Health Benefits of Systemic Enzymes
There are many chemical reactions that occur in the body and most of these are facilitated by proteins called enzymes. These chemical reactions, which are catalyzed by the action of enzymes, help in the many functions of the body, including the production of energy, fighting against disease, promoting growth, repairing cellular damage, and more. However, many people think of enzymes mainly for their participation in the digestive processes. Furthermore, although enzymes are naturally produced in the body, aging and disease may reduce their production, which results in their decline in function. This article focuses on the ways systemic enzyme supplements benefit the body.
Aside from digestive enzymes, there are other proteolytic enzymes that help break down proteins and support the immune system. These systemic enzymes may help regulate inflammation and reduce pain, support healing and repair, and promote muscle building. In other words, they help maintain over-all health. For these reasons, some experts recommend taking enzyme supplements, especially in people who engage in intense physical activity. Athletes also take systemic enzymes to enhance protein absorption, which aids in building of lean muscle, supports muscle recovery, and promotes weight maintenance. A study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that an increase in amino acid levels (100%), branched‐chain amino acid levels (250%) and nitrogen retention (32%) occurred in participants who took enzyme supplements.
Some research shows that certain systemic enzymes (such as chymotrypsin, trypsin, and serratiopeptidase) may be taken as an alternative to popular pain relievers, such as to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which are associated with many side effects. One study, which was conducted in laboratory rats, showed that taking these enzymes in low doses in combination with low dose aspirin resulted in less likelihood to develop stomach ulcers compared to taking aspirin alone. Another study showed that protease enzymes may reduce muscle soreness, facilitate muscle healing, and promote restoration of muscle function after intense exercise.
Plant-derived systemic enzyme supplements such as bromelain (from pineapples) and nattokinase (from soy beans) have also been found to have heart-health benefits. They have protective action on the cardiovascular system by reducing the risk of blood clotting and lowering high blood pressure. A German study on bromelain showed that it decreased platelet count, which can reduce the risk of blood clotting, a factor associated with heart attacks and stroke. Nattokinase, on the other hand, has been found to decrease certain blood clotting factors and lipids, which are associated with an increased risk for cardiovascular disease. It also reduced blood pressure in another Korean study.
Systemic enzymes may act as antioxidants in the body. Antioxidants reduce the damaging effects of free radicals, which are the by-products of normal metabolism. For example, some research shows that compared to vitamin C, system enzymes significantly increases the ability of the liver to clear caffeine, indicating an increase in the liver’s antioxidative capacity. The liver’s function as a detoxification system has been shown to significantly improve over baseline measurements with enzyme supplementation. Antioxidants also help the body fight chronic disease, such as cancer. In animal studies involving mice with cancer, systemic enzyme supplements have been shown to reduce tumor growth and prolong their survival.
Other studies suggest that pancreatic enzymes, which are known to have digestive functions, may also help in the treatment of HIV patients. Studies suggest that hydrolytic enzymes can help improve immune system function and improve quality of life. In addition, enzymes have been shown to reduce the overgrowth of yeast in patients with low resistance.
Studies suggest that systemic enzymes help break down fibrin, a protein that causes fibrosis (scar formation). Fibrosis is a process that is involved in various diseases. Some scientists have proposed the use of enzymes to treat various medical disorders. These Include:
- Viral infections such as herpes zoster – enzymes can inactivate the virus before they enter the cells
- Bacterial infections – enzymes can enhance the killing effect of antibiotics
- Allergic rhinitis and asthma – enzyme supplements can help reduce mucus secretions
- Painful conditions such as sinus headaches, arthritis, synovitis, and bursitis – enzymes help reduce inflammation
- Pulmonary fibrosis (a chronic lung disease) – enzyme therapy can reduce fibrin and digest fibrotic tissue, which blocks air exchange
- Sarcoidosis – enzymes therapy can reduce scar tissue formation in the lungs, joints, eyes, bones and skin
- Systemic Lupus Erythematosus – enzymes can help regulate immune function by removing circulating immune complexes in the blood that cause tissue destruction
- Fibromyalgia – enzyme help reverse the effects of fibrin production and improve blood circulation in fibrotic areas
- Chronic kidney disease – enzymes help reduce fibrin deposition and scar formation in the kidneys
- Conditions characterized by excess estrogen production (fibrocystic breasts, polycystic ovaries, uterine fibroids, endometriosis, cancers of the breast, uterus, ovary, and prostate, benign prostatic hypertrophy) – enzymes help reduce fibrosis, which is enhanced by excess estrogen
Although research suggests that enzyme supplements are beneficial and lacking in adverse effects, more studies are needed to prove the therapeutic effects of systemic enzymes. Consult your doctor about taking these supplements.
This information should not take the place of medical advice. We encourage you to talk to your health care providers (doctor, registered dietitian, pharmacist, etc.) about your interest in, questions about, or use of dietary supplements and what may be best for your overall health.
Howenstine, J. How Systemic Enzymes Work To Cure Diseases. http://www.newswithviews.com/Howenstine/james174.htm
Wong, W. What Are Systemic Enzymes and What Do They Do? http://systemicenzymetherapy.com/TherapeuticApplications/SystemicEnzymes.htm
Enrich Gifts. Enzyme supplements offer digestive and systemic health benefits. http://www.enrichgifts.com/Enzymes-digestive-and-systemic-health-benefits-s/118.htm