Patients seeking safe and natural therapies for chronic illness without any painful side effects may be interested in enzyme therapy. Enzymes are natural proteins found within cells. They create and speed up chemical reactions in the body that support vitality. As such, enzyme therapy can help the body break down tumors, cleanse the circulatory system of toxins, and stimulate immune responses.
The therapy can be effective in treating a wide range of serious medical conditions, including serious cancers, cystic fibrosis, and chronic inflammation. Proteolytic enzymes, in particular, have been shown to support digestion, decrease inflammation, reduce pain associated with arthritis, and ease symptoms of inflammatory bowel syndrome.
But what is enzyme therapy, exactly, and how does it work? Read on for insight into this natural treatment.
How Enzyme Therapy Works
Enzyme therapy involves administering proteolytic enzymes in an attempt to boost the body’s natural immune responses. Doses are typically given orally via dietary supplements, which patients usually take with meals.
When used to treat cancer, enzymes are sometimes injected directly into tumor sites to kill cancerous cells and inhibit growth. With that said, the types and dosages of enzymes administered depend entirely on the patient’s health and personal needs.
Enzyme Therapy for Cancer
Many types of cancer suppress the patient’s immune system, making it more difficult for the body to fight the illness naturally. However, clinical trials have shown that certain enzymes can reduce the immunosuppressive effects of cancer so the body has a better shot at killing cancer cells and stopping their growth. This is where enzyme therapy for cancer comes into play.
An enzyme called PEG-KYnase has been shown to degrade the immunosuppressive metabolite kynurenine. While PEG-KYnase doesn’t directly kill cancerous cells, it helps the patient develop their natural immune response.
That said, some enzymes have been shown to attack and kill the cells directly. For instance, bromelain, papain, beta-glucosidases, carboxypeptidases, and alkaline phosphatase have all shown promise in fighting cancerous cells.
Bromelain is extracted from pineapple stems. A test-tube study showed that the proteolytic enzyme inhibits the growth of stomach and colon cancer by effectively killing cancerous cells. This suggests that bromelain and foods that contain this enzyme may help prevent these types of cancers.
A similar test-tube study demonstrated the effectiveness of papain. The research found that both bromelain and papain could stop the growth of bile duct cancer cells and induce cell death.
Systemic enzyme cancer therapy essentially floods the body with a high dose of enzymes. The systemic enzyme benefits are that they break down fibrin (a protein that helps with blood clotting) in the patient’s body and boosts the effectiveness of chemotherapy treatments. When chemotherapy drugs are better able to attack cancer cells, lower doses can be used.
Enzyme Therapy for Pancreatic Insufficiency
Pancreatic insufficiency is a condition caused by diseases like pancreatic cancer and cystic fibrosis. Pancreatic enzymes are critical to digestion, and when these functions are inhibited, a person can face a wide range of adverse effects stemming from their inability to digest food efficiently.
Cystic fibrosis is a progressive genetic disease that causes persistent lung infections and limits the ability to breathe over time. About 90% of patients need to take enzymes before eating since the illness blocks normal pancreatic functions and prevents the discharge of enzymes necessary for digestion.
Pancreatic cancer is among the ten leading causes of cancer-related deaths in the world. Patients suffering from the chronic disease often experience reduced pancreatic function. And when pancreatic tumors limit the effective discharge of enzymes, the results can be dire.
The most dangerous effect of pancreatic insufficiency is malnutrition, which can be fatal. But many patients experience severe pain and weight loss. Thankfully, enzyme therapies have proven effective in treating the condition.
Pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy (PERT) is a course of treatment designed to correct pancreatic insufficiency. Digestive enzyme capsules are taken orally in dosages that vary among patients and work for about an hour after being consumed.
Enzyme Therapy Dietary Effects
Medical studies suggest patients with pancreatic insufficiency should follow a normal when undergoing enzyme therapy. The general recommendation is to avoid meal plans restricting fat and intake, as well as those that call for high amounts of fiber, as it can interfere with the fibrin-reducing effects and absorption of proteolytic enzymes. As mentioned above, enzyme supplements should always be taken with food.
Recent studies have shown that fish oil (which contains high levels of omega-3 fatty acids) helps stabilize body weight in patients with pancreatic insufficiency and may improve their appetites. Research has also demonstrated the benefits among patients consuming whey protein.
The supplement has been shown to improve body composition, muscle strength, and body weight. Additionally, eating small, frequent meals can support digestion, whereas larger meals may inhibit pancreatic secretion.
Other Benefits of Proteolytic Enzymes
Enzyme therapy has clear and established benefits in the treatment of pancreatic insufficiency. There is also a growing body of evidence showing that it can safely and effectively improve the effects of traditional cancer treatments. And the advantages don’t stop there.
Any condition that negatively affects the production of enzymes can have digestive symptoms addressed through enzyme therapy. The treatment is often administered following gastric or pancreatic surgery and can also help treat the effects of stomach and colorectal cancers.
What’s more, proteolytic enzymes have proven effective at reducing inflammation and other discomforts of arthritis, promoting healing, and relieving the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.
Enzyme Therapy to Treat Inflammation
Several medical studies have shown enzyme therapy to be effective in treating inflammatory conditions. For example, the treatment can safely and effectively alleviate pain caused by arthritis pain. More specifically, bromelain is often used to reduce pain, swelling, and joint stiffness.
The proteolytic enzyme Bromelain can also help alleviate symptoms of sinusitis, an inflammatory condition of the nasal passages. In fact, a wide-scale study in Germany found that enzyme therapy for sinusitis relieves symptoms about 20% faster than standard treatments.
Enzyme Therapy to Promote Healing
Proteolytic enzymes have been shown to promote more efficient wound healing. Animal studies have found that topical applications of bromelain speed up wound healing and accelerate new tissue growth when applied directly to the skin.
A study of 24 patients recovering from dental surgery showed that taking a serrapeptase supplement reduces postoperative swelling, pain, and trismus (lockjaw). Similar trials have demonstrated that proteolytic enzymes can reduce swelling and bruising associated with cosmetic surgeries.
Enzyme Therapy to Treat Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Several studies have shown that proteolytic enzymes can reduce symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), such as bloating, gas, constipation, and abdominal pain. For example, a 126-person study found that papain led to a significant improvement in symptoms, and another found similar results from combining digestive enzymes with beta-glucan and inositol.
Is Enzyme Therapy Safe?
Enzyme therapy is considered a safe and effective way to treat numerous medical conditions and boost the body’s natural immune responses. The most important thing is selecting the right enzymes to address a condition and then taking them in appropriate doses.
The side effects of enzyme therapy mostly relate to digestion. For instance, very high doses of proteolytic enzymes can cause patients to experience diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting.
Allergic reactions are also possible, as some enzymes like bromelain are derived from fruits that are known allergens. For example, someone allergic to pineapples may develop a skin rash after ingesting bromelain.
Learn More about Enzyme Therapy
At Immunity Therapy Center, our goal is to be your partner on the road to recovery. If you’re interested in learning more about how enzyme therapy can assist in treating or even healing your condition, contact us to learn more.
At Immunity Therapy Center, our goal is to provide objective, updated, and research-based information on all health-related topics. This article is based on scientific research and/or other scientific articles. All information has been fact-checked and reviewed by Dr. Carlos Bautista, a Board Certified Medical Doctor at Immunity Therapy Center. All information published on the site must undergo an extensive review process to ensure accuracy. This article contains trusted sources with all references hyperlinked for the reader's visibility.