There are a wide variety of enzymes working in your body all the time to help maintain overall balance. This article talks about digestive enzymes and how they can be helpful in the reduction of chronic pain. So, if you live with any type of chronic pain condition, this information could be helpful.
What Exactly Are “Enzymes”?
Enzymes are macromolecular biological catalysts that accelerate chemical reactions. Almost all metabolic processes require enzymes in order to work fast enough for cells to sustain life. There are two kinds of enzymes: Systematic and digestive enzymes. The systematic enzymes maintain the overall wellness of the body, while digestive enzymes play a part in maintaining and balancing healthy digestion.
What Are Digestive Enzymes?
Since our bodies are unable to take nourishment directly from the food we eat, digestive enzymes work to break down the food into its constitutional form so that nutrients can be absorbed into your bloodstream, where they are then supplied to your whole body.
Our bodies are naturally equipped with digestive enzymes. However, a chronic gastrointestinal or autoimmune condition can greatly reduce these enzymes, causing nutritional deficiencies.
This is when over-the-counter digestive enzymes can come in handy to improve your health and reduce your chronic pain.
Most over-the-counter digestive enzymes are designed to break down cellulose (fiber), protease (protein), amylase (carbohydrates), and lipase (fats). When these substances are broken down properly, their nutrients are more easily absorbed by your body.
How Can Digestive Enzymes Reduce Chronic Pain?
Initially, digestive enzymes were considered to be great for the improvement of the digestive system. However, research has shown that these enzymes can also be instrumental in the relief of chronic pain and inflammation.
Chronic pain and inflammation signal your immune system to fight its own healthy tissues as though they are foreign invaders like viruses, bacteria, or parasites.
Over time, this constant attack on your healthy tissues can cause chronic muscle and joint pain, anxiety, brain fog, migraines, gastrointestinal malfunction, metabolic disease, and more.
Moreover, those with autoimmune disorders often struggle with nutritional deficiencies, not only because of a lack of natural digestive enzymes but also due to chronic inflammation. Common nutrient deficiencies include vitamin D, vitamin B, and magnesium.
Reduced ability to uptake these nutrients can be another contributing factor to chronic fatigue and pain. Chronic inflammation is a cycle that, once started, can be very difficult to stop.
The autoimmune disease causes inflammation, the inflammation interferes with proper digestion, nutritional deficiencies develop, which interferes with the body’s ability to heal, which causes worsening of symptoms, and on and on.
Digestive enzymes can help reduce chronic pain by improving your body’s ability to absorb nutrients from food, thereby giving your body the nutritional strength it needs to reduce inflammation on its own.
The Research Behind Digestive Enzyme Therapy for Pain
Bromelain Helps Reduce Osteoarthritis Pain
Bromelain, an extract from the pineapple plant that is often found in over-the-counter digestive enzymes, has shown anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties and may provide a safer alternative or adjunctive treatment for osteoarthritis.
Trypsin and Chymotrypsin May Improve Low Back Pain
In one double-blind clinical trial, the intake of enzymes, trypsin and chymotrypsin reported small, though statistically significant improvements, for some measures in people with degenerative arthritis of the lower spine.
Digestive Enzymes Appear to Relieve Pancreatic Insufficiency
A common treatment of pancreatic insufficiency is digestive enzymes made from pig pancreas or fungi. These enzymes have been shown to reduce the pain and steatorrhea (excess fat in the stool) associated with pancreatitis.
Athletic Injuries Respond Positively to Enzyme Therapy
Proteolytic (protein-digesting) enzymes, including bromelain, have been shown to be helpful in healing sprains and strains due to their anti-inflammatory properties and their apparent ability to promote tissue healing.
Digestive enzymes can be helpful in the natural treatment of chronic pain and inflammation. However, it is important to remember to talk with your doctor before trying digestive enzymes if you are currently taking medication, pregnant or nursing, or being treated for a serious disease.