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Enzyme Therapy

Find a professional for Enzyme Therapy in Bridgeport

Enzyme therapy is a method aimed at improving digestion and maintaining balanced metabolism though the supplementation of plant and animal enzymes.  Enzymes are proteins utilized in the body to perform thousands of chemical reactions essential for life.  An example of an enzyme is amylase, which breaks down starch in the digestive tract.  For this type of therapy, enzymes are extracted from plants or pig and cow organs.  Next they are purified and put into a capsule or tablet form, with the exception of pancreatic enzymes, which can also be injected.  In digestive disorders the enzymes are taken just before a meal, where as non-digestive disorders require them to be taken an hour before meals to be absorbed quickly into the blood.

In conventional medicine enzyme therapy is typically used to treat disorders like Gaucher's disease, diabetes, cystic fibrosis, and celiac disease.  Other disorders that enzyme therapy has shown effectiveness in are anxiety, anemia, AIDS, chronic fatigue syndrome, acute inflammation, food allergies, colitis, gout, multiple sclerosis, infection, obesity, hepatitis, nervous disorders, premenstrual syndrome, and stress.  There has even been some evidence that supports pancreatic enzymes as useful in fighting cancer.
Dr. Edward Howell first developed enzyme therapy in the 1920s, with the theory that enzymes pre-digest foods in the stomach.  He promoted the consumption of large amounts of plant enzymes to boost digestion, metabolism function and energy conservation.  Current advances in this therapy include a new type called Raplagal, which utilizes enzymes to treat Fabry's disease.  Fabry's disease hinders a person's ability to adequately digest fats, resulting in heart and kidney problems later in life.

Though enzyme therapy can be a very safe and effective treatment, some cautions exist.  Enzyme supplements can cause allergic reactions in people with allergies to pineapples, papaya, beef or pork depending on the derivation of their enzyme supplements. Enzyme therapy has been associated with the following side effects: vomiting, diarrhea, heartburn, nausea, gas, bloating and acne.  These are temporary and should resolve on their own.  Adequate exercise and hydration can help in alleviating these side effects.  Enzyme therapy is not contraindicated in pregnancy, however these women should first consult their physician.  Pregnant women should avoid animal derived enzyme supplements.
Due to enzymes being classifieds as a food by the FDA, they can be purchased with out a prescription.  However, insurance coverage varies by provider and usually requires a prescription.  Currently, in the United States, no certification or specific training is required to practice enzyme therapy.  This form of therapy is used both by conventional and alternative practitioners.

Author: Bronwyn Bacon, ND Candidate '09

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