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Oral Proteolytic Enzymes
Orally administered pancreatic enzyme preparations have been used for the treatment of inflammation, injuries and shingles soubreaks for over 30 years. Inflammation is part of the body's normal healing response to injury and infections. However, severe injury or infection can trigger an inflammatory cascade that can cause complications, excessive pain and hinder the healing process. Numerous studies have shown that proteolytic enzymes taken orally reduce pain and inflammation from injuries and surgery. (10)(17)(18)(19) Proteolytic enzyme supplementation reduces inflammation by neutralizing bradykinins and pro-inflammatory eicosanoids to levels where the synthesis, repair and regeneration of injured tissues can begin.
Absorption of Oral Proteolytic Enzymes
Enzymes are proteins and proteins are broken down by the digestive process into discrete amino acids. The question has been raised as to how orally administered enzymes could possibly get into the blood and produce a therapeutic effect. Early sudies demonstrated therapeutic effects from proteolytic enzymes administered by injection. Later studies done in the 1950's and 1960's demonstrated that enterically coated proteolytic enzymes administered orally are absorbed into the blood and produce physiological effects. Studies were performed on papain, bromelain, chymotrypsin and trypsin that was enterically coated. (3)(4)(5)(6)(7)(8)(9)
Enteric coating is a substance used to protect the enzymes from stomach acid but dissolve in the intestines and allow the enzymes to be absorbed intact through the intestinal wall.
Shingles - Herpes Zoster (Chicken Pox)
Proteolytic enzymes may be helpful for the initial attack of shingles. Shingles is caused by the herpes zoster virus, the same virus that causes chicken pox. A double-blind study of 190 people with shingles compared proteolytic enzymes to the antiviral drug acyclovir. Participants were treated for 14 days and their pain was assessed at intervals. Both groups had similar pain relief, but the enzyme-treated group experienced fewer side effects. Another double-blind study in which 90 people were given either an injection of acyclovir or proteolytic enzymes followed by a course of oral medication for 7 days showed similar beneficial results. (20)(21)(57)(58)(59)
Additional studies have investigated the use of proteolytic enzymes as a treatment for other viral agents including HIV (60), Hepatitis C (61)(64) and Hepatitis B (62)(63). The results reported were generally positive but more research is needed.
Proteolytic enzymes and Sports Injuries
A double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 44 people with sports-related ankle injuries found that treatment with proteolytic enzymes improved healing time by about 50%. (22) Three additional small double-blind studies, involving a total of about 80 athletes, found that treatment with proteolytic enzymes significantly improved the healing of bruises and other mild athletic injuries as compared to placebo.(23)(24)(25) Another study involving 71 individuals with finger fractures found that treatment with proteolytic enzymes improved recovery times. (26) In another double-blind trial, 100 people were treated for experimentally induced hematomas (bruises) with proteolytic enzymes. The researchers found that enzyme treatment significantly speeded recovery. (27)
Proteolytic Enzymes and Surgery
Numerous studies using several different proteolytic enzyme protocols with surgery patients have produced mixed results. The mixed results may represent the use of different enzyme protocols in the different studies. The use of mixed proteolytic enzymes was found to be beneficial in knee surgery, oral surgery, dental surgery, episotomy surgery, nasal surgery, foot surgery and cataract removal. (28)(29)(30)(31)(32)(33)(34)(35)(36)(37)(38)(39)(40)(41)(42)
Chronic Musculoskeletal Pain
A double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of 30 people with chronic neck pain found that use of a proteolytic enzyme mixture (Wobenzm) modestly reduced pain symptoms as compared to a placebo.(43)
Proteolytic Enzymes and Osteoarthritis
A clinical trial demonstrated significant improvement for individuals with degenerative arthritis of the lower spine and sciatica-type leg pain. (49)(50) A study involving more than 300 people compared proteolytic enzymes to the standard anti-inflammatory medications for the treatment of osteoarthritis of the shoulder, back, or knee. The results showed equivalent benefits with the supplement and the medication. (44)(45)
Proteolytic enzymes in Cancer Ttherapy
The use of proteolytic enzymes for cancer treatment began with Scotish Embryologist John Beard. Beard noted the similarity between placenta cells and cancer cells and the regulation of the growth of both types of cells fetal pancreatic proteolytic enzymes. (Placenta cells are now called stem cells) He published his work in his book The Enzyme Treatment of Cancer and its Scientific Basis. Following Beard, proteolytic enzymes have been promoted by numerous alternative cancer practitioners. More recently Nicholas Gonzalez, M.D. is evaluating the benefit of proteolytic enzymes in patients with advanced pancreatic cancer in a large-scale study, funded by the National Institute of Health's National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, with collaboration from the National Cancer Institute. This larger trial is a follow-up to a smaller study that showed dramatic positive results.
The clinical research that currently exists on proteolytic enzymes suggests significant benefits in the treatment of many forms of cancer. These studies have shown improvements in the general condition of patients with cancers of the breast lung, stomach, head and neck, ovaries, cervix, and colon along with lymphomas and multiple myeloma. These studies involved the use of proteolytic enzymes in conjunction with conventional therapy (surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiation). The results showed modest to significant improvements in quality of life and life expectancy. (65)(66)
In some infrequent cases, proteolytic enzymes have been associated with digestive upset or allergic reactions. (47) In addition, pancreatin may interfere with folate absorption. (46) Papain and bromelain may have anti-coagulant properties and could complicate bleeding disorders or interfere with anti-coagulant medications. Bromelain may increase the blood concentration of certain anti-biotics and may interact with certain sedatives.(47) Individuals with malabsorption syndromes are often deficient in fat digesting lilpases and, therefore, should use enzyme mixtures that are high in lipase and low in proteolytic enzymes because the proteolytic enzymes may destroy lipase. (48) Colon damage has been reported in children with cystic fibrosis who receive enzyme therapy. The exact mechanism and parameters are not clearly understood. Children with cystic fibrosis should avoid proteolytic enzymes until this issue is better understood. (51)(52)(53)(54)(55)(56)
For the majority of individuals , oral proteolytic enzymes are considered quite safe.
Oral Proteolytic Enzyme References
Oral Proteolytic Enzyme references can be viewed Here .