Enzymes are energized protein molecules found in all living cells. In essence, they are the spark of life that catalyze and regulate all biochemical reactions that occur in the body. There are approximately 2,700 different enzymes found in the human body that can combine with co-enzymes to form approximately 100,000 biochemical substances that enable us to see, hear, feel, move, think, reproduce and digest our food.

Dr. Max Wolf, a medical doctor at Columbia University who researched enzymes and hormones from the 1930’s through the 1960’s determined that enzyme production in humans diminishes rapidly after age 27. The vital force provided by an abundance of enzymes in a young person enables them to recover quickly from illness and injuries and gives them the flexibility, agility and energy to accomplish great feats. It appears that as we age, depending on our lifestyle, diet and inherent enzyme potential, digestive difficulties may develop, the immune system must work harder, degenerative diseases may appear, and strength, flexibility, endurance and mental acuity decrease.

There are three types of enzymes: digestive enzymes and metabolic or systemic enzymes which are produced by the body, and food enzymes which must be obtained from the live foods that we eat. Digestive enzymes are secreted by the digestive system to break down food into nutrients to be absorbed into the bloodstream and to eliminate waste. The human digestive system secretes the proteolytic protein-digesting enzymes protease, trypsin and pepsin, fat-digesting enzymes lipase and cholesterol esterase, and enzymes that break down carbohydrates including amylase, sucrase, maltase, lactase, and ptyalin. The body does not make cellulase, an enzyme necessary for digestion of fiber that is present in raw plant foods, however the microflora in the intestines can manufacture cellulase if a sufficient colony of these beneficial bacteria has been established by eating fermented foods. Fermentation is a natural way to preserve food and substantially enhances enzyme content.

Nature did not design us to make all of the enzymes necessary for digestion, but intended us to ingest most of our enzymes from live foods. For thousands of years our ancestors ate mostly raw and fermented meats, dairy and plant foods and had few if any of the health problems we have today.  Even today, the native Eskimos that still eat this traditional diet are recognized as some of the healthiest people on the planet.

Heating food above 116 degrees destroys the vital enzymes in food, forcing us to rely on our own enzyme reserves to finish the job of digestion. This presents a real problem for modern man, since cooked food dominates our diets. Plant enzymes are most abundant in vine-ripened fruits and vegetables that are just picked. In a matter of days after picking, enzyme levels typically drop by 50%. Considering that most produce travels an average of 1,200 miles to get to our table and is often picked unripe to survive the trip, enzyme levels are sadly deficient in the modern diet.

Systemic enzymes work throughout the body in every system and organ. They deliver nutrients to the cells and tissues for nourishment and regeneration. They initiate and speed up chemical reactions within the cells for energy production and detoxification. They provide the energy we use to rebuild muscles, cells, nerves, tissues, bones and glands. They are instrumental in balancing the hormones, regulating the immune system and producing the neurotransmitters that modulate our emotions and enhance mental clarity. They reduce inflammation, activate healing and relieve pain. They clean up the blood of undigested food particles and pathogens. They also dissolve excess arterial plaque, strengthen blood vessels and prevent blood clots. They dissolve scar tissue, adhesions, tumors and cysts. They regulate metabolism to maintain optimum weight, and they rejuvenate aging muscles, joints and skin.

Systemic enzymes are produced by every living cell, however, the liver, pancreas, gall bladder and other organs play a vital role in their production. Some of the enzymes used for digestion also perform other important functions in the body systemically. When we are deficient in any of these enzymes due to depleted reserves and insufficient dietary intake of raw foods, there will not be enough enzymes left after digestion to be used in the body for other functions, and health problems occur. More than likely, there will not even be enough enzymes available to completely digest our food. Likewise, by taking digestive enzyme supplements with our meals and systemic enzymes between meals, many of these conditions can be reversed and healed.

For example, when there is a deficiency in the starch digesting enzyme amylase, blood sugar imbalances can occur. Protease deficiency can result in immune system disorders. Fat-digesting lipase deficiency can contribute to high cholesterol and triglycerides, gall bladder problems, hormonal imbalance, obesity, psoriasis, and vertigo. Maltase deficiency can cause sensitivity to environmental toxins. Cellulase deficiency can cause malabsorption of nutrients, bloating and candida overgrowth. Combinations of deficiencies can result in more serious conditions such as Crohn’s Disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and cancer.   Enzyme supplementation has been known to help all of these conditions.

Therapeutic use of enzymes has been studied and used extensively in Europe, Asia and to a lesser extent the United States for at over 40 years. As early as 1912 Scottish physician John Beard discovered that pancreatic cancer patients were not making sufficient pancreatic enzymes, so he gave them fresh sheep pancreas extracts and they got better. In the 1970’s German physician, Dr. Karl Ransbager healed himself of a terminal kidney disease with enzymes he produced and sold to other doctors.

In spite of what has been taught in medical schools, research has proven that systemic enzyme supplements are not destroyed by the stomach acid and in fact, have great benefits. Studies also show that there are no toxic levels of enzymes, so they are very safe, even for children and pregnant women. It is also important to note that if we provide the body with enzyme supplements, the body does not decrease its own enzyme production. The only precaution for using systemic enzymes would be for those that are taking blood-thinning medication, as the enzymes naturally cleanse the blood and improve circulation, giving blood-thinning drugs a stronger effect.

