Inflammation – a common problem faced daily by health care practitioners and their patients. Whether it manifests as a sprained ankle, arthritis, or a muscle tension headache, every day, healthcare practitioners provide treatment and patients deal with the pain.
However, inflammation can be much more far-reaching than these seemingly innocuous, short-term injuries, and any part of the body can be affected. In fact, researchers are more and more frequently linking inflammation to many debilitating conditions grouped under the umbrella of autoimmune disease, such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and fibromyalgia. Many serious and life-threatening illnesses, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer's disease, and even cancer are being increasingly connected to an underlying problem with inflammation.
The Pharmaceutical FactorThe pharmaceutical industry has cashed in on the inflammation bandwagon – big time!
Aspirin, one of the oldest pain relievers, has been used in its present form for over 100 years, but reports of willow bark, from which aspirin was originally derived, date back to the time of Hippocrates. The past several decades have seen the introduction of ibuprofen and naproxen and more recently the COX-2 inhibitors rofecoxib (trade name Vioxx) and celecoxib (trade name Celebrex).
The COX-2 inhibitor debacle turned out to be a classic example of pharmaceuticals gone bad, with both of these drugs possibly resulting in more deaths than they ever provided therapeutic benefit. While they may effectively control inflammation and pain, these drugs also come with the risk of heart attack or stroke. And while somewhat safer, aspirin, ibuprofen and other OTC pain relievers come with their own set of problems, such as heartburn, ulcers and even possible liver damage. Despite all this, NSAIDs are one of the most commonly prescribed drugs in the United States, and an estimated 14 to 20 million people take one each day.
Proteolytic Enzymes - A Natural Alternative
How does one solve the inflammation conundrum naturally and avoid the risks associated with pharmaceutical NSAIDs? Use of therapeutic proteolytic enzymes—such as bromelain from pineapple and papain from papaya —has been documented for over half a century, but even ancient civilizations knew of their healing powers and wrapped papaya leaves around wounds to promote healing. Numerous studies confirm the power of protease when used for everything from osteoarthritis to sinusitis.
The inflammatory process starts when the body is assaulted in some manner. This can be tissue damage due to injury, such as twisting an ankle or being cut, or invasion by a foreign assailant, such as bacteria, viruses or — according to some sources — undigested food seeping from the digestive tract into the bloodstream.
In most cases, the body responds instantly with a full frontal attack. A host of chemical compounds known as inflammatory mediators regulate the entire process. These include histamine, prostaglandins, kinins, leukotrienes and a group of plasma proteins making up the complement system. Their function is to choreograph the vascular and cellular effects of inflammation.
Blood flow to the injured area increases, while blood flow away shuts down. Blood vessels become more permeable, fluid seeps into the tissues, and the capillaries become engorged. These events all result in three of the four cardinal signs of inflammation: swelling, redness and heat.
How Do Proteolytic Enzymes Function?
Enzymes work with the body's innate mechanisms to promote healing and allow inflammation to progress naturally. They support the production of various cytokines, activate large proteins, such as alpha-2-macroglobulins, and slow the clotting mechanism, which provokes a healthier healing response.
InflammEnz, from the Advanced Formula product line, was the subject of a University of Texas Southwest Medical Center study, published in the Journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons– Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. The results of the randomized, crossover, placebo-controlled, double-blind, clinical trial showed InflammEnz accelerated healing time by nearly 20% – this occurred in 77% of the subjects tested - in addition to reducing inflammation. InflammEnz contains a proprietary full-spectrum enzyme blend called pHysioProtease™found exclusively in products from Enzymes, Inc.
In addition to being effective, enzyme supplements are very safe. Other than a precaution for blood thinning, especially when used in conjunction with other anticoagulants, therapeutic enzymes have no risks and an excellent safety and side-effect profile. Enzymes can speed healing and dramatically improve the overall health of patients suffering from inflammation.
Donna Werner, DC for Enzymes, Inc. For more information call 800-637-7893. This article was originally published in the FCA Journal.