Deep, Radi and Mithu Johari are holistic medicine research reporters based in Toronto and India. Their educational website - ApplesAndDoctors.com - showcases their interest in the benefits of combining "holistic, safe and gentle" supportive healthcare strategies, wherever possible, with conventional medicine (involving drugs and surgery).
This article is reproduced with kind permission* from http://ApplesAndDoctors.com. It was first published June 17, 2010.
Those Wonder Working Enzymes: Healing in Depth
Having read about the many health benefits of systemic enzymes, and experienced some of their powerful healing effects first hand, we felt we had to share this information with all our readers.... We are convinced, and hope you will find the information below both interesting and useful.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, the digestion of meat by stomach acids and the conversion of starch into sugars by saliva and plant extracts were known about, but the mechanisms responsible for these processes had not yet been identified.
In the 19th century, Louis Pasteur, studying the action of yeast in the fermentation of sugar into alcohol, concluded that it was catalyzed by a force contained in yeast cells called 'ferments.' In 1877, the German physiologist Wilhelm Kuhne used the term 'enzyme' from the Greek zymosis which means to leaven, to describe the process of fermentation.
• The term 'enzyme' was used later when referring to non-living substances such as pepsin [a digestive enzyme];
• And the term 'ferment' to chemical activity produced by living organisms [such as yeast or bacteria].
Role of Enzymes
Enzymes act as catalysts in living organisms, regulating the rate at which chemical reactions proceed, without being altered in the process. They reduce the activation energy needed to start these reactions. Without them the chemical reactions would be too slow to sustain life as we know it.
Our bodies contain about 3,000 enzymes resulting in 25,000 to 30,000 enzymatic reactions.
• Digestive enzymes act in the stomach to aid digestion of food, while
• Systemic enzymes (the word ‘systemic’ means ‘body-wide’) are metabolic enzymes that operate not just in digestion but throughout the body in all organs and systems.
Most systemic enzymes are proteases (or protolytic enzymes), regulating protein function and aiding the digestion of those proteins that are no longer needed or are even harmful in the body [e.g., cellular debris, plaque, scar tissue] .
We will be concentrating on systemic enzymes in this article because of their outstanding therapeutic value.
Inflammation is an immune system reaction to irritation or injury in the body. It creates a protein chain called a Circulating Immune Complex (CIC) tagged for a specific site. This CIC travels down to the targeted area, causing pain and swelling. At first, by drawing our attention to a hurt part of the body, this is a beneficial reaction. But because it is self-perpetuating, it becomes an irritant in itself, causing further CIC production.
Anti-inflammatory drugs inhibit the formation of all CICs despite the fact that some, such as those that keep the kidneys functioning or maintain intestinal lining, are vital for life. The non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are also highly toxic to the liver.
Opposed to these harmful drugs are systemic enzymes, which are safe and free from dangerous side effects. They have no toxic dose and, very importantly, can tell the difference between helpful and excessive CICs. Because hydrolic enzymes are
'lock and key' mechanisms, their 'teeth' will only fit over bad CICs and 'eat' them. Thus inflammation and pain are considerably lowered in the whole system.
Fibrosis is scar tissue, and enzymes particularly enjoy a scar tissue meal!
• Our bodies produce a finite amount of enzymes in our lifetime and we use up a very large amount of our stores by the time we are 27 years old.
• From then on, the body becomes extremely stingy in dealing out enzymes in order to prolong our lives, so our repair systems have no way of reducing the overabundance of fibrin deposited everywhere, from simple cuts to the insides of our organs and blood vessels.
• They [fibrin deposits] can reduce the size and function of organs over time and can result in various conditions such as women's ailments (uterine fibroids, endometriosis, and fibrocystic breast disease), arterial sclerotic plaque, etc.
All of these effects can be controlled and reduced by replacing the necessary enzymes.
Even old scar tissue from surgical wounds, fibrosis of the lungs, renal [kidney] fibrosis, and even keloids, can be 'eaten' away by enzymes many years after their formation. This is a fact known in Europe and Japan, where orally administered enzymes have been clinically used for more than 40 years.
Cells and organs dispose of their garbage (dead matter and waste products) through the blood. Excess fibrin can thicken the blood and cause clot formation.
All this waste is supposed to be cleaned up by the liver, but given the toxic condition of our overworked livers due to unhealthy lifestyles, this process can take days and sometimes even weeks.
Systemic enzymes can take the strain off the liver by ridding the blood of excess fibrin and reducing the stickiness of blood cells, which are two main factors in strokes and heart attacks due to blood clots.
Enzymes also help out by breaking down dead material to be passed immediately into the bowel.
They cleanse the Fc receptors in white blood cells [which bind antibody-coated bacteria], thus improving their function and availability in fighting infection.
Here we have to slip in a word of caution: Hemophiliacs and those on a prescription of blood thinner should not use systemic enzymes without direct medical supervision. This is because there is a possibility of thinning the blood too much.
