Systemic Enzymes for Musculoskeletal Health*
Systemic enzyme therapy is the use of oral proteolytic enzymes such as trypsin, chymotrypsin, papain, and bromelain taken on an empty stomach. Since stomach acid can destroy proteolytic enzymes, the best formulas are “enteric coated” tablets or “delayed release” capsules. Enteric-coating means that the pills have a coating around them to prevent the pill from being broken down in the stomach. “Delayed release” vegetarian capsules use natural dietary fibers that also resist stomach acid to provide targeted delivery of the enzymes to the upper small intestine. Clinical research, anecdotal evidence, and a long history of use has shown that proteolytic enzymes can systemically support circulation, healthy inflammatory response, and recovery of the musculoskeletal system after overexertion.*
Several studies have shown that proteolytic enzymes can help support muscle recovery after exercise.* A 2009 study published in the Journal of International Society of Sports Nutrition demonstrated efficacy with a product that contained proteolytic enzymes combined with curcumin.* A 2004 study published in the Journal of Sports Science demonstrated that proteolytic enzymes reduced muscle soreness after downhill running.*
Several randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials have shown that systemic enzyme therapy can help support healthy joint function.* This includes a 2015 study published in the journal Arthritis, a 2004 review of clinical studies published in Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, and a 2004 trial published in Clinical Rheumatology.
A 2018 randomized double-blind controlled trial published in the Journal of Phlebology and Lymphology using systemic enzymes in people needing extra vein support demonstrated that the supplemental enzymes were “safe and effective.”
When proteolytic enzymes are given on an empty stomach, they can systemically support the musculoskeletal system on many levels.* There are several high-quality systemic enzyme supplements presently available for integrative practitioners to choose from for specific musculoskeletal applications.
Akhtar NM, Naseer R, Farooqi AZ, et al. Clinical Rheumatology. 2004;23(5):410-415.
Baumueller M, Rau S. Journal of Phlebology and Lymphology. 2018;11(1):7-12.
Bolten WW, Glade MJ, Raum S, Ritz BW. Arthritis. 2015(2015).
Brien S, Lewith G, Walker A, et al. Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2004;1(3):251-257.
Miller PC, Bailey SP, Barnes ME, et al. Journal of Sports Science. 2004;22(4):365-72.
Paradis M, Couture P, Gigleau I, et al. PharmaNutrition. 2015;3(3):83-88.
Udani JK, Singh BB, Singh VJ, Sandoval E. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 2009;6:14.