What do the enzymes do if they aren’t digesting your food?
you take enzymes, specifically protease or proteolytic enzymes, on an
empty stomach, instead of the protease helping to digest the protein
from your meal, the enzymes will enter your bloodstream to support the
circulatory system, the immune system and work to support overall
detoxification. The better the blood flow and the healthier your
circulatory system, the better the detoxification. This type of enzyme
use is called “systemic enzyme supplementation.” The use of systemic
enzymes is great for healthy individuals, but can provide additional
support for those with compromised immune systems.
Some conditions that
may be exacerbated by undigested proteins and food particles in your
body are leaky gut, arthritis, fibromyalgia, CFS, allergies, to name
just a few.
What Are Systemic Enzymes and What Do They Do?
By: Dr. William Wong ND, PhD
The word “systemic”
means body wide. Systemic enzymes are those that operate not just for
digestion but throughout your body in every system and organ. But let’s
take first things first, what is an enzyme?
An enzyme is a
biocatalyst - something that makes something else work or work faster.
Chemical reactions are generally slow things, enzymes speed them up.
Without enzymes the chemical reactions that make up our life would be
too slow for life as we know it. (As slow as sap running down a tree in
winter). For life to manifest as we know it, enzymes are essential to
speed up the reactions. We have roughly some 3000 enzymes in our bodies
and that results in over 7000 enzymic reactions. Most of these enzymes
are derived or created from what we think of as the protein digesting
enzymes. But while digestion is an important part of what enzymes do,
it's almost the absolute last function. First and foremost these body
wide proteolytic (protein eating) enzymes have the following actions:
They are the first line
of defense against inflammation. (1,2,3). Inflammation is a reaction by
the immune system to an irritation. Let’s say you have an injured right
knee. The immune system sensing the irritation the knee is undergoing
creates a protein chain called a Circulating Immune Complex (CIC for
short), tagged specifically for that right knee. (The Nobel Prize in
biology was won in 1999 by a scientist who discovered this tagging
mechanism). This CIC floats down to the right knee and causes pain,
redness and swelling are the classic earmarks for inflammation. This at
first is a beneficial reaction; it warns us that a part of ourselves is
hurt and needs attention. But, inflammation is self-perpetuating, itself
creating an irritation that the body makes CIC’s to in response!
Celebrex, Vioxx and the rest of the Non Steroidal Anti Inflammatory
Drugs all work by keeping the body from making all CIC's. This ignores
the fact that some CIC’s are vital to life, like those that maintain the
lining of the intestine and those that keep the kidneys functioning!
Not to mention the fact that the NSAID’s, along with acetaminophen, are
highly toxic to the liver. Every year 20,000 Americans die from these
over the counter drugs and another 100,000 will wind up in the hospital
with liver damage, kidney damage or bleeding intestines from the side
effects of these drugs. (4,5).
Systemic enzymes on the
other hand are perfectly safe and free of dangerous side effects. They
have no LD-50, or toxic dose. (6). Best of all systemic enzymes can tell
the difference between the good CIC’s and the bad ones because
hydrolytic enzymes are lock and key mechanisms and their "teeth" will
only fit over the bad CIC’s. So instead of preventing the creation of
all CIC’s, systemic enzymes just “eat” the bad ones and in so doing
lower inflammation everywhere. With that, pain is lowered also.
Enzymes eat scar tissue
and fibrosis. (7). Fibrosis is scar tissue and most doctors learn in
anatomy that it is fibrosis that eventually kills us all. Let me
explain. As we age, which starts at 27, we have a diminishing of the
bodies’ output of enzymes. This is because we make a finite amount of
enzymes in a lifetime and we use up a good deal of them by the time we
are 27. At that point the body knows that if it keeps up that rate of
consumption we’ll run out of enzymes and be dead by the time we reach
our 40’s. (Cystic Fibrosis patients who have virtually no enzyme
production to speak of, even as children usually don’t make it past
their 20’s before they die of the restriction and shrinkage in the lungs
from the formation of fibrosis or scar tissue).
