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How do Proteolytic Enzymes Work?

proteolytic enzymes for injury

Most of us know that enzymes help to digest food. But enzymes aren’t just for dinner anymore!

Proteolytic or systemic enzymes have had a long tradition of helping with inflammation after injuries and over-use/repetitive motion. I found this out first hand several years ago when I had taken on the task of ripping out many shrubs and plants in our yard. After spending nearly a day bending up and down and on my hands and knees cleaning out a landscape bed, I realized I could barely get up when I was done! My legs and knees were stiff and it hurt to move.

I’ve never been a fan of Ibuprofen or Tylenol and I was just starting to research and study natural health so I asked around for alternatives to deal with my stiff joints. A chiropractor said I probably had some irritation going on after over-doing it gardening. He recommended I take Wobenzym, a proteolytic enzyme formula. I popped eight of them (as suggested) and then took two more every two hours and I was amazed at the relief I felt within a few hours. He said that the initial loading dose of 8 to 10 is what is needed in an injury or over-use.

At the time, I wondered why the label had said to take 3, twice daily. The initial loading dose strategy made sense to me so I followed the chiropractor’s recommendation. The next day I could move nearly free of pain and restriction! Now perhaps it would have worked just as well to follow the label but since Wobenzym isn’t a drug, I also realized that there were probably some restrictions on what the label could and couldn’t say. It did get me wondering though on how it worked.

wobenzym for overuse


How do proteolytic enzymes work?

Proteolytic enzymes (or proteases) are the various enzymes that digest proteins and fibrin. These enzymes include the pancreatic proteases chymotrypsin and trypsin, bromelain (pineapple enzyme), papain (papaya enzyme), serrapeptase and fungal proteases. These enzymes are used in systemic enzyme therapy for a whole body effect.

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Proteolytic enzymes work systemically when they are taken orally away from food. In this case, timing is everything! Enzyme therapy works when the enzymes are taken 30-60 minutes before meals and at least 60 minutes after a meal. When taken away from food, the enzymes don’t need to digest food so they are absorbed with the enzymes intact in the small intestine, making their way to the blood. In her article on Systemic Enzyme Therapy for Pain, Dr. Tina Marcantel explains how proteolytic enzymes work in a variety of ways.

But isn’t fibrin necessary?

Fibrin is necessary to help blood clot. Too much clotting and poor blood flow may be an issue though as we age due to cumulative effects of poor diet, lack of exercise, and the aging process itself. Our poor food choices help promote a variety of health issues, which maycontribute to thicker blood and restricted blood flow.

Poor blood flow starts without obvious signs. You could have restricted blood flow at multiple sites along the 100,000 miles of blood vessels in your body and not even know it! Some of these sites are probably critical locations in the heart, brain or other organs. Since blood provides oxygen and vital nutrients throughout the body, poor circulation is often a contributor for some chronic disease states.

Those bad dietary choices might include too much sugar, alcohol, hydrogenated oils, and animal proteins. It would also likely include too little healthy fats such as olive oil, avocados, most nuts and cold-water fatty fish, as well as not enough vegetables and fruits. Check out our version of a healthy food pyramid to help you determine if your food choices could be improved upon.

If you’re on any sort of blood thinning medication, your doctor has likely told you to limit your green vegetables so you don’t consume too much Vitamin K. This important vitamin helps our blood clot. If you decide to clean up your diet and consume more veggies, do make sure your practitioner is aware and monitors your status if you are on any sort of blood thinning medication.

This article provides some good news that a healthy diet may positively affect a variety of diseases. So remember, eating your vegetables and fruits means your antioxidant status is greatly enhanced. Antioxidants are our protectors from free radicals. It’s never too late to clean up your diet!

If you have some genetic tendencies toward certain diseases, enzyme therapy might be worth considering. At least, do a little research and weigh the pros and cons. I have not heard of too many cons – though it may not be tolerated well by those with ulcers or gastrointestinal issues. Of course, there is always the possibility of an allergic reaction as with any food or drug and certainly consult with your practitioner, especially if on any blood-thinning medication.

What conditions may benefit from enzyme therapy?

Regular enzyme therapy has been shown to be useful in sports injuries and traumas, and when inflammation is present due to overuse. Too much yard work, excessive bending and lifting. Playing weekend warrior when your body just isn’t used to it seems like the perfect scenario.

The Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database states that the enzyme Trypsin is effective for osteoarthritis and wound healing. The enzyme Bromelain is rated possibly effective for osteoarthritis. The combination of Trypsin, Rutin & Bromelain was also rated effective for treating osteoarthritis according to the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database.

As with many supplements, proteolytic enzymes such as Wobenzym work best when used appropriately.  For me, the proof is that it worked; and on more than one occasion I might add!

Share your success story (or someone you know) with enzyme use below.


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8 Responses to How do Proteolytic Enzymes Work?

  1. Rob May 9, 2014 at 2:46 pm #

    Try these enzymes with a time release curcumin like Meriva SR or similar. They have really helped my muscle and joint pain when I walk.

  2. Azalea July 21, 2014 at 9:26 am #

    They really do work- I take 2-3 a day and while I still have fibromyalgia, it is no where near what it used to be!

    • Theresa E. Marino February 14, 2019 at 6:21 pm #

      Azelea My name is Theresa and I have had Fibromyagia for 10 years since diagnosis. I think I have had it for over 20 years.

      Do you still take this supplement? Your post is from 2014. Were you able to get off of other medication after you started using this enzyme? Any help regarding Fibro would be greatly appreciated.

  3. Dee August 10, 2014 at 3:49 pm #

    Hello, thank you for this article, I am trying this for painful bursitis. I appreciate your information about a “loading dose” I have only been taking 3 twice a day. I am increasing now, I hope it helps.
    Thank you

  4. Doris October 23, 2015 at 8:01 pm #

    Thank you for this article! I have begun using serrapeptase and to my surprise in about 4 days my edema was greatly reduced and a kind of limb discomfort/pain that I’ve had for years is gone. My doctor prescribed Serralase by Prothera and I think she did so to go after chronic inflammation. (I’m healing Hashimoto’s, leaky gut, SIBO, methylation issues, viral loads and who knows what else.) I’ve also begun taking Nutricology’s pancreatic (pork sourced) enzymes with meals to digest and get the most out of my food, and will begin trying them in between meals soon. I feel very tired and flu like-detoxy from the Serralase, so I think going slowly is important. I also think it will take time and consistency, like any other health endeavor, to create the most change. I wonder why enzyme therapies are not more main stream and embraced here in the states. From my experience it’s clearly effective, safe, and natural.

  5. Linda Lovefire January 25, 2019 at 10:22 pm #

    To answer Doris’s question I suspect because the drug companies don’t make money on them and big part of how the doctors are educated. If you look up the history of how they took over medicine with Rockafella and Carnegie in the 1900’s it is quite shocking.

  6. Diane Ritter March 11, 2019 at 1:00 pm #

    I have RA would heal and soothe by living well work for me

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