Enzyme therapy is a plan of dietary supplements of plant and animal enzymes used to facilitate the digestive process and improve the body's ability to maintain balanced metabolism.
Enzyme supplements are prescribed for patients suffering from medical disorders that affect the digestive process. It is not usually for healthy people. However, practitioners who argue in the favor of enzyme therapy believe that enzyme therapy benefits everyone. According to them, it is able to purify the blood, strengthen the immune system, enhance mental capacity, cleanse the colon, and maintain proper pH balance in the urine. They feel that by improving the digestive process, the body is better able to combat infection and disease.
Illnesses that are treated with enzyme therapy include: anemia, alcoholism, anxiety, acute inflammation, back pain, cancer, colds, chronic fatigue syndrome, colitis, constipation, diarrhea, food allergies, gastritis, gout, hepatitis, hypoglycemia, infections, mucous congestion, nervous disorders, obesity, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), and stress.
There are seven categories of food enzymes. These are listed below, along with their activities:
- Amylase breaks down starch.
- Cellulase breaks down fibers.
- Lactase breaks down dairy products.
- Lipase breaks down fats.
- Maltase breaks down grains.
- Protease breaks down proteins.
- Sucrase breaks down sugars.
We live in the age where most of the food we consume is processed, cooked, pasteurized, canned, and microwaved. Enzymes are extremely sensitive to heat, and are destroyed at temperatures above 118°F (48°C). These processes leave our nutrition lacking in essential enzymes. This lack of essential enzymes is responsible for the improper digestion of food and absorption of nutrients.
Enzyme supplements are extracted from plants like pineapple and papaya and from the organs of cows and pigs. The supplements are typically given in a tablet or capsule form. The dosage varies with the condition being treated.
Although enzyme therapy has temporary side effects, these are considered a part of the cleansing process. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, heartburn, bloating, gas, diarrhea, acne, and an increase in bowel movements. To reduce these symptoms, it is advised to drink eight to ten glasses of water a day and get regular exercise. People with allergies to beef, pork, pineapples, and papaya may suffer allergic reactions and should therefore be careful.
Although plant enzymes are safe for pregnant women it is always advisable to check with a doctor in advance. Further, animal enzymes should be avoided. While taking enzyme tablets, precaution should be taken that patients should not chew/crush the tablets as this might damage the enzyme due to the presence of acids in the stomach.
In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has classified enzymes as a food. So the good news is that you do not need a prescription to purchase them. However, insurance companies will require you to have a doctor’s prescription before they cover the cost of the therapy. And the costs of therapy can vary depending upon the ailment that is being treated.
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