Proteolytic enzymes such as protease break down protein. Taken with meals, protease enhances the breakdown and assimilation of dietary proteins. When proteolytic enzymes are taken between meals they go about the business of cleaning up the bloodstream and tissues of foreign proteins including pathogenic bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungal strains that cause respiratory illness and Candida. Viruses are encapsulated by a protein coating that enables them to attach to and invade healthy cells. Proteolytic enzymes can digest this protective protein coating and render viruses inert and harmless to the body. Cancer cells also have a protein coating that is vulnerable to proteolytic enzymes. This is possible due to the lock and key mechanism that ensures that enzymes target and destroy only substances that are harmful to the body, while leaving healthy cells alone.

Proteolytic enzymes also reduce the pain, redness and swelling of inflammation by targeting and eating away at the excess circulating immune complexes (CIC’s), or prostaglandins, that perpetuate the inflammation. Approximately 100,000 Americans end up in the hospital and 20,000 die each year from the toxic side effects of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID’s). The dangers of medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen, Naproxen, Vioxx, Celebrex and other Cox 2 inhibitors are well known. Unlike enzymes, these drugs act by destroying CIC’s, but don’t discriminate between the CIC’s that are causing the inflammation and the CIC’s that are necessary to maintain the healthy function of the vital organs. The effects of these drugs can be devastating, especially when taken long-term as many of them are. Kidney function can shut down, liver toxicity escalates, and the lining of the intestines doesn’t renew itself allowing the gastric juices to bore holes through the intestinal wall, leading to internal bleeding and even hemorrhage.

Due to their anti-inflammatory properties, systemic enzymes have been used successfully to reduce inflammation and speed the healing of wounds and injuries. In Germany, when a patient is admitted to the hospital with severe trauma and injury, they are given concentrated doses of enzymes to control tissue inflammation and swelling of the brain. If the patient is unconscious they are given the enzymes in a retention enema. Systemic enzyme therapy has also effectively been used to treat arthritis, including rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune disorders such as multiple sclerosis due to the enzymes’ ability to target excess antibodies and modulate the immune system.

Fibrinolytic enzymes are systemic enzymes that eat away the excess fibrin that forms scar tissue, adhesions, and growths. Fibrin is essential for wound healing in that it lays down the framework for the new tissue to grow, much like a steel frame provides structure for a building. In our youth injuries heal very quickly often without a trace of a scar due to healthy levels of fibrin-eating enzymes. As we get older, fibrinolytic enzymes decrease and wounds leave bigger scars. Uterine fibroids, fibrocystic breasts, and the hardening, shrinking, and decreased function of aging organs are a result of an accumulation of fibrin in the body due to a depletion of fibrinolytic enzymes. Excess fibrin is also responsible for the spider web of scar tissue across the inside of blood vessels that forms the matrix upon which arterial plaque is laid down. Excess fibrin can also form in the kidneys contributing to high blood pressure, and in the brain causing poor brain function and senility.

The pain and suffering of fibromyalgia is caused by an overgrowth of fibrin in the muscles, known as fibrosis. The pain of this disease is so great that even pain medication does not relieve it. Dr. William Wong, N.D., Ph.D., himself a former fibromyalgia patient and advocate of enzyme therapy, describes fibromyalgia as a condition that develops as a result of stress, estrogen dominance (due to environmental toxins) and fibrosis which produces a tremendous amount of scar tissue in the muscles. These knots of fibrosis in the muscles plug up the microcirculation that feeds the tissue resulting in pain. Fibrinolytic enzymes dissolve the excess fibrin in the muscles providing increased flexibility and blessed relief of pain.

The strongest fibrinolytic enzyme known is serrapeptase, which is what silkworms secrete to dissolve the silk that they produce. This is significant, since even a bullet cannot penetrate silk. For 30 years Dr. Hans Neiper used serrapeptase on cardiac patients to open up the blood vessels. Known as “poor man’s chelation”, Dr. Neiper claimed that in two years this therapy could completely open the vascular system. Now serrapeptase is formulated from a plant source and has been remarkably successful when used in combination with other enzymes in treating fibromyalgia and dissolving arterial plaque, postoperative scars and keloids. Even old scars and adhesions respond to enzyme therapy.

Dr. Wong tells the remarkable story of his wife who had an emergency C-section with the delivery of their son. As is common after abdominal surgery, a tremendous amount of scar tissue formed throughout her abdominal cavity, threatening to strangle her intestines. He knew that more surgery would just perpetuate the problem. Dr. Wong gave his wife serrapeptase to attempt to reduce the scarring, however it wasn’t until he discovered Vitalzym, a unique vegetarian blend of systemic enzymes including serrapeptase, proteolytic enzymes and other enzymes and nutrients, that his wife got results. Within eight weeks after taking Vitalzym, all of the scar tissue had dissolved and surgery was no longer needed. A more potent, enhanced therapeutic formula called VitalzymX has since been produced and is available from conventional and holistic health professionals. VitalzymX is also an effective anti-inflammatory and immune system modulator and is rejuvenating to the entire body. I have experienced the extraordinary healing power of this enzyme formula both personally and with clients, and highly recommend it.

It is important to get adequate magnesium (1,000 mg to 2,000 mg) and zinc (30 mg) supplementation when taking systemic enzymes since these minerals are needed to activate the enzymes. This is particularly true if there is muscle pain.

The benefits of enzyme therapy are numerous and profound, and would be an excellent complement to any health program. Combined with a natural diet rich in live foods, exercise and a positive attitude, vibrant health and longevity can be a reality.

Note: I am now recommending Fibrozym systemic enzyme formula instead of Vitalzym.