advertisement



Q & A Library


Print this page | Sign up for free e-bulletins
 | Bookmark This Page

Q
Enzymes to Fight Inflammation?

I've recently read about the benefits of taking systemic enzyme supplements. The claims are that they fight inflammation and viruses, prevent blood clots, modulate the immune system, and cleanse the blood. What are your thoughts on these supplements?

A
Answer (Published 1/17/2012)

Enzymes are specialized protein molecules that catalyze (speed up) biochemical reactions. They are involved in all aspects of metabolism, growth and development, but there is generally no point in taking them as supplements. The reason is simple: enzymes that are ingested are simply broken down in the stomach and small intestine and digested like any other proteins. The only exceptions are the digestive enzymes made by the stomach and pancreas, which work in the gastrointestinal tract, and I occasionally recommend digestive enzyme supplements to patients who have digestive problems.

Related Weil Products
Dr. Weil's Vitamin Advisor for Supplements & Herbs - If you are interested in supplementing your diet, and want to take the mystery out of choosing vitamins, try Dr. Weil's Vitamin Advisor. Visit today for your free, personalized Dr. Weil's Vitamin Advisor Recommendation.

However, the pointlessness of taking systemic enzymes orally hasn't stopped promoters of systemic enzyme therapy from making many claims about the benefits of their products. Perhaps the best known of these is serratiopeptidase, an enzyme found in silkworm intestines that allows the emerging moth to dissolve its cocoon. Serratiopeptidase does appear to have anti-inflammatory properties, and it is being promoted online and elsewhere as a treatment for pain associated with arthritis, surgery, trauma and fibromyalgia. It is also is advertised as a treatment for atherosclerotic plaque, the buildup of cholesterol, fat, and calcium in arteries. The claim is that serratiopeptidase "digests" the substances that cause plaque without harming underlying tissue.

Most of the published research on serratiopeptidase focuses on its anti-inflammatory properties and, most recently, its potential as a substitute for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and as a topical treatment for inflammation. However, in February of 2011 a Japanese drug company voluntarily recalled its product generically called serrapeptase because double-blind studies comparing this agent to placebo showed no significant differences between the two. On the market since 1968, the drug was advertised as an effective treatment for conditions ranging from chronic bronchitis to sprained ankles.

Systemic enzyme therapy is also promoted for cancer treatment. Here, proponents claim that certain enzymes remove a protective coating from cancer cells, allowing white blood cells to identify and attack them. According to the American Cancer Society, no scientific evidence exists to support this claim and no well-designed studies have shown that enzyme supplements are effective in treating cancer.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved Creative Commons Copyright Notice
A portion of the original material created by Weil Lifestyle, LLC on DrWeil.com (specifically, all question and answer-type articles in the Dr. Weil Q&A Library) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

The Weil Vitamin Advisor
Get your FREE personalized vitamin recommendation & supplement plan today!

Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging
Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Start eating for your health - begin your free trial now.

Dr. Weil's Spontaneous Happiness
Achieve emotional well-being
in just eight weeks!
Start your 10-day free trial now!

Vitamin Library
Supplement your knowledge with Dr. Weil's essential vitamin facts. Learn why they are necessary and more.

Dr. Weil's Optimum Health Plan
Your 8-week plan to wellness.
Begin your journey today!
 

Dr. Weil's Head-to-Toe
Wellness Guide

Your guide to natural health.
Use the Wellness Guide today!

Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet Food Pyramid
Our interactive tool can help improve overall health through diet.

Condition Care Guide
Learn about health conditions from acne to vertigo, and Dr. Weil's view of the best treatment options for each.

Healthy Recipes
Discover a treasure trove of healthy, healing foods and creative, delicious ways to prepare them.

Q&A Library
Over 2,000 questions from you
and their corresponding answers
from Dr. Weil.

 
Copyright © 2014 Weil Lifestyle, LLC
Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

Ad Choice
Advertising Notice

This Site and third parties who place advertisements on this Site may collect and use information about your visits to this Site and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like to obtain more information about these advertising practices and to make choices about online behavioral advertising, please click here