by: Dr. Tina Marcantel
An enzyme is a biocatalyst that either begins a reaction or causes a reaction to speed up. They cause the chemical reactions for many of our body functions. As we all know, our bodies change as we grow older, and one of those changes is decreased enzyme production. Therefore, we need to supplement these vital proteins as we grow older.
When referring to enzymatic supplements, it's important to distinguish between those used as digestive and systemic aids.
Digestive enzymes are taken orally with food in order to help break down food for improved digestion.
Systemic enzymes are taken orally in between meals. It is important not to take them with food so that they can be absorbed in substantial quantities into the blood. These can be helpful in a number of ways:
- *They help to rid the body of toxins by assisting the liver in detoxification reactions. The detoxification reactions in the liver are a beneficial cleansing for the entire body.
- *They help your body reduce inflammation, thus decreasing swelling and pain. Inflammation is the cause of pain in arthritis, fibromyalgia, sports injuries like muscle sprains, sciatica, and chronic back pain. Systemic enzymes are a healthy alternative to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and aspirin.
- *They help fight viruses by eating away at the virus's protein shell. I have seen it work well for the common cold and sinusitis caused by viruses. This is a much healthier alternative to antibiotics if the health problem is caused by a virus.
- *They help maintain a normal blood flow by helping to prevent blood clots and platelet aggregations within blood vessels.
- *They speed healing and increase our body's defense mechanisms by modulating our immune system. Enzymes increase binding to cytokines and have a very powerful influence on immune cells.
There have been many clinical research studies done that show the effectiveness of systemic enzymes in these areas. In my practice I have seen good results with their use in helping to control chronic pain and as a treatment for rhinitis and sinusitis.
An important thing to note is that professional protocol systemic enzymes are only available through health care professionals. As always, before beginning the use of these supplements you should be evaluated as a candidate for this treatment and it is extremely important to be aware of any potential interactions among the various medications being taken. Always keep the your primary care physician apprised of all the supplements being introduced into your treatment program.
Dr. Tina Marcantel is a naturopathic physician in Mesa, Arizona. Before entering medical school at Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in Tempe, Arizona, she was a registered nurse. Dr. Marcantel has over twenty-five years of experience in the health care field, and her experience includes diabetes management, women's health, nutritional counseling, and mental health. She practices holistic, integrative patient care. For more information, please visit her site at DrMarcantel.com