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Proteolytic Enzymes: Nature’s Internal Cleaning Crew

Posted Aug 13 2011 1:07pm

You’ve probably heard of digestive enzymes and you may even take them with meals to help you digest the foods you eat. But, did you know that if you consume one type of digestive enzyme between meals, they can help break up scar tissue, reduce inflammation and boost your immune system?

Enzymes are catalysts and they initiate thousands of vital processes in your body. In fact, enzymes are responsible for every metabolic function in your body – from respiration, to muscle contraction.  Most of the metabolic enzymes in your body are proteolytic enzymes, which regulate protein functions in the body and which help digest the proteins we eat. Supplementing with these proteolytic enzymes between meals can help your body break down old proteins in your body and in doing so can help heal new and old wounds and reduce inflammation in general.

Proteolytic enzymes can also help boost your immune system as they help your immune system defenders literally “chew up” foreign invaders. Bacteria, viruses, molds and fungi are also protein-based so proteolytic enzymes can also help “digest” these invaders.

The major proteolytic enzymes include: trypsin, chymotrypsin, pancreatin, papain, and bromelain. Your body makes pancreatin, trypsin and chymotrysin, while papain and bromelain are naturally found in green papayas and pineapple respectively. Most digestive enzyme formulas will contain these proteolytic enzymes (though typically at a lower dosage) as well as the enyzmes amylase, which breaks down carbohydrates, and lipase, which breaks down fats.

Research supports the benefits of proteolytic enzymes . Personally, I have found them to be very effective in healing from oral surgery and in reducing the pain, and inflammation of bursitis. The challenge I find in supplementing with proteolytic enzymes is in taking them at the appropriate time. Ideally you want to take them no less than two hours after a meal and no less than 45 minutes before a meal. They tend to make me feel hungry so I find they work best for me if I take them at night. For some unknown reason they also make me a bit sleepy, so that’s another reason I typically take them at night.

Just a note of caution, however. While proteolytic enzymes can help your body heal post-surgery, always speak to your physician about any supplements you are taking before any surgical procedures.

Be Well,



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