Systemic and proteolytic enzymes deserve a lot more attention for their impact on your health. They really are the rock stars! Their job is different from digestive enzymes which break down food and aid absorption into the blood stream. Proteolytic enzymes drive the metabolic reactions that keep your body – or system – clear of the waste, proteins and microbes that would make you sick.
Here are 7 big benefits associated with systemic, also called proteolytic enzymes.
Ease Joint Pain
Inflammation causes joint pain. Proteolytic enzymes improve the body’s ability to control inflammation by improving circulation, breaking down waste, and speeding immune response and recovery. These three elements are vital for joint health.
Joints simply do not get as much blood flow as other soft tissue in the body. This means getting good blood flow to the area is needed to deliver oxygen and other nutrients needed and to remove waste. Fibrin build-up from even normal wear and tear introduces blockages into the small blood vessels that feed the area. Large protein molecules get trapped and form clots, which create inflammation.
Proteolytic enzymes reduce joint aches and pains by supporting the break down of fibrin, protein build-ups, and waste while aiding the immune system as it repairs the area. This speeds their movement through the blood and lymphatic systems, speeding recovery. Early research in animals observed that protease enzymes worked as well as ibuprofen in reducing inflammation. The protease also protected cartilage by stabilizing immune response so that it didn’t attack the cartilage, a common factor in arthritis and ankylosis.[i]
A 2015 study published in Arthritis reported enzymes worked as well as NSAIDs in adults with moderate-to-severe osteoarthritis in the knee. One hundred fifty adults took either enzymes, the NSAID, or placebo for 12 weeks. If needed, study participants were allowed to take acetaminophen for additional pain relief. Over the 12 weeks, the placebo group and the NSAID group resorted to additional pain relief about equally, while the enzyme group did less frequently. Plus, the enzyme group experienced fewer side effects.[ii]
Joint pain relief may be only one benefit of the inflammation reducing abilities of proteolytic enzymes too! Many who use these enzymes also report reduced pain from other injuries that involve swelling including bee stings!
Improve Blood Flow and the Health of Blood Vessels
The presence of plasma proteins and excess fibrin wreak havoc on blood flow and vascular health. Blood clots may develop creating inflammation and damage in the arteries, veins and capillaries where they get lodged. Even if clotting doesn’t occur, the blood can get thick and congested with proteins, fibrin and waste sticking to artery walls and encourage the development of conditions like atherosclerosis.
The body uses protease enzymes to keep the blood clean. This is why they’re often referred to as systemic enzymes. Researchers have noted the increased presence of proteases at the sites of plaque build-up in arteries in animal models.[iii] You can think of them as the body’s clean-up crew. In addition to removing fibrin and arterial plaque, proteolytic enzymes also clear the blood of –
- Oxidized LDL cholesterol
- Glycated proteins, or proteins like hemoglobin transformed by blood sugar into toxic molecules
- Infectious germs like viruses and bacteria that secrete proteins that harm the vascular system
- Damaged tissue caused by environmental pollutants
Support a Strong, Healthy Heart
Blood that flows smoothly through arteries and veins puts less stress on the heart. It doesn’t have to push as hard to pump the blood. Good blood flow also helps keep the arteries and veins healthy and flexible. All of this has a positive effect on blood pressure.
And according to researchers, it also has a positive effect on the heart itself. A study published in Life Sciences reported on the effect of protease therapy on the hearts of animal subjects. At the end of 4 months, the researchers found[iv]:
- Improved aortic function
- Reductions in heart valve thickening
- Generally improved overall measures of all heart function
Aid and Regulate the Immune System
Proteolytic enzymes to break down the proteins of germs, bacteria and viruses to defeat and remove them from the body. They also break down allergens. Researchers have also observed that they disable and remove malfunctioning cells which may prompt tumor growth.[v]
Another way they help is by addressing immune triggers in the modern diet. Large protein molecules from wheat, dairy, and soy only get partially digested before entering the blood. There, antibodies from the immune system attack them and form large molecules called CICs or circulating immune complexes.