With a depressed immune system, our bodies become vulnerable to infections and disease, but an overactive immune system creates antibodies that attack the body's own tissues. Examples are autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus.
Enzymes, being adaptogenic, seek to restore the body's equilibrium. They tone down the immune function and 'eat' inappropriate antibodies.
Viral, Bacterial, and Fungal Infections
A virus, in order to replicate in our bodies, has to bond itself to the DNA in our cells through the medium of the exterior protein cell wall. Enzymes recognize the proteins that are foreign in the blood, and inhibit viral replication through their 'lock and key' mechanism (mentioned earlier), thus rendering individual viruses inert.
In vitro studies have shown the promising effects of systemic enzymes on viral, bacterial, and fungal organisms.
Inflammation: Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Autism, etc.
It is known today that the many degenerative changes in the brain of an Alzheimer's patient are due to medically detected moderate inflammation of that organ. Similarly, a link has been found between subclinical brain inflammation and Parkinson's. In Europe, the name officially used for chronic fatigue syndrome is myalgic encephalomyelitis which is 'muscle pain caused by brain swelling.'
Autism too could be due to brain swelling. Its cause is still under debate but many doctors feel it is caused by the mercury in childhood innoculations. Flu shots for adults have the same mercury preservative and some doctors feel that five or more flu shots could trigger Alzheimer's disease. Other doctors feel that inflammation could be due to the viruses in the vaccines even though they are weakened versions of live viruses.
Well, conclusions will be reached sooner or later.
New studies are even implicating brain inflammation with mental depression.
Internal chronic inflammation increases with age, and medical science has now realized that this condition is the root cause of many serious diseases ranging from cancer and diabetes to heart disease. This is because of the lowered production of proteolytic enzymes, so the only... substances that we can safely take long term [to support the body's innate inflammation modulating mechanisms] are systemic enzymes.
Having discussed the very valuable therapeutic effects of systemic enzymes in general, we would now like to bring your attention to a particularly potent enzyme, serrapeptase.
The search for a superior enzyme offering safe and powerful [inflammation balancing support] led to the discovery of serrapeptase in the early 1970s. It was originally found in the silk worm, where it is naturally present in its intestine. This enzyme melts a hole out of the cocoon, thus enabling the moth to emerge unharmed.
We marvel at the intelligence in Nature that targets dead or inappropriate tissue without harming the whole. Now, however, serrapeptase is produced commercially through fermentation.
Serrapeptase is enteric coated to pass safely into the intestines, from where it is transported through the circulatory system to cells and tissues throughout the body. As we noted earlier, it has the ability to dissolve avital [non-living] tissue without damaging living cells.
Its [inflammation-modulating] effects have been found to be superior to those of other proteolytic enzymes, and among other conditions, it has been used to ease symptoms of:
• Chronic sinusitis,
• Traumatic injuries and Post operative inflammation,
• Cystitis [bladder inflammation],
• And for the elimination of bronchopulmonary secretions.
Unlike other biological enzymes, serrapeptase affects only non-living tissue such as old fibrous layers that narrow the lining of our arteries, restricting oxygen and blood flow to the brain. It became widely known after Dr. Hans Nieper, a German doctor, used it to address arterial blockage in his heart patients. Dr. Nieper described the amazing and quick recovery without surgery of two patients - “a woman scheduled to have her hand amputated and a man scheduled for bypass surgery" - after being treated with serrapeptase.
Some Final Cautions
In case our readers get carried away by the dramatic effects of systemic enzymes, we would like to add a few cautionary notes regarding people who should not use enzyme therapy except under strict medical supervision.
1. Individuals taking prescription blood thinners such as Coumadin, Heparin, and Plavix.
3. Anyone who is scheduled for surgery in less than two weeks.
4. Individuals with known ulcers of the stomach.
5. Individuals with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GRD).
6. Pregnant or lactating women.
7. Individuals currently taking antibiotics.
8. Individuals with allergic reactions to pineapple and papaya (the sources of two common proteolytic enzymes - bromelain and papain).
Key Reference Sources
• Dr. H.A. Nieper. "Silk Worm Enzymes for Carotid Artery Blockage." [Note: Transcripts of Dr. Nieper's seminars and writings on his experimental work employing serrapeptase supplementation to promote cardiovascular health are available from the Nieper Foundation archive at Brewer Science Library in Wisconsin (www.mwt.net/~drbrewer/cardio.htm)].
• Dr. William Wong. "What Are Systemic Enzymes And What Do They Do?"
* Reproduced with kind permission from http://ApplesAndDoctors.com © 2012 Apples and Doctors Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Note: This information has not been reviewed by the FDA. It is intended only to educate and inform; represents the research and opinions of the authors unless otherwise indicated; is not intended to prevent, diagnose, treat or cure any condition, illness, or disease; and is in no way intended to provide medical advice or replace the personal attention of a physician. It is very important that you make no change in your healthcare plan or health support regimen without researching and discussing it in collaboration with your professional healthcare team.
For more information, see also: "Help for Soreness and Swelling: What Do Silkworms Have to Do With It?"