Enzymes go to work the second something is placed in your mouth.

OK, so maybe enzymes aren’t exactly “magical,” but they definitely work magically wonderful. The minute you place food into your mouth, location specific enzymes are secreted to break down the simple sugars and starches. Salivary amylase (a.k.a. ptyalin), along with salivary lipase, goes to work on them to get a head start on those nutrients to break them down into smaller units for the next stages.

The stomach is where the proteins are broken down by Hydrochloric acid and pepsin (pepsinogen). The heat, acid, enzymes and churning actions of the stomach muscle go to work on the chewed (hopefully) food.

Notice, I said Hydrochloric acid digests protein. While many people have been conditioned to believe stomach acid is the cause for ills, it is actually very necessary. Pepsin even is dependent upon this acid being present to be active. Remember this when you see commercials for those very famous “purple pills” which shut off the proton pumps in the stomach. Proton pumps are where the acid is secreted. If they shut off, they decrease the stomach acid available to “turn on” the pepsin to get those proteins digested. So, yes, they decrease acid reflux….but they may increase indigestion and the feelings of bloat or nagging “rock in the gut” like complaints.

 

As the food moves out of the stomach, it enters the first part of the small intestine, called the duodenum. This is where the rest of the digestion initiates. Pancreatic amylase goes to work on the partially digested sugars and starches; trypsin and chymotrypsin start the end processing of the proteins; and fats are finally acted upon by lipase in bile. Other, more specialized enzymes, exist to aid in the digestion of certain things. One example is lactase breaking down milk sugar (called lactose). The pulsating waves of peristalsis move this ball of goo through the small intestines to the jejunum and the illium – each section possessing very different, specialized structures – and nutrients being taken into the blood stream by the millions of teeny blood vessels running throughout the organ. The stuff leftover (mostly fluids and fibers) are moved into the large intestine (colon) and the water absorption/regulation takes place.

Enzyme Supplementation

Those who suffer from bloating, gas, bouts of constipation, and other gastro-intestinal issues may have seen advertisements for dietary enzymes supplements. They are marketed to relieve these types of complaints. Some are marketed to assist with specialty enzymes, like lactose and those which break down beans, in order to ease the symptoms of gastric distress felt by some.

There is some disagreement over whether or not these supplementations are even necessary. Some doctors argue a lot of the enzymes are digested before they even get to the proper spot to be of any use. Others are proponents and support their use, wholeheartedly. What is a confused consumer to do? My best advice is to use your head. Have you tried them? Did it increase your feelings of gastric distress or alleviate them? Do you have a medical condition like a peptic ulcer which would be irritated by them? These are questions only you can answer.

What I will say is this: I use enzymes. They help reduce my feelings of a brick being dropped into my gut and help regulate bowel movements. However, I do not feel enzyme supplementation should be “forever thing.” Of course there’s a lot of varied debate, but a “usual” recommendation is to use them for a few months and then ease off. They can be used after or during heavier (think larger) meals or intermittently. A multi-enzyme supplement may contain the following (but certainly is not limited to these):

  •  Alpha-galactosidase
  •  Amylase
  •  Bromelain
  •  Cellulase
  •  Glucoamylase
  •  Hemicellulase
  •  Invertase [Sucrase]
  •  Lactase
  •  Lipase
  •  Maltase
  •  Papain
  •  Peptidase
  •  Protease
  •  Phytase

These are both enzymes usually found in the body, and those found in some foods. However, if there is an acid deficiency or a low level of other enzymes, those food bound enzymes may not ever be “unlocked” to work. What a catch-22, huh?

 

The body was designed to secrete these on its own. As an herbalist, it is my job to suggest natural plant based items which may help your body do what it is designed to do. That being said, check in for the next installment regarding uses for enzymes which may interest you even more.

Sources (among others) :

http://www.amymyersmd.com/2016/04/digestive-enzymes/

http://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/eat-run/2013/04/23/digestive-enzymes-help-or-hype

https://www.womentowomen.com/digestive-health/functions-of-digestive-enzymes/

http://www.doctoroz.com/article/boosting-your-immunity-enzymes

 

 

Stress can be detrimental to a person’s health on all levels. Each and every bodily system seems to be effected on so many levels. The connection between the heart and cardiovascular system and stress has been well documented and, now, is widely known to the general public. But what about the connection between stress and the digestive system? How much do we know about it?

We know that stress can cause the esophagus to spasm. IMAG0094_1_2 That same stress that can cause the esophageal spasm can shut down the mill action of the stomach, in turn, causing nausea. The stomach lining is filled with nerve endings which are constantly sending information back and forth from the brain. It has been found that some neurotransmitters are present in a higher concentration in the digestive system than anywhere else! This nervous system network, now referred to as the enteric nervous system, has its own nerve plexi and sends reflexive information to and receives it from the brain, independently of the divisions of the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS).

Knowing this, and doing things to prevent the effects of stress from ravaging one’s digestive tract, can be quite different matters. For example, I have had trouble swallowing for as long as I can remember. As a kid, food would get stuck in my throat routinely. During periods of high stress and anxiety, it would become worse. Dinners where arguments ensued would just produce pain. In fact, just a couple short months ago, I found myself in a position where I suffered the consequences of not “practicing what I preach.” I was at my “real world job,” and I ended up working alone. I was hoping to stay ahead of the game by working and eating at the same time. However, upon my first bite of chicken, I found myself choking. After a brief flash of my life before my eyes, the real panic set in. You see, I am the emergency responder on my shift. I am supposed to give aid to others in a situation such as this. What in the world was I supposed to do for myself?

I threw myself over the back of a chair. This moved the bite of chicken, but it became lodged in my throat. Therefore, no water, food, etc could get down and the chicken would not come back up, either. I finished my shift, in pain, went home to see my children off to school and then drove myself to my doctor’s office. MY family doctor, even though he knew I did not want to go, sent me on to the emergency room of the local hospital. There, they could not offer any more aid. A surgeon had to be called in. Three hours later, I was the recipient of an esophageal dilation. While I realize the necessity of the procedure, I do not suggest anyone signing up for it unless absolutely needed.

What’s going on here? Read More

Anger can affect your kidneys.
Anger can affect your kidneys.

“I’m so pissed off!”‘

“I about pissed my pants.”

“She’s full of piss and vinegar.”

“I just feel pissed on.”

Pissed off; pissed on; pissin’ in the wind…WHY are there so many references to urinting in our verbalization of our feelings? One could say it is a coincidence. However, research comes out every day showing the links between the emotions we feel and the physical symptoms that seemed to be ever linked to those emotions.

Louise Hay, founder of Hay House publishing, was a visionary in spreading the word of these links to any person wanting to listen. Her work, along with that of others,serves as a beacon to those wanting to fully address every aspect of his or her health.

According to Louise, feelings of criticism, disappointment, failure, shame and ‘acting like a child’ can create the vibrational energies which may allow various kidney problems to surface. She equates kidney stones with the conditions present when one holds on to small lumps of anger.

While these border on the metaphysical, I find great correlation. If I have a hot, swollen kidney issue could it not be also a situation of hot anger? And then I would use cooling and soothing herbs. Marshmallow to soothe the irritation; Cornsilk to dilate the ureters and allow the heat to exit quickly; and lots of water to dilute the urine and flush it all out. Read More