Enzymes can be used for healing body tissues, not just for digestion.
Enzymes given with food are used for digestion, but certain enzymes (proteases, which break down proteins) can also help with inflammation, pain, recovery from injury and more when given apart from food.
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. Examples of proteolytic enzymes include pancreatin, trypsin, and chymotrypsin (from the pancreas); bromelain (from pineapple); and papain (from papaya). Proteolytic enzymes work best for inflammation when given away from meals and combined with a bioflavonoid such as quercetin or rutin (rutosid).
What are the benefits of such a regime? Systemic enzyme therapy is theorized to work by breaking down proteins in the blood that cause inflammation, and by removing fibrin, which prolongs inflammation.
Proponents say that systemic enzyme therapy promotes health in every part of the body by reducing pain and inflammation, speeding healing, supporting a healthy immune system, shrinking tumors and preventing metastasis from cancer.
Enzyme therapy may also help to prevent soreness and injury during and after exercise when taken routinely.
Studies in the U.S. are limited, but systemic enzyme therapy has been studied and used in Germany for decades.
But there are cautions: Proteolytic enzymes can thin blood and increase the risk of bleeding, especially at higher doses. Do not give to dogs with clotting disorders, gastric ulcers or those receiving blood-thinning medications. If anemia or signs of bleeding develop, discontinue right away. High doses also may cause diarrhea.
See your health professional for more information on these products.