What are Enzymes?

Enzymes are substances produced in animals and plants that are used to break down proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. They are involved in digestion, cell turnover, blood clotting, cell division, immune functions, and inflammation reduction. Enzymes are made by the body and used also as messengers. They signal cells through membrane receptors to do just about everything. In chemistry speak, enzymes usually are named with an “-ase” at the end. A Lipase is an enzyme that breaks down lipids; a Protease breaks down proteins; lactase breaks down lactose (the sugar in milk); galactase breaks down galactose (a sugar), and so on. Enzymes are essential for life!

Currently, over 3000 different enzymes have been identified in the human body. They perform millions of functions necessary for metabolism, breaking things down to component parts and rebuilding others to create everything that keeps us alive and functioning normally. Enzymes are the “Bob the Builder” of the body. Without them, there would be no breathing, no exchange of oxygen, no digestion, little absorption, no growth, no normal cell recycling, no sensory perception, no reproduction, no – well, you get it, we’d be dead!

What are they used for?

Unfortunately, if inflammation is severe enough, these naturally occurring enzymes are either inactivated or cannot get to their sites of action. However, supplementing with enzymes can be an easy solution. Enzymes have been documented in hundreds of medical literature reports to have effectiveness for the following conditions: bruising, sprains, strains, fractures, low back pain, dental surgery, digestive difficulties, arthritis, and even CANCER.

In the article “Sports Injuries and Proteolytic Enzymes”, the authors summarized 14 studies on proteolytic enzymes. Over 1500 subjects were studied. “Favorable results were obtained in every study, with all reporting significant improvements in reduction of pain, swelling, edema, recovery time, period of disability, time of return to normal activities and leg-raise stiffness (for low back pain). The amount of time needed to resolve injuries was halved in most subjects with supplements.” (1)

“Further research has shown that proteolytic enzyme use will: 1) speed up the inflammatory process and bring it to a conclusion; 2) help clean up the waste products in the area; 3) decrease pain and swelling; 4) dissolve any small blood clots floating nearby; 5) improve the supply of nutrients to the tissue, improving circulation; and 6) aid in easing blood flow.” (2)

For Cancer?

Dr. John Beard, an embryologist, proposed in 1906 that pancreatic, proteolytic, digestive enzymes represent the body’s main defense against cancer, and that enzyme therapy would be useful as a treatment for all types of cancer. (3) Particularly during the first two decades of the twentieth century, Dr. Beard’s thesis attracted some attention in academic circles, and several case reports in the medical literature documented tumor regression and even remission in terminal cancer patients treated with proteolytic enzymes.  In 1911, Dr. Beard published a monograph entitled The Enzyme Therapy of Cancer and Its Scientific Basis, which summarized his therapy and the supporting evidence.

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Dr. William Donald Kelley was a Texas dentist who for twenty years had been treating cancer patients with a complicated nutritional therapy based on Beard’s enzyme treatment theories. Dr. Kelley suggested that each patient take large amounts of pancreatic enzymes daily, taken with and away from meals and spread evenly throughout the day. The pancreatic enzymes were just one aspect of his anti-cancer program. He believed that these pancreatic enzymes travel to the tumor and only digest the cancer, without harming the person’s body in which the cancer is growing.

There are some studies that have examined the effects of enzyme treatment on cancer, as researchers understand it today. These studies demonstrate that enzyme treatment has an effect on cancer markers, antibody production and the immune system.

The adhesion molecule CD44 and variants of the molecule on tumor cells are involved in the process of tumor progression and metastasis (Gebauer et al, 1997). One study investigated the effects of the proteases (bromelain, papain, trypsin, and chymotrypsin) on the density of CD44 molecules present on human leukemia Molt 4/8 cells (Harrach, 1994). The protease bromelain (a human body enzyme) was found to be most active in reducing CD44 receptor density. These findings implicate the possibility of the anti-metastatic activity of orally administrated bromelain with respect to CD44.

Another study investigated the ability of several proteolytic enzymes to modulate the CD44 molecule on different tumor cell lines (Gebauer et al, 1997). They found that proteolytic enzymes like bromelain, papain, and chymotrypsin were able to modulate CD44 on cells of leukemic origin, as well as on melanoma and mammary carcinoma cell lines. These results imply that treatment with proteolytic enzymes might be useful in reducing the metastatic behaviour of malignant cells. Wald et al (2001) also found a correlation with a decreased expression of CD44 and CD54 molecules in tumors exposed to proteolytic enzymes in vivo.

In one study, the experimental group of Swiss mice had a 260% increase in antibody production with the addition of 2% pancreatin to the diet, which indicated an immune enhancement effect for orally ingested pancreatin (King, 1965b). Another study on humans demonstrated that a proteolytic agent increased the T-cell counts significantly and this was most marked in older age groups and the patients with malignant disease (Holland et al, 1975), indicating that proteolytic enzymes may have an immune enhancing effect.

We don’t believe that enzymes “treat cancer” or any other disease for that matter. We DO however, acknowledge the documented facts that enzymes have enormous benefits in both cancer and non-cancer patients. Enzymes are certainly an easy thing to add to one’s cancer protocol whether they are choosing traditional therapies or not as the only negative reaction we’ve experienced is a looseness in bowel habits easily remedied by backing off of dosage.

The downside of following Dr. Kelley’s suggested cancer protocol has always been dosage. He recommended 75-150 capsules of proteolytic, pancreatic enzymes per day. That is a daunting number for even the most motivated patient. We have been able to alter that dosage using a more potent, fermented enzyme, DigestXym X, from US Enzymes, having seen good results with 20-40 capsules per day. We are, however, coupling any recommended care with numerous other therapies as well and believe wholeheartedly in a synergistic approach.

Besides cancer, enzymes taken at high-dosage (20-80 per day) for short periods of time (1-4 days) may be extremely beneficial for inflammation and swelling, diabetes, neuropathy, gout, other arthritis, and many other disorders.

For more information, please call our clinic – 651-739-1248

(1) L Bucci, J Stiles, Sports Injuries and Proteolytic Enzymes, Today’s Chiropractic, Mar/Apr 1987, 31-34 L. Bucci, Proteolytic Enzymes and Acute Injuries, The Nutritional Supplement Advisor; Chiropractic Products; June 1988

(2) A Cichoke, Enzymes and Enzyme Therapy, Keats Publishing, p. 182

(3) Beard J. The action of trypsin upon the living cells of Jensen’s mouse tumor. Br Med J 4, 140-141, 1906.