What is it?
Enzyme therapy involves taking oral enzymes to improve your digestion, immune system, and other health problems. Enzymes change and increase the rate of a chemical reaction in the body. They are needed for digestion, to absorb (take in) nutrients, make new tissue, or move a muscle.
Western medicine doctors only use enzymes to treat health problems that are caused by not having enough of a certain kind of enzyme, such as cystic fibrosis, Gaucher's disease, or celiac disease. Many people use lactase, which is an enzyme that helps prevent gas and bloating from drinking milk.
Alternative care givers have been using enzymes safely and with good results for over 40 years. European and Japanese medical doctors use enzyme therapy so much that it is not considered an alternative therapy.
Most Americans eat little raw food and do not get enough plant enzymes. These enzymes are destroyed during cooking. Eating raw vegetables is helpful because the enzymes needed to digest food are often in the food you eat. Plant enzymes are active in the stomach and are used to predigest the food.
Animal-based enzymes are also known as pancreatic enzymes. These enzymes are not active in the stomach but work in the intestines and may help the immune system. Pancreatic enzymes help break down protein, sugar, fat, and fiber in our food.
Enzymes used to improve digestion should be taken with meals. Those used for inflammation, infection, injury, post surgery healing, and other non-digestive problems should be taken between meals.
Enzyme therapy is used to treat inflammation (warmth, redness, swelling, pain). Surgical or trauma injuries respond well to enzyme therapy. Acne, arthritis, allergies, bronchitis, cataracts, common cold, and shingles may be treated with enzymes. Autoimmune disease, cancer, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), multiple sclerosis (MS), and immune deficiencies may improve with enzyme therapy.
There is not a specific type of doctor or school that specializes in enzyme therapy. Acupuncturists, chiropractors, medical doctors, naturopaths, nutritionists, and osteopaths may use enzyme therapy to treat patients.
Enzyme therapy is generally considered safe. Side effects may include gas and diarrhea. Ulcer patients should be careful when taking any enzyme containing protease as the protease could worsen the problem.
1. Burton Goldberg Group: Alternative Medicine: The Definitive Guide. Future Medicine Publishing, Puyallup, WA; 1994.
2. Lopez DA, Williams RM & Miehlke K: Enzymes the Fountain of Life. Nevel Press, Inc, Charleston, SC; 1994.
3. Sifton DW: The PDR Family Guide to Natural Medicines and Healing Therapies. Three Rivers Press, NY, NY; 1999.
Last Updated: 1/4/2011