What are enzymes?

Enzymes are complex organic substances produced in living cells and capable of causing certain chemical changes in other biological materials by acting as catalysts.  They are proteins that help us digest our food, building our bodies and removing toxins.

Usually when talk about enzymes we think about digestive enzymes.  However, without enzymes, the human body will not be able to function.  They are in the blood stream, kidney, liver, pancreas, spleen.  They break down toxic material, and the body eliminates it without damaging the eliminative organs.  The utilization of vitamins depends upon the presence of enzymes, and enzyme activation depends on the presence of vitamins.  Enzymes are involved in every process within the body.  Life cannot exist without them.

The word enzyme comes from a Greek word meaning ‘in yeast’.  It was originally used because the first observations were of something in yeast that caused the fermentation of glucose to produce alcohol.  An enzyme is usually named for the substance on which it acts (its substrate) with the addition to the suffix -ase.  For example, an enzyme that splits a protein may be called by the general name of proteinase.  Enzymes are specific in their action; they will act only on a certain substance and no other.  Some enzymes require co-enzymes to make them active.  That is important to know when we choose to follow an enzyme therapy program.

How do enzymes work

The substance on which a particular enzyme works is called a substrate.  A specific enzyme usually will act only on its precise substrate.  Like the interlocking pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, the exact shapes of enzyme and substrate must fit together perfectly, or the reaction will not take place. In this vital lock and key mode of action the enzyme and substrate first combine into a complex, then break apart and make new reaction products and the original unchanged enzyme.

Enzyme + substrate -> Enzyme-substrate complex

Activated enzyme – substrate complex -> Reaction products + Enzyme

While the substrate is locked in place with the enzyme, the enzyme places exact stress on it to break certain bonds and rearrange specific molecules.  When unlocking occurs, different reaction products are released, and the enzyme breaks away unchanged, ready to perform its remarkable feat repeatedly.

In some cases, as in the completion of reactions, such as those involved in cellular oxidation to yield energy requires coenzymes.  It may be helpful to think of the coenzyme as another substrate, for in receiving the material transferred the coenzyme is changed or reduced.

Enzyme + Coenzyme + Substrate -> Enzyme-coenzyme-substrate complex 

Activated enzyme-coenzyme-substrate complex -> Reaction products + Reduced coenzyme + Enzyme 

In energy metabolism, hormones act as chemical messengers to trigger and control enzyme action.  The word hormone comes from the Greek word ‘hormaein’ meaning ‘set in motion’ or ‘to spur on’. Hormones are secretions of the endocrine glands, and they perform many regular functions throughout the body.  Steroid hormones also have the capacity to regulate the cell’s ability to synthesize enzymes.


Plant/Microbial vs. Animal Enzymes

Plant and Microbial enzymes have a much broader pH range and can work throughout the digestive tract.  The pH environment of the digestive tract is highly variable and can range from very acidic in the stomach to be quite alkaline in the small intestine.  Most enzyme supplements derived from animal sources are enteric coated because of their lack of stability in the acidity of the gastric region.  Fortunately, enzymes derived from microbial or plant sources are stable throughout a much broader range; they are ideally suited for survival and activity throughout the gastrointestinal tract.

No matter what we eat our food consists of proteins, fats and carbohydrates.  To convert these three basic groups into materials our bodies can use, we need to have three enzyme groups – proteolytic, lipolytic and amylolytic – working to digest our food.


Proteolytic enzymes or proteases

Proteases are enzymes that decompose protein.  Protein is made up of about twenty amino acids. Like every enzyme, each protease works on a specific amino acid.  For example, the protease trypsin splits the amino acids lysine and arginine; chymotrypsin splits phenylalanine and tryptophan.

