Reduce inflammation with Enzymes – tools for the body’s labour force

The inflammatory process starts when the body is assaulted in some manner. This can be tissue damage due to injury, such as twisting an ankle or being cut, or invasion by a foreign assailant, such as bacteria, viruses or undigested food seeping from the digestive tract into the bloodstream.

In most cases, the body responds instantly with a full frontal attack. A host of chemical compounds known as inflammatory mediators regulate the entire process. These include histamine, prostaglandins, kinins, leukotrienes and a group of plasma proteins making up the complement system. Their function is to choreograph the vascular and cellular effects of inflammation.

Blood flow to the injured area increases, while blood flow away from it shuts down. Blood vessels become more permeable, fluid seeps into the tissues, and the capillaries become engorged. These events all result in the cardinal signs of inflammation: swelling, redness, pain and heat.

Acute inflammation is the initial response of the body to harmful stimuli and is achieved by the increased movement of plasma and leukocytes (especially granulocytes) from the blood into the injured tissues. A series of biochemical events propagates and matures the inflammatory response, involving the local vascular system, the immune system, and various cells within the injured tissue.

Prolonged or Chronic inflammation, leads to a progressive shift in the type of cells present at the site of inflammation, such as mononuclear cells, and is characterized by simultaneous destruction and healing of the tissue from the inflammatory process. Chronic inflammation may lead to a host of diseases, such as hay fever, periodontitis, atherosclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and even cancer (e.g., gallbladder carcinoma). Inflammation is therefore normally closely regulated by the body.



When faced with an acute injury, one of the most common applications for healing is the RICE protocol: rest, ice, compress and elevate. Unfortunately, this procedure does not necessarily take into account the body’s natural inflammatory mechanisms. The inflammatory response is designed to increase temperature in the injured area, ramping up the body’s natural enzyme activity. Proteolytic enzymes reduce inflammation by neutralizing the bio-chemicals of inflammation (bradykinins and pro-inflammatory eicosanoids). They support the production of various cytokines, activate large proteins, such as alpha-2-macroglobulins, and slow the clotting mechanism to levels where the synthesis, repair and regeneration of injured tissues can take place. They therefore help speed up recovery from sprains, strains, fractures, bruises, contusions, surgery and arthritis. Increased enzyme activity, in the presence of heat, enables the removal of injured tissue which is dead, damaged, or does not belong. Removal of such stressors allows the body to transition into recovery.

There are two types of enzymes in the body – Digestive and Metabolic. Digestive enzymes assist the breakdown of food in the stomach. The vast majority of metabolic enzymes in our body, the enzymes that regulate everything from liver function to the immune system, are proteases, or proteolytic enzymes. Proteolytic is a catchall phrase for hydrolytic enzymes that specifically facilitate the chemical breakdown of proteins by severing the bonds between the amino acids that make up those proteins. When we take a proteolytic enzyme formula between meals, the enzymes do not get wrapped up with our food and passed out through the colon. Instead, they quickly enter our bloodstream and are protected by a molecule called alpha II macroglobulin that transports the enzyme to areas the body has signalled they are needed. When released the enzymes are activated and able to assist with adaptive healing.


According to a published study, there is strong evidence that systemic enzyme therapy can improve the composition of blood and the properties of vessel walls, as well as both prevent and dissolve dangerous blood clots and the consequences of venous insufficiency. The study went on to say that the key feature of enzymotherapy appears to be its immunomodulatory activity and rebalancing pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokines, adhesion molecules and inflammatory cascades. Supplemental, proteolytic enzymes can shift our immune system away from an automatic, reactive response to a more measured, moderated response, calm down systemic inflammatory cascades, and significantly reduce levels of circulating immune complexes.

100 athletes in a placebo controlled, double blind, randomized study were divided into two groups: all conditions standardized.

  • Hematomas were created in all athletes
  • 50 given oral proteolytic enzymes: 50 given placebo.
  • Those with enzymes had significantly less pain, less inflammation, shorter time for hematoma to disappear (p<.01).

Kleine, M.W. Vogler, W “The effects of an oral enzyme treatment on experimentally induced hematomas” Forum Gen. Pract. 2:27 (1968).
Evidence of the efficacy of an enzyme combination preparation using the method of artificial hematomas in combination with a pressure meter: A placebo controlled, randomized, prospective, double blind study. Kleine M.W. Allergist / Phlebotomist / Sports Medicine, Egenhofenstrasse 18, D-82152 Planegg, Germany.
Journal of Clinical Research 1998, Vol.1, pp. 87-102

Summary of several double blind studies on oral enzymes vs. an NSAID

  • Studies involved over 400 people with osteoarthritis.
  • The studies showed oral enzymes were as good as, if not better, than the NSAIDS, with fewer side effects.

Clinical Rheumatology Volume 23, Number 5, 410-415, DOI: 10.1007/s10067-004-0902-y Oral enzyme combination versus diclofenac in the treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee – a double-blind prospective randomized study Naseer M. Akhtar, Rizwan Naseer, Abid Z. Farooqi, Wajahat Aziz and Mussadeq Nazir
Efficacy and tolerance of an oral enzyme combination in painful osteoarthritis of the hip. A double-blind, randomised study comparing oral enzymes with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
Klein G, Kullich W, Schnitker J, Schwann H. : Clin Exp heumatol. 2006 Jan-Feb;24(1):25-30. Rehabilitation Centre for Cardiovascular and Rheumatic Diseases, Germany.