So our body in it's
wisdom begins to dole out our enzymes with an eyedropper instead of with
a tablespoon; as a result the repair mechanism of the body goes out of
balance and has nothing to reduce the over abundance of fibrin it
deposits in nearly every thing from simple cuts, to the inside of our
internal organs and blood vessels. This is when most women begin to
develop things like fibrocystic breast disease, uterine fibroids,
endometriosis, and we all grow arterial sclerotic (meaning scar tissue)
plaque, and have fibrin beginning to spider web its way inside of our
internal organs reducing their size and function over time. This is why
as we age our wounds heal with thicker, less pliable, weaker and very
If we replace the lost
enzymes we can control and reduce the amount of scar tissue and fibrosis
our bodies have. As physicians in the US are now discovering, even old
scar tissue can be “eaten away” from surgical wounds, pulmonary
fibrosis, kidney fibrosis and even keloids years after their formation.
Medical doctors in Europe and Asia have known this and have used orally
administered enzymes for these situations for over 40 years!
The blood is not only
the river of life, it is also the river through which the cells and
organs dispose of their garbage and dead material. Enzymes improve
circulation by eating the excess fibrin that causes blood to sometimes
get as thick as catsup or yogurt, creating the perfect environment for
the formation of clots. All of this material is supposed to be cleared
by the liver on its "first pass", or the first time it goes through but
given the sluggish and near toxic or toxic states of everyone's liver
these days that seldom happens. So the sludge remains in the blood
waiting for the liver to have enough free working space and enough
enzymes to clean the trash out of the blood. This can take days, and in
some cases, weeks! (8).
When systemic enzymes are taken, they stand ready in the blood and take the strain off of the liver by:
Cleaning excess fibrin from the
blood and reducing the stickiness of blood cells. These two actions
minimize the leading causes of stroke and heart attack causing blood
Breaking dead material down small enough that it can immediately pass into the bowel. (8).
Cleanse the FC receptors on the white blood cells improving their function and availability to fight off infection. (9).
And here we come to the only warning we
have to give concerning the use of systemic enzymes - don't use the
product if you are a hemophiliac or are on prescription blood thinners
like Coumadin, Heparin and Plavix, without direct medical supervision.
The enzymes cause the drugs to work better so there is the possibility
of thinning the blood too much.
Immune System Modulating.
Enzymes are adaptogenic
seeking to restore a steady state to the body. (9). When the immune
system is running low we become susceptible to infectious disease, when
it’s cranked up too high then the system creates antibodies that attack
it's own tissues as are seen in the auto immune diseases of MS,
Rheumatoid Arthritis, and Lupus. Here the enzymes will tone down immune
function and eat away at the antibodies the immune system is making to
attack its bodies own tissue.
Viruses harm us by
replicating in our bodies. To do this a virus must bond itself to the
DNA in our cells through the medium of its exterior protein cell wall.
Anything that disrupts that cell wall inhibits the ability of viral
replication by rendering individual viruses inert. (10,11). Systemic
enzymes can tell the difference between the proteins that are supposed
to be in your body and those that are foreign or not supposed to be
there, (again the enzyme lock and key mechanism).
One note: many in the
States have learned in school that enzymes are too big a protein to be
absorbed through the gut. The pioneering research done in the US by Dr.
Max Wolf (MD & PhD x7) at Columbia University in the 40’s through
the 70’s has not made it to the awareness of most doctors. There are
currently over 200 peer reviewed research articles dealing with the
absorption, utilization and therapeutic action of orally administered
systemic enzymes. A search through Pub Med using the key words:
serrapeptase, papain, bromelain, trypsin, chymo trypsin, nattokinase and
systemic enzyme will yield some of the extensive work. Systemic enzymes
now have a 4 decade plus history of widespread medical use in central
Europe and Japan.
1) Carroll A., R.:
Clinical examination of an enzymatic anti-inflammatory agent in
emergency surgery. Arztl. Praxis 24 (1972), 2307.
2) Mazzone A, et al.: Evaluation of Serratia peptidase in acute or chronic
inflammation of otorhinolaryngology pathology: a multicentre, double blind,
randomized trial versus placebo. J Int Med Res. 1990; 18(5):379-88.
3) Kee W., H. Tan S, L., Lee V. Salmon
Y. M.: The treatment of breast engorgement with Serrapeptase: a
randomized double blind controlled trial. Singapore Med J.
4) Celebrex article Wall Street Journal 19 April 1999.
