Enzyme Rumors, Myths, Facts, and Truths
last updated 4.25.06
Taking Enzymes on an Empty Stomach
Rumor-mill cranks out: If you take digestive enzymes on an empty stomach, or take enzymes and then don't eat, or take too many protease enzymes, beware...they can digest your gut lining away.
Myth-buster: If digestive enzymes were going to digest healthy body tissue, you would already have digested away long ago - like, shortly after the first time you ate. Our own digestive enzymes would have already done that. The body has checks and balances for all the enzymes which run every aspect of our body. It has checks and balances for most other common body functioning as well. Remember that the gut is already swimming in digestive enzymes all the time anyway. We are supposed to have lots of enzymes in the gut from birth until death for proper health. It is the lack of sufficient enzymes that causes health problems.
Enzymes have very specific sites of activity and very specific functions. They have an affinity for denatured, dead, or damaged tissue. This makes certain enzymes very effective for cleaning out wounds and infections.
There are no recorded cases of digestive enzymes adversely affecting healthy tissue in any of vast array of clinical studies done with multitudes of people for a wide variety of illnesses or conditions.
Enzymes and Pancreas Function
Rumor-mill cranks out: If you take digestive enzyme supplements regularly, your pancreas will stop working and you will be dependent on enzyme supplements forever.
Myth-buster: This doesn't happen, nor has ever be found to happen even though there have been hundreds of thousands of patients on enzymes, sometimes for extended periods of time and high doses. The truth is that as soon as the enzyme supplements are stopped, the pancreas returns to its normal level of enzyme production and output. Taking supplemental enzymes may even give the pancreas a 'rest' and help it become more effecient and effective once enzyme supplementation stop.
There is another scenario by which enzyme supplements increase you body's own enzyme production, rather than decrease it. Some of our digestive enzymes are produced in the cells of the intestinal lining. When the gut becomes injured for any reason, these cells can become damaged and their enzyme function is lost. This means foods requiring these enzymes for thorough breakdown will not be digested as much as they should.
When digestive enzyme supplements are supplied, they can have a pro-active healing effect on gut tissue besides breaking down the foods themselves. As the gut lining heals with enzyme use, the cell grow again and enzyme function is once again operating in the gut. So, in essence, supplemental enzymes can promote our body's own enzyme function (restore it from a damaged state). When the supplemental enzymes are stopped, the gut is producing more enzymes that it was before.
Enzymes and Chelator Interaction
Rumor-mill cranks out: If you are trying to use a designator chelator to remove heavy metals from your body, don't take digestive enzymes because the enzymes may break the chelator-bound heavy metal bond and free up the heavy metal once again.
Myth-buster: This doesn't happen. Consider that idea were so, then our own pancreatic enzymes would be responsible for the same action, and chelators would never be effective.
The enzymes in digestive enzyme products break specific bonds in specific food (organic) substances. These are not the type of bonds found when chelators bind mercury or other heavy metals. The bonds chelators form are special sulfur bonds.
Actually, most people with experience doing chelation and enzymes say that the addition of digestive enzymes significantly improved the effectiveness of their chelation or detoxification program.
Enzymes Replacing a GFCF Diet
Rumor-mill cranks out: A few proponents of GFCF diets and businesses involved in GFCF diet (casein-free, gluten-free) products say that digestive enzymes cannot replace that particular diet.
Myth-buster: This statement is very broad the way it is and actually has more 'parts'. First, digestive enzymes are very specialized in what they do. Many enzyme products do not work on the proteins in dairy and grains known as casein and gluten. However, they are not designed to do that.
One product, Peptizyde by Houston Nutraceuticals, is designed to work on casein and gluten proteins and it has proven very effective in allowing most people to leave a GFCF diet if they want to. Currently, thousands of families are very successfully replacing a GFCF diet for as long as 4 years now. A fair number of people do much better off a GFCF diet with Peptizyde than even on the diet with enzymes. Exactly how well any individual responds will vary just like with any diet, medication, therapy, or other measure.
Another aspect is that some of the people or organizations claiming that enzymes do not replace GFCF sell enzyme products themselves. So they are referring to the enzyme products they sell or distribute, and not every enzyme product in the world. They make a general claim so the potential buyer will be under the impression the statement applies to all enzyme products, and thus may be less likely to purchase a more effective enzyme product elsewhere.
At times the statement is said by someone talking about their own particular situation: they personally tried an enzyme product of some kind and still needed to be GFCF. This may be a truthful recounting of his or her own single experience, but it does not mean it is true for every product and every person (that it is never possible for any enzyme product anywhere to ever replace GFCF). There is a wealth of experience and testimonies to the contrary.