Most people are somewhat familiar with the fact that enzymes can help with digestive issues, but enzymes can do so much more!
Basically, enzymes are chemicals that our cells produce to speed up other chemical reactions. It's like if you need to go to the store to purchase groceries you could: 1. Get in your car, drive to the store, make your purchase and drive home. The whole process takes you, say, 30 minutes. Or, you could: 2. Walk to the store, make you purchase, and walk home. This time, it would take two hours. In this analogy, the car is like an enzyme. It doesn't necessarily change the chemical process, but it speeds it up to the point of being efficient.
Enzymes are also controlled by temperature; when you warm them, they work better. (Which is one reason the body increases body temperature when you catch a bug.) If you have an issue with regulating body temperature--as with hypothyroid, metabolic syndrome or low adrenal function--you will have a harder time utilizing your enzymes, which may cause body aches and fibromyalgia symptoms.
Digestive enzymes, when taken with a meal, work to digest or break down the food molecules in a timely manner so we can absorb the nutrients. They are conveniently named for what they breakdown with the letters "ase" at the end. So a protease breaks down proteins, a lipase breaks down lipids, and so on.
When taken on an empty stomach (at least 30 minutes before a meal or two hours after meals), proteolytic enzymes work to increase other reactions around the body. They can assist with inflammation, and with reducing aches and pains in muscles and joints. These enzymes have an enteric coating so they are not used by your digestive tract to digest food, but are absorbed systemically to accelerate the body's natural healing process. Here's how it works: The normal byproduct of muscle metabolism is lactic acid. Enzymes help to break down these acids, which reduces pain. If you have a strenuous workout, or just overwork your muscles and you know you will be sore the next day, mix the powder from 4-5 enzyme capsules in warm water and drink before you go to bed (on an empty stomach). It can help eliminate, or at least greatly reduce, your body pain over the next few days.
Enzymes can also accelerate the healing process when you're coming down with a cold or flu. In fact, one of my favorite treatments is to open 4-5 capsules of enzymes and mix the powder in a cup of hot water and drink it. If it would usually take three days for me to feel better, with the added "enzyme tea," the flu will be gone in one day. If I take it soon enough, it may prevent me from getting sick at all.
Dr. Susan Godman