When the system’s in balance, they get broken down and then eliminated via the kidneys. If too many enter the body, the system can get overwhelmed causing them to get moved into soft tissue. Though this removes them from the blood, it doesn’t stop the immune response. The body continues to attack them, leading to chronic inflammation.[vi]
By speeding the breakdown and removal of these dangerous immune triggers, proteolytic enzymes keep the system in balance.
Faster Recovery Time
Athletes and anyone who exercises also benefit from proteolytic enzymes! Intense or long-duration exercise stimulates the immune system and prompts swelling after the workout. Proteolytic enzymes speed recovery by supplying with the catalysts it needs to complete the “repairs.” One study that looked at their effect on athletes found those who took these enzymes recovered much faster![vii]
Keep Airways Clear
Inflammation of the airways is a problem in many respiratory conditions. Researchers have observed direct relationships between protease enzyme levels and immune response with higher levels of proteases helping the body better manage inflammation. [viii]
You might never see the cleansing activity of proteolytic enzymes. But you will feel it in the form of more energy. There are several reasons for this:
- Nutrients and oxygen flow where their needed and waste gets removed more efficiently.
- Well-fueled cells produce more energy.
- An active immune system uses a lot of energy. By removing immune triggers and regulating immune response, you have more energy.
- Enzymes are big molecules that require a lot of energy to make. When you have enough proteolytic enzymes, you don’t spend as much energy building more.
Feeling greater energy and recovering faster are the two most easy to recognize benefits of proteolytic enzymes. It’s why so many people who can’t find answers have turned to them. It’s also why enzymes have become so popular so quickly. They fuel every chemical reaction and truly are the spark of life!
[i] Chintalacharuvu SR1, et al. Treatment of collagen induced arthritis by proteolytic enzymes: immunomodulatory and disease modifying effects. J Rheumatol. 2001 Sep;28(9):2049-59.
[ii] Wolfgang W. Bolten, Michael J. Glade, Sonja Raum, and Barry W. Ritz, “The Safety and Efficacy of an Enzyme Combination in Managing Knee Osteoarthritis Pain in Adults: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial,” Arthritis, vol. 2015, Article ID 251521, 7 pages, 2015. https://doi.org/10.1155/2015/251521.
[iii] Kim DE1, et al. Molecular imaging of cathepsin B proteolytic enzyme activity reflects the inflammatory component of atherosclerotic pathology and can quantitatively demonstrate the antiatherosclerotic therapeutic effects of atorvastatin and glucosamine. Mol Imaging. 2009 Sep-Oct;8(5):291-301.
[iv] Gonzalez EA1, et al. Cathepsin B inhibition attenuates cardiovascular pathology in mucopolysaccharidosis I mice. Life Sci. 2018 Mar 1;196:102-109. doi: 10.1016/j.lfs.2018.01.020. Epub 2018 Jan 31.
[v] Beuth J1. Proteolytic enzyme therapy in evidence-based complementary oncology: fact or fiction? Integr Cancer Ther. 2008 Dec;7(4):311-6. doi: 10.1177/1534735408327251.
[vi] Arazi A1, Neumann AU. Modeling immune complex-mediated autoimmune inflammation. J Theor Biol. 2010 Dec 7;267(3):426-36. doi: 10.1016/j.jtbi.2010.08.033. Epub 2010 Sep 9.
[vii] Marzin T1, et al. Effects of a systemic enzyme therapy in healthy active adults after exhaustive eccentric exercise: a randomised, two-stage, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial. BMJ Open Sport Exerc Med. 2017 Mar 12;2(1):e000191. doi: 10.1136/bmjsem-2016-000191. eCollection 2016.
[viii] Simpson JL1, et al. Differential proteolytic enzyme activity in eosinophilic and neutrophilic asthma. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2005 Sep 1;172(5):559-65. Epub 2005 May 18.