Summary: Use a high quality non-acidic enzyme supplement as needed in large amounts, such as Enzymatic Therapy Mega-Zyme, Source Naturals Pancreatin 8x, Source Naturals Pancreatin Power, Now Bromelain, or Vitacost Bromelain. The amount of supplement necessary varies widely with the product’s potency and which might be five capsules at a time for Source Naturals Pancreatin 8x or Source Naturals Pancreatin Power, or 10 tablets of Enzymatic Therapy Mega-Zyme or 10 capsules for Vitacost Bromelain or 8 capsules of Now Bromelain or 26 tablets of Wobenzym.
Enzyme therapy is the practice of using large amounts of an enzyme supplement to fight various maladies such as cancer, allergies, degenerative diseases, digestive disorders, insufficient pancreas function, immune system dysfunction, and especially chronic and acute pain. Many if not most enzyme supplements are meant to be used in small amounts, such as 1 or 2 capsules or tablets at a time to assist digestion and are taken with meals.
There are three major classes of enzymes based on their function:
1. Lipase: Digests fat
2. Amylase: Digests starch
3. Protease: Digests protein
Other types of enzymes include the following:
4. Cellulase: Digests cellulose, a plant fiber
5. Lactase: Digests lactose, found in dairy products
6. Sucrase and Invertase: Catalyzes the conversion of sucrose into glucose and fructose.
These are the ingredients most often found in enzyme suppements:
Pancreatin: An extract or other preparation of pancreas enzymes, which contain all three types of enzymes, protease, lipase, and amylase.
Betain: Derived from beets and contains protease and lipase.
Bromelain: Pineapple enzyme that contains mostly protease.
Papain: An extract of papaya fruit that contains mostly protease.
Pepsin: A preparation of gastric juices that contains protease.
Trypsin and chymotrypsin: Specialized types of protease enzymes that break down protein into its amino acids, with trypsin working on proteins with arginine and lysine and chymotrypsin on tyrosine, phenylalanine, tryptophan, methionine, and leucine.
Ox bile: Not an enzyme, but included in enzyme supplements to augment the amount of bile produced by the liver.
HCL: Hydrochloric acid – Not an enzyme, but included in enzyme supplements to better digest protein and fat. It also appears to stimulate bile and pancreatic enzyme production in the body as well as nutrient absorption since many nutrients are best absorbed in an acid environment. It is often known as betaine HCL, not to be confused with betain (see above). The stomach produces HCL naturally to digest food and fight pathogens such as bacteria and other microorganisms.
Note that it is not usually important to provide amylase to digest starches. Starches are broken down into sugars, and most people do not need more sugar. Much of the amylase produced in the human body is contained in saliva, which is why if one chews a cracker, piece of bread, or other starch for a long time in the mouth it starts to taste sweet as the starches are converted into sugars.
The immune system uses enzymes to process debris as well as fight living pathogens. One type of immune cell engulfs microbes or debris and injects them with one or more of its limited number of enzyme “packets” to destroy them. Once an immune cell’s enzymes are depleted, the cell dies. It can even die before its enzymes are used up if the pathogen releases enough toxic byproducts when it dissolves. Antioxidants help protect the body cells from this type of damage, which is why antioxidants can be directly beneficial to the immune system.
Enzymes assist the body to fight detox reaction in other ways as well. Proteolytic (protein digesting) enzymes like pancreatin, besides their many other benefits, help the body digest protein and fat. This provides more nutrients to assist detoxification. One of these nutrients is sulfur, which is found mostly in protein in the diet. Although an acid mineral, sulfur aids in the elimination of toxic substances, catalyzes enzyme reactions, and increases cellular all of which are necessary for the body to rebuild and maintain muscles and connective tissues. Enzymes are also one of the best supplement to use when there are congested lymph nodes, which can be the most painful manifestation of detox reaction.
Enzymes are also anti-inflammatory and fight pain, especially when used in large amounts. Enzyme Therapy involves using enzymes in sufficient dose to combat these problems, and is very effective and highly recommended for painful conditions. For this purpose, only non-acidic enzyme supplements are used since using too much of a product that contains an acidic component like ox bile or hydrochloric acid (HCL) can upset the stomach. Suitable enzymes products are usually either pancreatin, a pancreas enzyme, or bromelain, which is pineapple enzyme. Pancreatin tends to offer more digestive power for the money, but bromelain is better absorbed by some people, making it more effective. It may be a question of blood type as to which is more effective (see D’Adamo’s Eat Right 4 Your Type) with blood type A’s doing better on bromelain and pancreatin being more effective for blood type O’s.
Examples of high potency pancreatin products include Enzymatic Therapy Mega-Zyme 10x, supplement that comes in small aspirin-sized tablets and contains full strength pancreas enzymes. It has no odor, unlike many pancreatin supplements. Other example are Source Naturals Pancreatin 8x and Source Naturals Pancreatin Power Digestive Enzymes, which although slightly lower in potency by weight, contain over twice as much activity per serving since they contain a full 500mg of pancreatin per capsule. Naturally Vitamins’ Wobenzym is probably the most popular enzyme product the world over to use in large amounts, although it is not as high in potency and more expensive than the Source Naturals or Enzymatic Therapy products.
Pancreatin potency is measured in USP units of activity. A reasonable amount to use to combat acute pain or detox reaction is 500,000 USP units. This would be 5 capsules of Source Naturals’ Pancreatin 8x or Pancreatin Power, 12 tablets of Mega-Zyme, or 26 tablets of Wobenzym. However, Wobenzym does contain additional digestive ingredients such as papain, bromelain, and other nutrients, and the Mega-Zyme does include critical cofactors for enzyme absorption, so as little as half these amounts may be as effective. But this provides an illustration of why some complementary health advocates recommend using truly huge amounts of enzymes such as Wobenzym when fighting serious diseases, sometimes suggesting that the tablets not even be counted but used by the handful. This should not be necessary when using a high potency enzyme product.
Some people prefer not to use pancreatin, particularly vegetarians, and as mentioned earlier, blood type A’s may find bromelain more effective for their needs anyway. Bromelain is usually measured in either GDUs (gelatin digesting units) or MCUs (milk clotting units). Although it varies a good deal, MCUs are usually double the amount of GDUs, i.e., a bromelain product of 4000 MCU potency would be the equivalent to one of 2000 GDU potency. GDUs can be confusing, though. GDU is typically a measure of bromelain potency per gram, so when a bromelain products states it is of 2000 GDU potency and comes in 500mg capsules, it contains 1000 GDU per capsule. Adding to this confusion is some bromelain products, usually combinations, state the bromelain potency per capsule. Either way, a good amount to take per serving is 10,000 GDUs for acute detox and pain problems. Since bromelain comes in such a wide range of potencies, it is very important to ensure one of adequate strength.
Some bromelain products contain as little as 200 GDU potency in which case 100 capsules at a time might be necessary. High potency products include Now Bromelain, which is 2400 GDU and requires 8 capsules at time as well as Vitacost Bromelain and Source Naturals Pineapple Supplement 2000GDU/Gram (not to be confused with the low potency Source Naturals Bromelain), both 2000 GDU requiring 10 at a time.
For fighting cancer, one of the main components that is thought to be helpful is chymotrypsin, although trypsin may also be just as necessary. Almost all pancreatin supplements contain at least some of these but few rate their products for them. Enzymatic Therapy MegaZymes