac Man. Remember? (Please tell me you remember). This popular arcade game included a Pac-Man which traveled a maze and gobbled up ghosts. I was a monster at Pac-Man in my hey day! Proteolytic enzymes work in the same way, they just gobble up debris, as opposed to ghosts.
With less debris, there is improved circulation all over your body. Less debris also translates to more oxygen and healing nutrients delivered to the site of injury. As a pharmacist, I recommend you reach for proteolytic enzymes before you NSAIDs such as acetaminophen, naproxen or ibuprofen. Why? Because they are temporary and they have side effects. It’s the equivalent of applying a bandage, and while most of you fair out well, the unlucky few experience diarrhea, nausea, headaches, dizziness, bleeding ulcers or heaven forbid, kidney damage. Besides, if you mask your pain with medicine, but continue to operate as normal, you increase your risk of permanent damage.
A German scientific paper studied proteolytic enzymes in 100 athletes. The results were kind of shocking. More than 75 percent said the enzyme treatment produced favorable results. Even better no side effects were reported! So incredible were the results that the German government sent millions of enzyme capsules to the Olympics to help their athletes heal quicker.
Enzymes are a necessity to life, just like oxygen, food, clean water and shelter.
(Some may argue that chocolate should be included as well).
For chronic pain syndromes -as opposed to digestive issues- I recommend that you take your proteolytic enzyme supplement on an empty stomach. This increases the ‘Pac-Man’ effect by up to 40 percent. If you have digestive issues, you should consume your supplements with your meal, or just after. While these types of enzyme supplements are generally well-tolerated, I occasionally hear of allergies, rashes and digestive upset.
One more thing, a lot of you have asked me about the enzyme that I put in my Thyroid Script (a supplement I designed for thyroid health and metabolism). This is a vegetarian, proteolytic enzyme called dipeptidyl peptidase, abbreviated as DPPIV (or sometimes DPP4). This proteolytic enzyme is natural and produced in your own body in small amounts.
I put it in my thyroid formula because I’m smart, lol! Seriously, it is integrated into my thyroid formula because it assists with the breakdown of difficult-to-digest gluten protein fragments such as gluten (from bread and pasta) and casein (from cheese and milk). Gluten and casein are thought to damage the fragile thyroid gland and increase antibody production.
Research on supplemental DPPIV in humans is limited, however one clinical trial studied the effects of enzymes (including DPPIV) in 22 children and adolescents with Autistic Spectrum Disorder. In this open-label trial, 12 weeks of supplementation with the enzyme blend sparked significant improvements in many clinical parameters like attention, comprehension, eye contact, digestion, mood, hyperactivity, perseverance, sleep, social skills, and speech. Evidence suggests supplementation with DPPIV (and/or enzymes in general) can be very helpful to manage the digestive and neurobehavioral symptoms triggered by reactivity to gluten, casein, and other allergenic proteins. The proteins affect your brain and thyroid that’s why they are scientifically known as “neuroactive dietary proteins” and enzymes break them down, it’s pretty straightforward. Anyway, I wanted to clear that up here, because I have created the only formula in the world (for thyroid/metabolism) with this DPPIV in it, and I’ve received hundreds of questions asking what’s so special about it.
Now, I am sure you are going to ask me what proteolytic enzymes I take (or have tried), or recommend. There are many that are reputable, so I want you to really research these on your own and see what feels right, or what your practitioner recommends or sells.
And while we didn’t get to discuss PROBIOTICS here, they are often taken with digestive/proteolytic enzymes.
If you like this article please read my article Why You Need Probiotics Year Round. Click Here
Suzy Cohen, has been a licensed pharmacist for over 30 years and believes the best approach to chronic illness is a combination of natural medicine and conventional. She founded her own dietary supplement company specializing in custom-formulas, some of which have patents. With a special focus on functional medicine, thyroid health and drug nutrient depletion, Suzy is the author of several related books including Thyroid Healthy, Drug Muggers, Diabetes Without Drugs, and a nationally syndicated column.