Digestive Enzymes

(Note: People should be aware that the use of digestive enzymes is not suggested when there is inflammation of the stomach lining.)


A number of digestive enzyme supplements are available. The simple ones are extracted from tropical fruits: bromelain from pineapple and papain from papayas. Papain has a mild, soothing effect on the stomach and aids in protein digestion. Bromelain is probably more important; it is an anti-inflammatory enzyme useful in posttraumatic responses and swelling and after surgery. It is also part of an antiaging program as it reduces tissue irritation. This proteolytic enzyme of pineapple also has several actions that make it helpful in the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease. It reduces platelet aggregation, arterial plaqueing, and clot formation; 400–1,000 mg. daily has been shown to reduce the symptoms of angina pectoris. Bromelain’s most popular use has been to reduce joint inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis. The ranges for bromelain’s anti-inflammatory effects appear to be from 500–2,000 mg. daily, usually taken in two doses. More research is needed to clearly evaluate the potential medical uses of this enzyme as well as those secreted by the pancreas itself.


The pancreas secretes lipases, amylases, and proteases such as trypsin and chymotrypsin. Individual enzymes can be extracted and then added to nutritional formulas, but usually the best support is with the whole (glandular) pancreas, which will be discussed in the upcoming section on glandulars. Of all enzyme treatment, pancreatic enzyme support has the greatest potential in medicine. Preliminary research on pancreatic enzymes suggests a favorable response to all those problems mentioned as helped by bromelain. Furthermore, cancer may be influenced by high dosages of pancreatic enzymes. Many doctors believe that pancreatic insufficiency is at the root of many degenerative diseases, including cancer

Elson M. Haas MD Written by Elson M. Haas MD

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