How to fix what ails you with enzymes

There are various reasons to take an enzyme supplement…

Digestive enzymes improve nutrient absorption, while proteolytic enzymes treat various chronic diseases.

But few people know what they are, or how to use them outside of improving indigestion.

So, let’s look at some important things about enzymes and how you can make them work for you…

All about enzymes

Enzymes are specialized proteins that cause vital chemical reactions in your body to occur. For example, your pancreatic enzymes are pushed into the food in your small intestine; there they break down food so it can be absorbed across the small intestinal wall into your blood stream.

Another example is how fermentation enzymes turn grape juice sugars to alcohol; or the enzymes that synthesize (put together) molecules such as DNA polymerase which constructs DNA (your master blueprint code of every cell of your body).

There are more than 4,000 biochemical reactions we know occur in the human body because of enzymes — each with a unique molecular configuration and electric charge for the specific chemical reactions they cause.  And the amount of continuous enzyme activity in your body is incredible, generating its own weight in ATP (energy-carrying molecule found in the cells of all living things) each day.

Digestive enzyme supplementation

Health begins in the digestive tract. You’ve heard it said that “you are what you eat.”  Actually, you are what you eat, digest, absorb and utilize.

Unfortunately, the standard American diet (SAD) has so little micronutrients (i.e. live enzymes, fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, omega 3 oils) and so much processed and refined food that it leads to a down-regulation of pancreatic enzyme and stomach acid production.  With this down-regulation comes less effective digestion, absorption and utilization of food nutrients, along with faster aging, and more susceptibility to infections, stress, and fatigue.

Fortunately, you can supplement digestive enzymes, and patients often ask me which ones they should be taking. They typically are supplied as a blend, but have individual benefits: The digestive enzyme that breaks down proteins is called protease. Lipase breaks down fat; amylase and ptyalin breaks down carbohydrates; lactase breaks down milk; and sucrase or maltase break down simple sugar.

Digestive enzyme supplementation is also valuable for anyone who is shifting to a higher raw food intake. Since raw food needs more enzymes to digest it, supplementing with digestive enzymes for several months makes sense. Your digestive tract will ‘heal’ and your mouth, stomach and pancreas will produce enough digestive enzymes in time. Give it four to six months.

Digestive enzymes for stomach acid disorder

If you suffer with the stomach acid disorder we call “dyspepsia,” then digestive enzymes become especially important.  Here’s why: Stomach acid is produced in order to digest food. In the presence of digestive enzyme supplementation, your stomach will sense less of a need for acid to be produced. Thus it can “down-regulate” the over-acid environment there, allowing for the stomach lining to heal.

To make this most effective, you will also need to identify the foods that trigger excessive stomach acid production. This means you may need to give up highly sugary, spicy or greasy foods to achieve this, and reduce your stress levels.

Systemic enzyme therapy

Systemic enzyme therapy is quite different from digestive enzymes. Systemic enzymes are proteases that disassemble problem proteins that are causing inflammation. There are several medical uses for these.

Systemic enzymes have also been quite extensively studied in Germany by the company that manufactures Wobenzym® N, and Wobenzym® PS.  There are many companies now manufacturing them from animals (trypsin, chymotrypsin), plants (bromelain, papain), bacteria (serrapeptidase), or fungi (Serrazimes®).  The peer-reviewed scientific literature is replete with more studies at

How do they work? Systemic enzymes have been shown to digest the protective protein coating of pathogens (such as bacteria, viruses, parasites, fungi and candida). This effectively weakens and kills them. They are thought to safely and effectively clean the bloodstream.

Here are the conditions that have been studied and found to benefit from systemic enzymes:

  • Arthritis
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Asthma
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Infertility
  • Lymphedema
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Psoriasis and eczema
  • Strains and Sprains
  • Thrombophlebitis
  • Thyroid disease
  • Urinary infections/stones
  1. Törnroth-Horsefield S, Neutze R (2008). “Opening and closing the metabolite gate.” — Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 105 (50): 19565–6.
  2. Biziulevicius GA. “Where do the immunostimulatory effects of oral proteolytic enzymes (‘systemic enzyme therapy’) come from? Microbial proteolysis as a possible starting point.” — Med Hypotheses. 2006;67(6):1386-8.
  3. Jager H.: “Hydrolytic Enzymes in the therapy of HIV disease.” — Zeitschr. Allgemeinmed., 19 (1990), 160.
  4. Bartsch W.: “The treatment of herpes zoster using proteolytic enzymes.” — Der Informierte Arzt. 2 (1974), 424-429.
  5. IgA Nephropathy — Medscape
Dr. Michael Cutler

By Dr. Michael Cutler

Dr. Michael Cutler is a graduate of Tulane University School of Medicine and is a board-certified family physician with more than 20 years of experience. He serves as a medical liaison to alternative and traditional practicing physicians. His practice focuses on an integrative solution to health problems. Dr. Cutler is a sought-after speaker and lecturer on experiencing optimum health through natural medicines and founder of the original Easy Health Options™ newsletter — an advisory on natural healing therapies and nutrients. His current practice is San Diego Integrative Medicine, near San Diego, California.