An important first step in restoring health and well-being by helping to remedy digestive problems. Food (plant) enzymes and pancreatic (animal) enzymes are used in complementary ways to improve digestion and absorption of essential nutrients. Treatment includes enzyme supplements, coupled with healthy diet that features whole foods. Plant-derived enzymes and pancreatic enzymes can be used independently or in combination.
For every chemical reaction that occurs in the body, enzymes provide the stimulus.
Plant enzymes: Enhance the body's vitality by strengthening digestive system.
Pancreatic enzymes: Beneficial to both the digestive system and the immune system.
The human body makes approximately 22 digestive enzymes, capable of digesting protein, carbohydrates, sugars, and fats. The function of the enzyme, a specialized protein molecule, is to catalyze chemical reactions within the cells so that all physiological processes can occur. The process of digestion begins in the mouth, makes its way to the stomach, and concludes in the small intestine. At each step in this process, specific enzymes break down different types of food. This process is balanced through acidity; each site along the digestive tract has a different degree of acidity that allows certain enzymes to function while inhibiting others. Every specific enzyme can bind to only one specific substrate (described by the lock-and-key model of enzyme function), or group of chemically related substances. Food enters the upper portion of the small intestine (after leaving the stomach) where the pancreas (digestive organ that feeds enzymes into the gut) provides pancreatic enzymes to further break down the food.
Enzyme activity is truly holistic; most enzymes act together as co-enzymes, or as co-factors with vitamins, minerals and trace minerals for optimum body efficiency. There are three basic categories of enzymes: metabolic enzymes, digestive enzymes, and enzymes in raw foods. Metabolic enzymes run body processes, repair damage and decay, and heal disease, while digestive enzymes assimilate carbohydrates, proteins and fats into the body. Enzymes in raw foods start food digestion and aid the body's digestive enzymes so they do not have to carry the entire load. There are over 1,000 kinds of acid, alkaline, or neutral enzymes that are quite specific in their functions.
There are four categories of plant enzymes that have uses in plant enzyme therapy:
(Note: the names of all enzymes end with the suffix -ase.)
Plants are a person's only source of cellulase because the human body is unable to produce it. Cellulase is found in the rigid cell walls of plants to digest cellulose when needed. The fact that Plant enzymes function in the stomach, predigesting the food, was proposed by Dr. Howell in the 1920s. This predigestion of food occurs during the interim period, before enough hydrochloric acid (HCL) accumulates in the stomach to begin the next stage of digestion. Some people may have a problem digesting uncooked foods because of a lack of cellulase.
Cooking food can destroy the important plant enzymes. They are more heat-sensitive than vitamins and are the first to be destroyed during cooking. They are destroyed by being heated above 118 degrees Fahrenheit and "are deactivated or destroyed by pasteurizing, canning, and microwaving," according to Dr. Lita Lee, Ph.D. of Eugene, Oregon. While raw foods recommended, a one hundred percent raw foods diet is not necessary. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has long approved the use of plant enzymes, but as dietary supplements only.
The consequences of eating a predominantly cooked-foods diet are various inflammations, pancreatic hypertrophy (enlargement), toxic colon, and allergies. Because of inflammation, conditions such as bronchitis, sinusitis, cystitis, rhinitis, and arthritis may occur, and may be accompanied by fever, redness, swelling, and pain. Pancreatic hypertrophy results when a diet lacking in enzymes puts an extra strain on the enzyme production of the pancreas. The organ attempts to make more secretion by enlarging.
Undigested food can remain in the intestine and not be excreted. Here, molecules are converted into toxins that by the blood to the liver for detoxification. If the liver is overworked, it will be unable to properly detoxify the blood, resulting in the colon becoming toxic. A meal of predominantly cooked foods can lead to digestive leukocytosis, a condition marked by an marked by an increased white blood count. A rise in white blood cells is a sign that the immune system is mobilized. This mobilization accompanies infections, poisoning, but can also occur after breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Such a response puts added stress on the immune system. The concept of the immune system being stimulated every time a person eats was first reported in 1897 by Rudolph Virchow, the father of cellular pathology.
Pancreatic enzymes function in the small intestine and in the blood. They do not digest food in the stomach, or contribute to the important step of predigestion. Protein molecules that are only partially digested in the small intestine are able to be absorbed into the bloodstream. The immune system now treats these as invaders and circulating immune complexes form (CIC's). In a healthy person CIC's are neutralized in the lymphatic system. But in a sick person, CIC's accumulate in the blood where they can initiate an "allergic' reaction. Kidneys cannot excrete enough and CIC's begin accumulating in soft tissues, causing inflammation. Fortunately, pancreatic enzyme therapy can correct this problem, mainly because pancreatic enzymes can break down CIC's.
In his practice, the late Dr. Howard F. Loomis, Jr.,D.C., tested patients for enzyme deficiency; then he replenishes this deficiency with enzyme supplements. When the body receives plentiful supplies of enzymes, according to Dr. Howell, "Its internal enzyme supplies are preserved for the important work of maintaining metabolic harmony." Dr. Loomis analyzes urine and often finds toxins such as phenols (organic molecules with a structure similar to alcohol) present. The presence of phenols can lead to allergies, acne, sciatica, and breast pathology, and is often indicative of a toxic colon.
Dosages of pancreatic enzymes can be given orally on an empty stomach or by injection, and may be combined with plant enzymes. By supplementing the body's own pancreatic enzymes, pancreatic enzyme therapy promotes health by lessening the demands on the body for supplying enzymes to convert food to unstable nutrients and energy. The enzymes are usually taken between meals so they will not be used for digesting food and will make their way to the bloodstream. Vitamin A is often given in combination with pancreatic enzymes because it often releases enzymes contained in lysosomes.Testing for food enzyme and nutritional deficiencies: "The major methods used in determining emzyme and nutrient dificiencies include the 24-hour urinalysis according to Loomis, evaluation of an extensive patient health history and a physical exam" (Dr. Lita Lee).
Many naturopaths and chiropractors now use enzyme-containing medicines to clean wounds, dissolve blood clots, and control allergic reactions. Cancer, Leukemia, anemia, and heart disease are often diagnosed by measuring the amount of various enzymes in the blood and/or other bodily fluids. The enzyme cathepsin is stored in our systems for our death to break down cells and tissue for the body's return to the earth's organic matrix. Antioxidant co-enzymes, such as glutathione peroxidase and superoxide dismutase (SOD),an antioxidant enzyme that works with catalase, scavenge and neutralize cell-damaging free radicals by turning them into stable oxygen and H2O2, and then into oxygen and water. Co-enzyme Q10 is very popular in the U.S.A. and is important in maintaining health, especially in adults over the age of 40.
Modern medicine's perspective
The future of enzyme therapy seems assured. There are now over 2,000 enzyme therapists in the U.S.A. and the field of enzyme therapy is rapidly expanding. A significant amount of research on pancreatic enzymes is conducted in Europe. The field, however, is still in its infancy in the U.S.A.