The first area of Natural Supplements I want to explore falls into the category of Proteolytic Enzymes. The value of these for fighting Cancer was first proposed and researched by Dr John Beard between 1906 and 1911. So they have been around for a long time. There are today a number of clinics primarily using Proteolytic Enzymes for Cancer treatment, and there are even more medical professionals that recommend their use as an adjunct therapy along side standard orthodox cancer treatments. What are Proteolytic Enzymes? For our purposes, they are Digestive Enzymes called Bromelain, Papain, and Pancreatin that come from pineapple, papaya and hog pancreas. Another, and possibly the most powerful Proteolytic Enzyme we will discuss is Serratia Peptidase from the silkworm.
It is believed these Proteolytic Enzymes assist in increasing Cancer fighting antiproteases that block the invasiveness of tumor cells. They inhibit metastasis by clearing proteins around Cancer Cells allowing killer T-cells and the Natural Killer cells to identify and attack them easier, and they block the growth of new blood vessels to developing Cancer thereby depriving the Cancer of necessary nourishment needed to support Cancer cell growth. They also work to dissolve fibrin. Fibrin tends to cloak Cancer cells and make them sticky creating a greater likelihood of metastases. When the fibrin is dissolved the Cancer cells are easier to detect and destroy by the body’s own defenses. Because of this process it has been shown that Proteolytic Enzymes increase the effectiveness of both the macrophages and the natural killer cells by up to 12 times. In addition they may also assist in the fight against viral infections as a result of chemo-induced immune suppression. Since all this can’t be said on the label at your local vitamin store, they are most commonly promoted as a product that relieves digestive problems, relieves aches and pains, supports the immune system, increases flexibility, improve circulation, eases sore throat pain, aids in weight loss, and supports joint and tendon health.
Proteolytic Enzymes are best taken with a full glass of water on an empty stomach at least 45 minutes before any meal and up to two hours after a meal. They should be Enteric-Coated to pass through the stomach where in the small intestine they dissolve because of PH change. There they become digestive enzymes to help us digest our food and convert proteins into free amino acids, which are easily absorbed by the cells of the intestinal wall. Important note: It is believed if too much processed and overcooked foods/meats are eaten too fast, the pancreas which naturally secretes our enzymes can become overburdened with the digestive enzyme demands. This then creates a situation allowing toxins into the body thereby stressing the immune system and providing an opportunity for Cancer. As the Supplemental Proteolytic Enzymes then enter the circulatory system they are called systemic enzymes. There are important precautions before taking Proteolytic Enzymes to consider. They are a known blood thinner. Individuals taking prescription blood thinners, having surgery in less than a few weeks, experiencing problems with ulcers or reflux disease, taking antibiotics, pregnant or lactating women, or those with a food allergy to pineapples or papayas should either not take or consult a physician before taking Proteolytic Enzymes.
The Proteolytic Enzymes I currently take are in a broad-spectrum formula called Wobenzym N. This company has been around for a very long time and is trusted in their quality. Suggested use on the label for Adults is 3 tablets twice daily. The label goes further to say dosage may be increased up to 12 tablets total per day spread over 4 doses. Those professionally treating Cancer with this product say because the amount of Proteolytic Enzymes in any over the counter product is low, they recommend taking from 40 tablets to as high as 90 tablets per day dosage. When taking high doses it is recommended doing so in stretches of around 25 days, then allowing some time off, 4-5 days, for the body to eliminate the waste product created. I am still in the experimental stage with my small dosage. As I do have a slight food allergy to pineapple, I am being careful and watching how my body responds to the Bromelain in the Wobenzym N. No doubt I will increase the dose as over time, and I may also look to other alternative products that drop or reduce the Bromelain.
There are many ways to increase Proteolytic Enzyme intake. Just eating red fruit Papaya, rich in Papain, and Lycopene has been shown to have dramatic positive affects on Cancer. In addition to the benefit from the Proteolytic Enzyme, the highly bio-available Lycopene in papaya accumulates in prostate tissue, and is localized in the nucleus of prostate epithelial cells. There it is believed to induce cancer cell death, anti-metastatic activity, and the up-regulation of protective enzymes. In one Prostate Cancer study in Australia is was found that men who consumed the most Lycopene-rich fruits and vegetables such as papaya were 82% less likely to have prostate cancer, and that when Lycopene-rich foods were consumed with green tea, the combination was even more effective. Organo-sulfur compounds called isothiocyanates are also found in papaya that have shown themselves capable of inhibiting both the formation and development of cancer cells.
Serratia Peptidase (Serratiopeptidase, Serrapeptase) is a Proteolytic Enzyme originally derived from the silkworm. In addition to its’ Cancer and Tumor preventative qualities, it breaks down "non living" matter in the human body, including cysts, arterial plaque, blood clots and scar tissue. It can reduce the levels of dead tissue in the circulatory system and dissolve fibrin build up in the cardiovascular system, organs and muscle tissue, promoting healthier blood flow and making Cancer cells readily detectable. In Japan and Europe it is commonly used as an anti-inflammatory for conditions including sinusitis, laryngitis, sore throat, ear infections, back pain, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, fibromyalgia, carpel tunnel syndrome, migraine and tension headaches. It has also been used to reduce plaque buildup in the arteries. Studies show its anti-inflammatory effects are superior to other Proteolytic Enzymes. One of its’ greatest benefits is reduction of pain. Some physicians in Europe and Asia are even using it as a replacement for ibuprofen and other NSAIDs.
One additional note, I am still researching Proteolytic Enzymes and expect to have more information soon on a New Study that appears to question their use.
Recently a Scripps Team at Scripps Research Institute has completed some new research that indicates the cleavage of protein surrounding a Cancer Cell by Proteolytic Enzymes may actually protect cancer cells because the cleavage triggers a signaling cascade in the tumor cell that blocks apoptosis. They went further to say that the cleavage of CDCP1 by a serine protease enzyme is the key event that promotes tumor cell survival. Since the Serine Proteases, chymotrypsin and trypsin from the Pancreas and Supplements, are enzymes that cleave protein chains, I wonder if taking these in the form of Wobenzym N, or other Supplements, ‘may’ be creating further problems or if the particular enzyme they are discussing is different. My first thought is that Proteolytic Enzymes work to clear proteins around cancer cells making it easier for T-cells and the Natural Killer cells to identify and attack. Now I am concerned that taking Proteolytic Enzymes may cause Cancer Cells to be more virulent and more easily spread. This new Study appears in contradiction to the abundant good results documented by those treating Prostate Cancer with Proteolytic Enzyme Therapy. As it presents a new question, I am looking for a further clarification on the matter.
More on this to follow…
Next installment: Cancer Fighting Supplements - Quercetin