Do you know that digestive enzymes are essential to the survival of living beings? But how essential, is essential?!

Enzymes are protein found within a cell. They play a key role in metabolic reactions. They are known as biological catalysts due to their ability to promote reactions more quickly and more efficiently – it speeds up the rate of a chemical reaction to help support life.

A Tennessee-based board-certified family physician and the author of Lies My Doctor Told Me, Mr. Ken Berry, MD., revealed the most important enzymes in the body includes proteases (which break down proteins), lipases (fats), and amylases (starches and sugars). Various industries are remarkably very interested in digestive enzymes. Many have started to generate products from digestive enzymes, for a wide range of applications.

To produce larger quantities of such enzymes, industries modified the microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi and actinomycetes, genetically. The bacterial genera such as Bacillus, Clostridium and Pseudomonas; the fungi Aspergillus, Trichoderma and Penicillium; and the actinomycetes Streptomyces and Cellulomonas are used for this purpose and many of these are known for their biotechnological potential.

By the same token, specific enzymes like protease, lipase and amylase – as the most important enzymes, have been industries’ priorities and its productions are done by the use of fungal strains of Aspergillus, Rhizopus and Penicilium.



Enzymes are crucial for good health. Your body produces them. However, the problems with your pancreas, such as pancreatitis, cystic fibrosis, or pancreatic cancer, can reduce the number of important enzymes your body produces. As a result, you may not get enough enzymes to thoroughly digest your food and obtain all the nutritional value from what you eat.

Fruits and vegetables can also be a good source of enzymes. Fortunately, enzymes are now available in supplements  and can give a positive impact on your health. Digestive enzymes are inexpensive, readily available and have an excellent safety profile.

The underlying premise for taking a digestive enzyme supplement is the capacity for better nutrient absorption through enhanced digestion. Enhanced digestion doesn’t mean Enzymes affect gut motility. What it affects is the size of the stools and this may be what most are actually seeing. Digestive Enzymes, at some dose, will break down foods more thoroughly such that more of the food is absorbed into the body and not passed out as feces.



The following are scientific studies on the use of digestive enzymes and its positive effects to several syndromes such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Cancer, Arthritis, Muscle Soreness and even Autism.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

A digestive enzyme known as pancrelipase may alleviate some symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS),

according to a pilot study published in Frontline Gastroenterology in 2011. For the study, 69 patients with irritable bowel syndrome were given either pancrelipase or a placebo before consuming foods known to trigger their symptoms. Study results showed that those treated with pancrelipase experienced a significantly greater improvement in such symptoms as cramping, bloating, and pain.

Another study involved a multi-ingredient formulation called Biointol. This supplement contains digestive enzymes along with beta-glucan and inositol. In this small study, 50 IBS patients received the supplement. Their symptoms were compared with a 40 IBS patient no-therapy control group. The results indicated that the supplement reduced abdominal pain, bloating and flatulence.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Several preliminary studies suggest that bromelain may help manage colitis,  a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). For example, a 2010 study published in Inflammatory Bowel Diseases found that bromelain helped decrease inflammation of the colon in mice with colitis.

Digestive enzymes may also be helpful in people with IBD who experience symptoms of IBS, such as abdominal pain and diarrhea, despite little or no active inflammation. This new disorder is called IBD-IBS syndrome. A study published in 2017 involved patients who received the anti-inflammatory drug mesalamine, a standard treatment for IBD, plus Biointol, the same multi-ingredient formulation mentioned above, or just treatment with mesalamine. Those who received both mesalamine and Biointol reported a reduction in abdominal pain and a reduction in bloating and flatulence after four weeks, while those who took just mesalamine reported only a mild reduction in the urgency to evacuate.


Digestive enzymes have been reported to be beneficial to people undergoing cancer treatment versus affecting the disease process itself, for instance by decreasing complications of therapy. But according to a 2014 article in Mayo Clinic Proceedings, these studies either weren’t statistically analyzed or did not show significant or consistent improvement with OTC enzymes. For example, a retrospective study reported that complementary treatment with OTC enzymes improved quality of life for patients with colorectal cancer by reducing signs and symptoms of the disease and reducing adverse reactions associated with adjuvant therapies.



Some, but not all, studies on bromelain show it may help relieve pain related to osteoarthritis (OA), likely due to its ability to reduce inflammation. In a research review published in Arthritis Research & Therapy in 2006 that looked at nine clinical trials testing bromelain’s effects on patients with OA, the review’s authors found some evidence that bromelain may offer pain-reducing effects similar to those of diclofenac, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) often prescribed for OA.

More recently, a 2015 randomized double-blind prospective study compared a commercial enzyme preparation containing bromelain, trypsin, and rutin with the NSAID diclofenac in the treatment of 150 patients with moderate-to-severe OA of the knee joint. The commercial preparation, called Wobenzym, produced significant improvements in joint pain and function after 12 weeks compared with the NSAID, including significant improvements in the ability to walk for a distance and affected knee joint flexibility. Studies with another commercial enzyme preparation containing the same ingredients, Phlogenzym, have shown similar results. The upshot: Enzymes may have a clinical role in improving symptoms of OA, but larger studies are needed to confirm these effects.

Muscle Soreness

The evidence regarding the effectiveness of OTC enzymes in improving muscle soreness is mixed, and many studies are small and dated. In one study from 2004 that involved 20 men, protease supplements facilitated muscle healing and lessened perceived increases in pain after intense exercise, while in another study from 1965 they reduced pain and swelling associated with injuries and sped the healing process. However, a double-blind randomized controlled trial of 39 people from 2002 showed no difference between bromelain, Ibuprofen, or placebo in treating post-exercise muscle soreness. A double-blind study of 50 people with soft-tissue (muscle, tendon, or ligament) ankle injuries published in 1975 showed no significant difference in swelling, bruising, and function in the group given proteolytic enzymes. More recently, a study involving 20 men from 2016 found that, compared to placebo, taking a branded enzyme blend, DigeZyme, significantly reduced pain and tenderness after a treadmill running test.


In one double-blind, placebo-controlled study published in 2015, children that received digestive enzyme therapy for three months had significant improvement in emotional response, general behavior, and gastrointestinal symptoms (quality of stools, abdominal pain, vomiting, and food variety) compared to children in the control group.




The Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research TNO (TNO Nutrition and Food Research) based in Zeist, Netherlands, conducted study on the effects of fungal digestive enzymes to human with impaired versus healthy digestive conditions. This research is the first comprehensive study that shows that NEC fungal digestive enzymes substantially increase the level of digestion in the lumen of the small intestine and bioaccessibility of proteins and carbohydrates. The research results not only validate the use of digestive enzymes in cases of impaired digestion but also show that most healthy adults can benefit by using a digestive enzyme supplement.

Furthermore, the test meal fed to the TIM system was an FDA recommended meal, which is smaller in macronutrient content and total calories than the typical American diet. The conservative amount of food used in the experiments, and the corresponding results obtained, further testify to the use of fungal digestive enzyme supplements. The research has demonstrated that NEC fungal enzymes not only survive the acidity of the stomach, but also are active in that harsh environment where most other types of enzymes are inactivated.



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