Proteolytic enzymes:

  • Pancreatin – animal source.  Most active from pH 6.5 to 9.0, used for pancreas insufficiency, disturbed digestion, after gastrectomy, for children with cystic fibrosis.
  • Trypsin – animal source.  Optimal activities from pH 7.0 to 9.0, used to accelerate healing in injuries, inflammation, ulcerations, abscesses, haematomas.
  • Chymotrypsin – animal source.  Optimal efficiency at pH 8.0, used before and after tooth extractions, for treatment of abscesses and ulcerations, in therapy of eyeball hematomas.
  • Papin – carica papaya source. Optimal activity from pH 2.5 to 7.0, used in malabsorption syndrome caused by gluten intolerance, in intoxication caused by stings of jellyfish and insects, to prevent scar malformation, in wound healing.
  • Bromelain – ananas comosus.  Highest activity between pH 3.0 and 8.0, used in treatment of swelling, inflammation, in painful menstrual haemorrhages, and in acute sinusitis.

Lipolytic enzymes or lipases

Lipases decompose fat (lipids).  The lipid family includes triglycerides (fats and oils), phospholipids (such as lecithin), and sterols (such as cholesterol).

Lipolytic enzymes:

  • Pancreatin
  • Lipase – fungal source (Aspergillus oryzae).  Activity depends on calcium ions, highest activity from pH 5.0 to 7.5, used to increase pancreatic/lipolytic activities in pancreatin-containing remedies, intensifies synergistic activity of lipoprotein-lipase in blood.

Amylolytic enzymes or amylases

Amylases decompose carbohydrates.  Sources of carbohydrates are sucrose (sugar), lactose (milk), fructose and starches (almost all non-animal foods and particularly grains). In addition to these carbohydrates, we consume alcohol, amylose, glycogen, lactic acid, pectins and dextrine.  Our diet may also contain large amounts of cellulose, which is a carbohydrate.  However, because the human digestive tract does not produce cellulase, the enzyme that breaks down cellulose, it works as a fiber and not as an energy source.

Amylolytic enzymes:

  • Pancreatin
  • Amylase – Aspergillus oryzae (fungus) source.  Activity depends on calcium ions, highest activity at pH 6.5.
  • Lactase – Aspergillus niger (fungus) and Saccharomyces lactis (yeast) source.  Optimal pH varies from pH 4.0 to 5.0 for the fungus and pH 6.0 to 8.5 for the yeast, used for lactose insufficiency and as a digestive aid.
  • Cellulase – Aspergillus niger (fungal) source.  Act to break down cellulose and cereal glucans (form of gluten), used as a digestive aid for foods high in cellulose as some veggies and foods with gluten as breads, pasta etc.

Benefits of enzymes
Digestive enzymes break the food into microscopic particles that allow the nutrients to pass from the intestines into the blood stream.  Enzymes assist in storing sugar in the liver and muscles, and turn fat into adipose tissue.  Enzymes in the immune system remove waste materials and poisons from blood and tissue.  They also act as scavengers in the human body.

Where do we get enzymes?

Enzymes are found in raw food. In cooked, canned, pasteurized, baked, fried or microwaved food there are no enzymes.  At 118 degrees, the enzymes are destroyed.  When we eat most of our food cooked, our digestive system has to produce all the enzymes, thus causing an enlargement of digestive organs.  Then the body draws from its reserves from all organs and tissues causing a metabolic deficit.

A person can live on cooked food for years but that eventually will lead to cellular enzyme exhaustion, which causes a weak immune system and ultimately disease.

Enzymes can be supplemented by capsules, chew-able tablets or powders.  Full spectrum digestive enzymes, like Supreme Enzymes, would help the body efficiently absorb nutrients by the breakdown of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, sugars, lactose and cellulose.  People with low stomach acidity may want to choose enzymes like Superzymes, which contains Betaine Hydrochloride.


1. Dr. Edward Howell, Enzyme Nutrition – the Food Enzyme concept
2. Dr. Kurt Donsbach, Candidiases & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
3. Dr. Anthony J. Cichoke, Enzymes Enzyme Therapy
4. Dr. Humbart Santillo, Food Enzymes the Missing Link to Radiant Health
5. Sue Rodwell Williams, Nutrition and Diet Therapy
6. James Privitera, M.D, Silent Clots – Life’s Biggest Killer

*None of the statements above have been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.