5) No author listed: Regular Use of Pain
Relievers Can Have Dangerous Results. Kaleidoscope Interactive News,
American Medical Association media briefing. July 24, 1997.
6) Enzymes ñ A Drug of the Future, Prof.
Heinrich Wrba MD and Otto Pecher MD. Published 1993 Eco Med.
7) Kakinumu A. et al.: Regression of
fibrinolysis in scalded rats by administration of serrapeptase. Biochem.
8) Ernst E., Matrai A.: Oral Therapy
with proteolytic enzymes for modifying blood rheology. Klin Wschr. 65
9) Kunze R., Ransberger K., et at:
Humoral immunomodulatory capasity of proteases in immune complex
decomposition and formation. First International symposium on
combination therapies, Washington, DC, 1991.
10) Jager H.: Hydrolytic Enzymes in the
therapy of HIV disease. Zeitschr. Allgemeinmed., 19 (1990), 160.
11) Bartsch W.: The treatment of herpes
zoster using proteolytic enzymes. Der Informierte Arzt. 2 (1974),
How the human body reacts to chronic stress or injury
When the body is injured or under chronic stress the immune system
initiates a protein chain called ‘Circulating Immune Complex’ (CIC) that
causes pain, redness and swelling in a particular region. This is a
beneficial process and early on is a necessary part of healing.
However, inflammation is self-perpetuating and creates further insult
and irritation to the region. Unless there is modulation of the CIC
response the inflammation can dominate and overwhelm the region of the
body creating painful and degenerative conditions.
Non-steriodal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID’s) work by blocking CIC
activity in the body. This affects all CIC’s including those used to
maintain the lining of the stomach, intestine, liver and kidneys. This
is why long-term NSAID usage causes liver and kidney toxicity, stomach ulcers and leaky gut syndrome.
Every year, 20,000 Americans die from the over counter use of these
drugs and another 100,000 end up in the hospital with liver and kidney
damage and intestinal bleeding from NSAID usage.
Systemic enzymes work to modulate or coordinate the activity of CIC’s
and have no major adverse reactions. They work as a lock and key
mechanism and have an affinity for pro-inflammatory cytokines such as
‘Tumor Necrosis Factor’ (TNF) and ‘C Reactive Protein’ (CRP).
Can systemic enzymes actually help us prevent disease?
Systemic enzymes help to destroy foreign proteins which include
viruses, bacteria, yeasts and other parasites. They also help to
destroy abnormal cells such as cancer cells. In addition, they will
destroy excessive antibodies that the body is producing such as in cases
of autoimmune diseases.
Do systemic enzymes create ‘anti-fibrolytic’ activity?
Yes! Fibrosis is scar tissue that the body produces in the repair
process of cuts and wounds on the outer and inner surfaces of our body.
When we have optimal enzyme stores – the enzymes are used to clean up
fibrolytic tissue in the body. However, when our enzyme stores are
being depleted due to chronic stress and inflammatory activity the
fibrolytic tissue builds up.
When the body has an abundance of fibrolytic tissue build up we end
up with things like fibrocystic breast disease, uterine fibroids,
endometrosis and arteriol sclerosis. Systemic enzymes eat fibrolytic tissue
and prevent the fibrosis of our organs and tissues. They have a
remarkable ability to not only prevent all of the above conditions but
also to eat up old scar tissue. This includes surgical wounds,
pulmonary fibrosis, kidney fibrosis and even old keloid plaques.
How do systemic enzymes help to clean up the blood?
Chronically inflamed individuals often times end up with very thick
blood that is loaded with fibrin that can lead to heart attacks and
strokes. Doctors often prescribe aspirin and in more extreme cases
powerful pharmaceuticals like Coumadin, Heparin and Plavix. And, of
course, these drugs have very dangerous side effects.
Systemic enzymes are able to clear up excess thickening agents such
as fibrin from the bloodstream and naturally thin the blood. They also
break down dead material including dead blood cells, pathogens, toxic
debris and immune agents that have been left in circulation. This helps
cleanse and detoxify the bloodstream and enhances circulation and
If you’re concerned about your health condition and want to use
systemic enzymes (properly) – find a doctor with experience, in this
area, to guide you in the right direction.