June 25, 2004
Digestive Enzymes: The Side Effect-Free
Approach to Pain Relief
You’ve probably noticed that the older you get,
the more aches and pains you have. Whether it’s acute, chronic,
or occasional back pain, muscle stiffness, aching joints, headaches,
indigestion, sore feet, restless legs, or pelvic/abdominal cramping
from a litany of female problems, the common thread
running through all these maladies is that they can make your life
If you had no other responsibilities and could
lie back with a heating pad and a video, that would be one thing.
But when you’ve got to function, when you’ve got responsibilities
to meet and schedules to maintain no matter what, a nagging pain
can move from the background to the forefront, becoming increasingly
difficult to ignore. Over time, it can suck the life right out of
Yes, there are painkilling medicines available.
But those medications have significant side effects and can damage
not only your digestive tract but also your kidneys and liver, especially
if you have to take them for more than a day or two. Second, they
work by suppressing chemicals in your body known as prostaglandins,
which are like a chemical family with two children that are always
fighting with each other one is bad (causes inflammation),
and the other is good (actually blocks it).
The anti-prostaglandin drugs mentioned above, which
are the economic mainstay of the pharmaceutical industry, suppress
both the good as well as the bad prostaglandins. So on top
of getting some relief, you also make your situation somewhat worse.
Two steps forward, one back.
There are natural, gentle, and safe ways to alleviate
pain. Digestive enzymes are a natural, side effect-free alternative.
Though usually prescribed as digestive aids (taken
with food), the following enzymes have powerful anti-inflammatory
effects when taken on an empty stomach.
Standard dose: 500 mg standardized, 24
times daily, taken with bioflavonoids (5001000 mg, 3 times
daily) and vitamin C (1000 mg, 2 or 3 times daily), which enhance
bromelain’s actions. (Do not take bromelain with metallic compounds
such as copper and iron, which inactivate it.)
Comments: Bromelain is better than
anti-inflammatory drugs for several reasons. In addition to producing
none of their side effects, it reduces inflammation by attacking
it from more than one angle, making it effective for a wider range
of painful problems. What’s more, it blocks only the bad (pro-inflammatory)
prostaglandins, while leaving the good ones alone the ones
that are naturally anti-inflammatory. So, you’re working with
your body’s innate anti-pain mechanisms, instead of against them.
Bromelain also dissolves clots of fibrin the body
deposits in the blood and lymph vessels surrounding a wound. The
body’s intention is to quarantine the area, so inflammation, bacteria,
and toxins don’t spread. But in reality, it deprives the damaged
tissue of nutrition by blocking blood in-flow, and increases inflammation
(swelling, pressure, heat, redness, and pain) by blocking blood
and lymph out-flow. By digesting those clots, bromelain helps reduce
the inflammation, and improves circulation.
It also stimulates the body to produce enzymes
of its own, which helps dissolve and clean up dead tissue and debris
from the site. This accelerates the healing process. Another area
where bromelain really shines is in its ability to reduce pain,
inflammation, and healing time after oral surgery, particularly
when tooth extractions have left lots of torn tissue, open wounds,
and throbbing nerve endings.
Bromelain (and the other digestive enzymes mentioned
below) also help prevent, abbreviate, and/or enhance the degree
of recovery from, painful and disabling repetitive-stress injuries
such as carpal tunnel syndrome. Not only do they reduce pain, they
also can be instrumental in returning the injured body part to full
functionone aspect of treating repetitive stress injuries
that often is overlooked.
Source: The unripe papaya fruit
Standard dose: 200300 mg standardized,
4 times daily, between meals. Comments: The anti-inflammatory benefits
of papain have been demonstrated in numerous studies of sports injuries,
where it not only relieved pain but also quickened the healing process.
Its mode of action is similar to that of bromelain. And, like bromelain,
it helps restore comfort and speed healing after impacted wisdom
tooth extractions, root canals, and other minor surgeries. In one
study, it was as effective as prednisone (a powerful, prescription-only
corticosteroid medication with a long list of health risks) in reducing
pain and muscle spasms after oral surgery.
Source: Animal pancreas
Standard dose: 3001000 mg standardized,
4 times daily, on an empty stomach
Comments: In addition to helping the body
recover from external injuries via a similar mechanism as the plant-based
enzymes above, pancreatic digestive enzymes are even more effective
when there’s been internal tissue damage due to bacterial, viral,
and fungal infections, toxins, and allergic reactions.
Read More on Joint Health:
to Pain Relief