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  • Yuzo Endo, M.D., Ph.D.
  • Masahito Hitosugi, M.D., Ph.D.
  • John E. Lewis, Ph.D.
  • Dan Kenner, Ph.D., L.Ac.

Doctor’s Health Advice

Doctor’s Health Advice

The Importance of Enzymes


Healing Enzymes

Enzymes are catalysts that speed up many biochemical reactions in the body. Without enzymes, most reactions in the body would be so slow that life would be impossible. Enzymes accelerate the rate of such reactions well over a million-fold, so reactions that would take years in their absence can occur in fractions of seconds if catalyzed by the appropriate enzyme. Research has shown that natural enzyme production starts to diminish at the age of 20. Studies indicate that the body’s capacity to produce enzymes diminishes by 13% every 10 years. This means that at the age of 40 our enzyme production is 25% less than when we were a child. At the age of 70, the body seems to only produce one third of the enzymes it needs!

Proteolytic enzymes are enzymes that break down proteins. They are very important and powerful supplements because they reduce inflammation, prevent blood clots, prevent the formation of scar tissue and can initiate breakdown of tumors. They also have an antiviral effect. The pain from acute injuries and even from chronic conditions like arthritis is from inflammation resulting from the immune system trying to break down dead tissue. The immune system uses proteolytic enzymes from the pancreas for this purpose. Adding extra enzymes from food sources accelerates this process; extra enzymes help the process of inflammation do what it is supposed to do. Enzymes break down and remove the barrier to circulation caused by swelling and the dead tissue from an injury.

Most proteolytic enzyme combinations contain bromelain, from pineapple and noni, and papain, from papaya. Pancreatin comes from sheep or pork pancreas and nattokinase comes from cultured soybeans. The enzymes come in tablets and the dose depends on the size of the inflamed area.

Proteolytic enzymes have been used clinically to treat inflammation, for tumor reduction and also as a preventive for thrombotic disease. Formation of blood clots is the cause of heart attacks (myocardial infarction) and strokes. Inflammation of arteries may cause swelling and be the cause of or contribute to elevation of blood pressure. They are used more commonly by doctors in Germany, Austria and the Netherlands where there is a substantial literature on their use. Doctors in Europe use the enzymes instead of aspirin to prevent blood clots. Proteolytic enzymes do not thin the blood but they will break down any fibrin, the blood protein that binds up blood clots, as soon as it appears. In other words, they don’t thin the blood but they prevent it from thickening.

A large dose taken just after surgery for a couple of days reduces swelling, speeds up healing and prevents adhesion and scar tissue formation. People who have had cancer surgery should be strongly advised to take large doses of proteolytic enzymes immediately after surgery to help prevent metastasis, the spread of cancer cells, which is promoted by the inflammation process.

Nearly 100 studies have been conducted that demonstrate how effectively these little-known enzymes eliminate joint pain… Here are just two examples:

In 1972, Dr. Max Wolff discovered exactly why as we age, our bodies – especially our joints, become chronically inflamed bringing on crippling arthritis.

A double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of 80 people about to undergo knee surgery found that treatment with these enzymes after surgery significantly improved rate of recovery, as measured by improved mobility and reduced swelling.

Another double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of 30 people with chronic neck pain found that supplementation with these enzymes significantly reduced pain symptoms as compared to placebo.

The embryologist Dr. John Beard proposed in 1906 that pancreatic proteolytic digestive enzymes represent the body’s main defense against cancer, and that enzyme therapy would be useful as a treatment for all types of cancer. Particularly during the first two decades of the twentieth century, Dr. Beard’s thesis attracted some attention in academic circles, and several case reports in the medical literature documented tumor regression and even remission in terminal cancer patients treated with proteolytic enzymes. In 1911, Dr. Beard published a monograph entitled “The Enzyme Therapy of Cancer and Its Scientific Basis”, which summarized his therapy and the supporting evidence. 

Japanese researchers demonstrated that the enzyme nattokinase is effective for treating deep vein thrombosis. Proteolytic enzymes like nattokinase can be used to prevent thrombotic diseases such as heart attacks and strokes.

The Wobemugos Company of Germany, the developer of enzyme products in the 1930s, has done decades of research. In the 1960s they found that their product was effective for relieving herpes zoster (shingles). A research study comparing enzymes with Zovirax was carried out in 1990 and found the enzymes to be equally effective. Of course they are actually superior because there are no toxic effects from the enzymes compared to the pharmaceutical.

Proteolytic enzymes are effective in treating the main scourges of humanity: cancer, cardiovascular disease, pain and perhaps even viral infections. They should be considered more often in therapeutic protocols for chronic disease prevention and treatment.

Important Note!! If proteolytic enzymes are being used for inflammation, tumor reduction, or protection of the cardiovascular system, they should be taken an hour away from food. If you have had a heavy meal you may want to wait an hour and a half or more. There is no harm in taking them with food, but they will get used up digesting the protein in food and not be available for breaking down anything causing congestion in the peripheral tissues of the body.


Dan Kenner, Ph.D., L.Ac.

Dan Kenner, Ph.D., L.Ac.
Acupuncture and Integrative Medical College (AIMC Berkeley)

DAN KENNER, Ph.D., L.Ac graduated in 1979 from the Meiji College of Oriental Medicine in Japan, passed the Japanese National Licensing Examination and then trained in Internships at Osaka Medical University Pain Clinic and Kinki University Medical Teaching Hospital. He is licensed to practice Oriental Medicine both in the U.S. and in Japan. He also has a Ph.D. in Naturopathic Medical Science from the First National University of Naturopathic Medical Sciences. Dr. Kenner is on the Board of Directors of the Acupuncture and Integrative Medicine College in Berkeley, California and the National Health Federation. He is author of The Whole-Body Workbook for Cancer and other titles. Since 1983, he has endeavored to integrate the Naturopathic Medical Traditions of North America and Europe with the Traditional Medicine of East Asia.

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