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What Are Therapeutic Enzymes?

By L.S. Ware
Updated May 17, 2024
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Enzymes are complex proteins that accelerate bodily chemical reactions. Therapeutic enzymes are utilized in the treatment of diseases such as chronic lung disease and multiple sclerosis. Many dietary supplements and medications contain one or more enzymes. Additional applications include detection of the presence of a disease, the severity of a disease, and monitoring of therapeutic responses.

Enzymes are found virtually everywhere, from both plant and animal sources. There are, however, some that are not produced by the human body that are necessary for certain functions. Cellulase is a prime example of this, being produced only by plants and assisting with digestion. Amylase, pepsin, and lipase are other digestive enzymes often utilized in supplements.

Determining uses in preventative medicine has been a priority of the research and study of various enzymes. Therapeutic enzymes have been found to be beneficial in the treatment of various types of inflammation. Cleaning the bloodstream of necrotic debris and the prevention of inappropriate clotting are benefits of some proteolytic enzymes such as nattokinase. Serrapeptase, also known as serratiopeptidase, provides for the treatment of conditions like chronic sinusitis and carpal tunnel syndrome.

One of the early uses of therapeutic enzymes was the inhibition or prevention of blood clots caused by excessive fibrin production. It has been found that when streptokinase or similar enzymes are administered soon after the onset of a myocardial infarction, or heart attack, further damage to the heart can be reduced. Issues, including the potentiality for allergic reactions to and the rapid degradation of enzymes, have inhibited the development of the use of enzymes in a therapeutic environment.

Through the decades, the use of therapeutic enzymes has evolved as researchers gain further understanding of how the immune, digestive, and nervous systems work together. Persons suffering from relatively minor issues such as lactose intolerance to those with severe disorders such as autism are among those who may benefit from therapeutic enzymes. The specific enzyme or enzymes required for treatment vary, and side effects should be considered prior to initiating treatment.

Assisting with digestive function is perhaps the most prevalent use of therapeutic enzymes as of 2011. They can alleviate issues caused by excessive or insufficient bacterial growth in the gut. Fiber-digesting enzymes like cellulase can be used to inhibit the growth of candida yeast. Further supplements containing enzymes are used for tasks like breaking down fats, as in the case of lipase, or enhancing mental capacity.

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