Do Cancer Patients Need Enzymes?
So many cancer patients are dealing with gut issues. So many cancer patients are dealing with digestion issues. I think this is a serious problem and can be a huge roadblock to healing.
The topic of enzymes is a popular one among the alternative healing cancer world. I wanted to sit down and present my research, break down enzymes and what it can mean for a cancer patient, as well as share my own story at the end. I hope you enjoy it and get some value from this piece.
Let’s get into it!
What are Enzymes?
Enzymes are specialized protein molecules. These protein molecules can speed up, catalyze (aka accelerate) biochemical reactions that occur within the human body. Enzymes are a part of every single aspect when it comes to things like:
- Human phsysiology
There are a lot of inherited human illnesses/diseases (like albinism) that are a direct result of a particular enzyme deficiency.
Different enzymes do different things. There are so many complex biochemical reactions that happen with the human body (as well as plants and animals) and are regulated by enzymes. So as one can imagine, there are many different types of enzymes. Some of the most popular enzymes that we talk about are digestive enzymes. But there is more than this.
Do cancer patients need enzymes?
Most cancer patients will need specific enzymes. Not always, but most.
Many cancer patients need help with digestive enzymes and more. When cancer patients undergo treatment with enzymes, it is often called enzyme therapy. Many doctors believe it plays an important part in treating many chronic and degenerative diseases… This includes cancer. Again, a big one being digestive enzymes being needed.
We need to understand that fats, carbohydrates and proteins simply cannot be completely digested without sufficient digestive enzymes. There are also vital nutrients, such as vitamins and minerals that may not be able to be fully utilized unless there are adequate levels of digestive enzymes present.
Most cancer patients do not have enough digestive enzymes present.
There are various digestive enzymes that are produced in different parts of the digestive tract, so unfortunately it’s not as simple as taking one digestive enzyme and going on your way. There are different enzymes that range from salivary glands in the mouth, all the way to the small intestine.
Many of the most IMPORTANT enzymes are produced within the pancreas.
The Pancreas, Enzymes, and Cancer Patients
If the pancreas is damaged or it is chronically infected, we can expect that the result may be one of the following:
- Severe mal-absorbtion
When this happens, enzyme supplements can be implemented. These supplements can help the body whilst also starting the healing journey.
We also need to think of the small intestine here, as it is similar. The small intestine must also produce digestive enzymes (lactase, lactose, for example) and if it does not produce enough, then food can move down the intestinal tract unabsorbed. This can cause:
- Excess and uncomfortable gas
Here is the problem: If only partially digested protein molecules go into the digestive tract and are then absorbed into the bloodstream, they can then be mistaken as a foreign invader. This can put the immune system into attack mode when it is not necessary.
The result of this? Circulating immune complexes (otherwise known as CIC’s) can fan the flame of many different things:
- Numerous different pains
Therefore, pancreatic enzymes can be extremely beneficial for cancer patients.
Cancer patients deal with so much when it comes to cancer. Their bodies are quite literally weaker. Their bodily processes don’t always work as well. Cancer means inflammation.
Food is a healer and food needs to be properly absorbed and utilized. Enzymes can really help a cancer patient through their healing journey.
Enzyme Therapy as a cancer treatment
I do not believe that enzyme therapy alone can be a cancer treatment, but I do see where it can help.
The consent is that enzyme therapy can be an alternative form of treating cancer. Typically this would involve taking specific enzyme supplements (pill, capsule, etc) that reportedly remove a protective coating from cancer cells, therefore allowing white blood cells to identify and attack these cancer cells. (source)
Dr. Andrew Wiel, MD, states this about enzyme therapy for cancer patients:
“According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), enzymes were reportedly first used to treat cancer by a Scottish scientist in 1902. Later, German researchers used enzyme therapy to treat multiple sclerosis (MS), cancer and viral infections. Despite this history, I know of no evidence showing that these methods worked and have seen no scientific evidence to support claims that the enzyme supplements promoted for cancer treatment today are effective.”
There still needs to be much more research before enzyme therapy can be considered a true cancer treatment therapy, however it can certainly help along bodily processes and alleviate certain symptoms that cancer patients experience.
Digestive Enzymes Vs. Probiotics
This is another debate, or rather, confusion. Should a cancer patient be taking one, or both?
First things first, both digestive enzymes and probiotics aid in the digestive process. But they are certainly not the same.
Think of digestive enzymes as protein molecules that aid in the breakdown of the foods we consume.
Probiotics are living microorganisms that live in our gut and positively affect our body and it’s physiological processes and functions.
Both are often needed with cancer patients.
A quick note on probiotics, because they really can help support digestive enzymes alongside:
As we now know, probiotics are beneficial bacteria. They can help with gut inflammation, keep you regular, help maintain your weight and help keep intestinal problems at bay (much like digestive enzymes.) Taking a probiotic everyday can do a lot for us. (Source)
We should aim to take a probiotic supplement every day especially if we are not getting enough probiotic foods in our diet. Foods like sauerkraut, yogurt, kimchi, tempeh, etc.
To make probiotics more effective: Make sure to get in enough prebiotics.
There are non-digestible carbohydrates that we call prebiotics. Prebiotics feed probiotics. They help make conditions in the gut tolerable for probiotics to survive.
Popular prebiotic foods include: asparagus, bananas, garlic, onions, and certain whole grains. They add to our FIBER intake- which also helps our digestion and keeps us regular. (Source)
How to get more enzymes in your stomach
There are some things you can do to increase the enzymes in your stomach.
1. Take your probiotics. As I stated earlier, probiotics and enzymes can work together to help digestion. There are certain bacteria within the gut that are capable of making enzymes. So it is important to take probiotics and/or increase the intake of probiotic rich foods.
2. Thoroughly chew your food. Whenever we eat fast, the digestive enzymes within our mouth (where enzymes start) don’t always have adequate time to break down nutrients. What can then happen is more undigested food going through our digestion track. This in turn can cause discomfort, bloating, etc. Don’t rush through eating. Be slow with it, chew more than you are used to. This will help
3. Actually TAKE your digestive enzymes! If you have your supplements on hand, take them. These are so beneficial for those with gut or digestive issues (which so many cancer patients have.) Alongside, make sure you are eating a balanced diet.
Final thoughts on enzymes and cancer patients
Prior to my cancer diagnosis, I never thought twice about enzymes. When I went through cancer I thought, oh my gosh! Enzymes are so important. I realized how much they could benefit me through that time. I tried a few different enzymes, got off some and on some when I went through Barrett’s Esophagus, and ultimately was really grateful I had done the research to learn about them. They helped me tremendously.
I am someone who believes that food is a big part of healing. Imagine all your food not being properly digested– you could miss out on some really healing nutrients!
If you suspect your digestion or gut health is off, definitely work with your doctor and talk to them about enzymes. It may or may not be particularly helpful for you like it was for me.