Enzyme Therapy Muscatine IA
General Practice, Family Practice
Alternative Medicine Cabinet - Enzyme Therapy: Is It Worth It?
By Catherine Guthrie
Dairy products are an occupational hazard for Barry Marcus. As a pastry chef instructor, the 51-year-old must nibble nonstop on the sweet creations his students concoct during class. Each bite of pastry is almost sure to contain milk, butter, or cream.
The problem isn’t so much the calories or fat (though they’re not exactly health-inducing) but that Marcus is lactose intolerant, which means his body doesn’t make enough lactase—the enzyme that breaks down lactose—to allow him to indulge his pastry passion. “Just a teaspoon of milk is enough to make me really uncomfortable the next day,” he says.
So Marcus leans heavily on an enzyme supplement that breaks down the lactose in dairy products. “I’m like a drug addict,” he chuckles. “I pop those pills all day long. Lactaid saved my life.”
Odds are you know someone like Marcus whose gustatory pleasures are dependent on enzyme products such as Lactaid and Beano. In cases like this, conventional doctors don’t hesitate to recommend enzyme supplements. But for decades, alternative practitioners have been tapping enzymes to treat a much wider range of problems, from arthritis to cancer. And new research suggests this widespread application may, indeed, be worthwhile. Here’s why.
What are enzymes?
The thousands of enzymes at work in the body can be divided into two main categories: digestive and metabolic (aka nondigestive). Digestive enzymes work inside the gastrointestinal (GI) tract to break down fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. Without the proper digestive enzymes, the body can’t absorb nutrients from food. Metabolic enzymes, on the other hand, work to repair damaged cells, build new ones, and fuel all the body’s biochemical activities.
When should you supplement?
Enzyme enthusiasts claim that the modern-day diet and environmental toxins impair the body’s ability to make enzymes. Everything people do, from cooking their food to taking prescription drugs to drinking fluoridated water, kills enzymes, says Lita Lee, a chemist and coauthor of The Enzyme Cure. “And many health conditions can be linked to an enzyme deficiency.” That’s why proponents say it makes sense to take supplemental enzymes, which are made from plants and animal organs (primarily the pancreas).
Many Western physicians, however, disagree. They say a healthy person produces far more (some say up to ten times more) enzymes than the body needs to maintain health. So, who to believe? There’s no easy answer, but there is some consensus.
Both alternative and conventional practitioners agree that supplemental enzymes are helpful for people who can’t produce certain enzymes on their own, such as those with cystic fibrosis or Gaucher’s disease, a metabolic disorder. Enzyme therapy is also becoming more common on both fronts as a treatment for people with poor digestion and food allergies. Millions of Americans suffer from stomach woes, such as constipation, inflammatory bowel disease, celiac disease, and g...
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