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Digestive Enzymes [Healing Digestion Part 5]

For previous posts in this series, follow these links:

Healing Digestion: Part 1 – Restoring the Mucous Layer
Healing Digestion: Part 2 – Digestive Tonics
The Dangers of Acid Blockers: How to Heal Heartburn Naturally {Healing Digestion: Part 3}
3 Essential Facts about Probiotics [Healing Digestion: Part 4]

Enzymes are often the last piece of the puzzle for digestive issues. I became a convert when they stopped my daughter’s chronic tummyaches within 2 days of adding them to our protocol.

For her, it has been the biggest piece of the puzzle and that’s often the case for children.

Enzymes are catalysts within the body that create biochemical reactions.

In other words, they are essential for making everything in our body happen – including digestion.

A Recap of Digestion

When digestion is compromised, our bodies are often not triggered to produce the necessary enzymes to break down food into a usable form.

As we’ve discussed earlier in the series, digestion is a north to south process:

1.  If we are stressed, our bodies will not go into the relaxed state (parasympathetic mode) required for digestion to happen.

2.  When food is only partially chewed, amylase (digestive enzyme that breaks down carbs) and saliva are not released and the food is swallowed as chunks instead of the required ‘applesauce’ texture. (Part 1)

Digestive Enzymes [Healing Digestion Part 5]


3.  Hydrochloric acid and pepsin (enzyme that breaks down protein) needs to be released in sufficient quantity to acidify the stomach and initiate the main chemical breakdown before the food is released into the small intestine. (Parts 2 and 3)

4.  And finally, that acidity triggers the small intestine to accept the ‘soupy’ contents from the stomach and release bile from the gall bladder and pancreatic enzymes to break down the nutrients into a form necessary to be of use to the body.

Digestive Enzymes

With all the stress and misfiring our bodies do these days, it’s no wonder that enzymes aren’t released when they’re supposed to and in the correct quantities when they are.

Eating a diet poor in raw and fermented foods (rich in enzymes) compounds the issue.

Since every body process requires enzymatic action, enzymes can be a critical element to healing.

There are 2 types of digestive enzyme supplements available – pancreatic enzymes and a combination of individual enzymes. I work with both in my practice, and bioindividuality determines which one is right for you.

Digestive Enzymes [Healing Digestion Part 5]

Fructose Intolerance

If you are dealing with fructose intolerance and not responding to enzyme therapy when eating foods high in fructose, you are likely dealing with a liver deficiency. I will have a complete post on fructose intolerance in the near future.

Enzymes are only a part of the healing journey. There is no one cause and one cure for everyone’s ills.

Dosage and Timing

Enzymes are sensitive to heat and the acidic environment of the stomach, so it’s not recommended to take them in the middle of eating.

Take them either with the beginning of a meal or at the end. At the beginning of the meal, they will begin breaking down the food in the stomach before HCl is released. Taken at the end of a meal, they are more likely to be released into the small intestine where the majority of enzymes so their work.

I suggest trying both ways to see what you respond best to. My daughter requires them at the beginning of her meal, and I can take them either before or after with no ill effects. My clients also vary depending on their needs.

I use a porcine-based pancreatic enzyme for my clients that can only be purchased through a practitioner.

My favorite broad spectrum enzyme formula is available at health foods stores and online (buy it here). It is hypo-allergenic and designed for children with autism, so it’s perfect for little ones and everyone dealing with food allergies and intolerances.

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List of Some Common Digestive Enzymes

Most enzymes are easily identified by the -ase suffix.

Amylase breaks down starches

Pepsin breaks down proteins into peptides

Lipase breaks down fats

Cellulase breaks down plant fiber (cellulose)

Lactase breaks down milk sugars (lactose)

Further Reading


The Enzyme Cure: How Plant Enzymes Can Help You Relieve 36 Health Problems by Lita Lee, PhD