I saved an article about a timely topic that I wanted to share about the pros and cons of using enzyme supplements.
It features answers by Dr. Brent Bauer, director of Mayo Clinic’s Complementary and Integrative Medicine Programs, I think its well worth a look. Here’s an excerpt:
“They’ve (enzyme supplements) become so popular. Like so many dietary supplements, patients are looking for something to help their health, so they’re reading about over-the-counter enzymes as one of those many dietary supplements, and all of a sudden we’re seeing sales go through the roof. A huge challenge with dietary supplements is that most haven’t been tested as most drugs are. We have a lot of information, but we don’t have definitive information. So our patients hear a lot of positive things, but they do not always hear the negatives or the side effects. So we’re trying to be very evidence-based. We don’t want to say no, there’s no reason to ever take an over-the-counter enzyme. By the same token, we don’t want to just rush out and buy it because we heard somebody say something positive on TV.”
What are some of the reasons people take enzyme supplements?
“We have a lot of natural enzymes in our bodies. They help us digest food. There are clearly medical reasons to use enzymes. If a patient’s pancreas isn’t working, for example, that patient may need to take a medically prescribed enzyme supplement. That’s a little different story from a healthy person who wants to use over-the-counter bromelain, or papain—the enzymes that come from the pineapple and the papaya—or trypsin, or chymotrypsin. The reasons people might use those center around digestion: Maybe they’re getting older, they’re having more gas and bloating, so they think if they take an enzyme it will help their digestion. There are also some anti-inflammatory effects, so some people will use those enzymes to try to reduce inflammation, maybe help with osteoarthritis. And there’s a long history of these being used as anti-cancer agents. The challenge from a physician standpoint is that the evidence for each of those is pretty limited. We just don’t have the data to say, `No, it doesn’t work. Yes, it does work.’ We’re stuck.”
What if I want to try over-the-counter enzymes? Are there any side effects?
“Fortunately, for most over-the-counter enzymes, unless you’re taking super-high doses, the risks are pretty minimal. Some people get gastrointestinal upset or some irritation. So I’ll have that conversation with my patients: If they want to try enzymes, I want them to understand the risks, the potential benefits, the limited amount of evidence. And then if we’re going to use it, I try to do it in a short trial period, use it for two or three weeks. If you notice a big improvement, it doesn’t mean it works, but it means maybe for you it’s something you might want to continue with. If it’s not working, don’t just keep taking more and hoping for something magical to happen.”
I was going to list the most common digestive enzymes. Unfortunately, most enzyme supplements are concoctions put together and marketed by supplement companies; it’s tough to pin down the ingredients.
And that’s one of the issues, right? We should know and understand what we’re putting in our bodies and why, especially when undergoing chemotherapy or taking other prescription medications.
Here’s a link to the MedicalXpress article I quoted earlier. You may want to give it a look:
I’m doing some research and I’ll post more about enzyme therapy later this week. Please proceed with caution!
Feel good and keep smiling! Pat