2265 North Clybourn Avenue    Chicago, IL 60614    P: 773.296.6700     F: 773.296.1131

Enzymes for Health and Longevity

Until we got our plumbing overhauled, we’d been experiencing some real problems at WholeHealth Chicago, including clogged toilet drains that had bested some of Chicago’s top plumbers. After power rodding and chemicals, followed by actual pipe replacement, in the end we got everything working and didn’t have to send patients to the carwash next door to pee.

In retrospect, we probably should have used an enzyme mixture for preventive maintenance: no corrosive chemicals, no pushing away blockages, no plumbing surgery, just bacterial enzymes like these, cleaning out our pipes slowly but efficiently.

Interestingly and not unlike our toilet system, much of your own body can benefit from enzymes both for preventive maintenance and as ancillary treatments for chronic disease.

What exactly are enzymes and why do we need them?
Enzymes are proteins, which, if you remember from high school biology, are strings of amino acids. Some of these amino acids your body itself can generate (called non-essential amino acids), while others you need to get from food sources (essential amino acids).

Enzymes are very specific proteins manufactured by our bodies. To date, some 5,000 enzymes have been identified. They act as biological catalysts–molecules that accelerate any of the body’s millions of chemical reactions.

When enzyme levels decline, as they do when we get older and during chronic illness, everything slows down and, not unlike our plumbing, becomes less and less efficient.

Your digestion slows, your arteries clog, your immune system gets lazy, and you start to feel inflamed and achy. You’re getting older (sorry).

Let me give you a common, classic example of enzyme activity that even the most conventional physicians agree on. Many people experience chronic indigestion from dairy products and if they avoid dairy, they’re fine. What they’re lacking is adequate amounts of the enzyme lactase, needed to act on the milk sugar lactose. This group is lactose intolerant.

As a rule of thumb, you can recognize when a molecule is an enzyme because it ends in -ase. An enzyme acting as a catalyst on a protein (like meat) is a protease, on a fat (lipid), lipase, and on a starch, amylase (amylum is Latin for starch).

One of the major flaws of gastroenterology is that doctors reach first for medications to suppress acid, in the process suppressing digestion, rather than first recommending digestive enzymes (with probiotics). Click here and here for two of the most frequently prescribed digestive enzymes at WholeHealth Chicago.

Fairly sophisticated blends of enzymes can be taken by mouth because they’re manufactured with a coating that prevents them from being immediately dissolved in your digestive tract. This is so they can last longer and be absorbed into your bloodstream. You’ve already got lots and lots of enzymes throughout your body, but as I mentioned, their levels decline as you age.

Why supplement?
Here are some good reasons for supplementing with absorbable enzymes:
–Enzymes act as molecules called chelators, which can remove toxic metals from your body.
–Enzymes can dissolve certain immune complexes, called biofilms, that coat and protect chronic infections. New treatments for infections like Lyme disease include biofilm-blasting enzymes.
–Certain chronic conditions (including fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, cancer, and autoimmune diseases) are associated with excessive blood coagulation and/or increased levels of inflammation. Systemic enzymes have been shown to reduce these.

Here’s an excellent anti-inflammatory enzyme.

Enzymes have been shown to dissolve accumulated plaque in the arteries. It’s been fairly standard to include oral enzymes during IV chelation therapies. Here’s a link to the well-known protocol of Garry Gordon, MD, DO. The two products he recommends–Wobenzym N and Rutozyme–are available on special order in our apothecary.

Enzymes and cancer
Many studies have shown that a variety of enzymes can be an effective adjunct to cancer treatment. A protein called fibrin actually coats the cancer cell and hides it from the immune system, which is attempting to destroy it. Proteolytic (protein-dissolving) enzymes destroy this fibrin covering and have been shown to be useful in slowing cancer progression.

Here’s just one of many research articles, this one from Memorial Sloan Kettering on using Bromelain (an enzyme from pineapple) as an adjunct to cancer treatment.

One of the most widely known cancer-fighting enzymes is lumbrokinase, well studied in China and used for both cancer and circulation issues.

Enzymes are complicated but very interesting. If you want to learn more about them, I suggest two very readable books by Hiromi Shinya, MD, a high-profile New York-based gastroenterologist known for his pioneering work in colonoscopy. Here’s a link to The Enzyme Factor: How To Live Long and Never Be Sick. And one to The Rejuvenation Enzyme: Reverse Aging Revitalize Cells, Restore Vigor.

Be well,
David Edelberg, MD

Leave a Comment

  1. Kelly says:

    Has WholeHealth Chicago worked with proteolytic enzymes to reduce or eliminate uterine fibroids? I’ve read about Vitalzym, Zymessence, Fibrenza, Fibrovera, and others but am hesitant to try them on my own. I recently emulated a study on using green tea extract to reduce uterine fibroids, but it may not be enough for my needs (study https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3742155/). I’m now considering proteolytic enzymes again, but I’m concerned about the safety, effectiveness, and duration of taking enzymes supplements for this purpose. Any thoughts you have on this topic are most appreciated!

  2. Dr E says:

    Enzymes are very safe and the product Fibrenza (available online) is probably worth a try along with Green Tea Extract (one capsule twice a day)

    • Kelly says:

      Thank you for your reply, Dr. Edleberg! I’m going to try the enzymes (in addition to the Pure Encapsulations green tea extract I’m already taking). I’m trying to avoid a hysterectomy as I believe I’m better off with all my original parts in tact. That said, the fibroid may be interfering with my adductor muscle function. I have a cascade of musculo-skeletal issues, and while it’s difficult to know cause and effect for certain, the fibroid is at least a complicating factor. For that reason, I’m on a mission to eliminate it!

  3. Tamra Hartwig says:

    Hello Dr. Edelberg, I read with interest this article regarding enzymes for regeneration. I’m faced with severe tooth gum pain and have been referred to Endodontics for surgery & root canals… I would prefer NOT to & would like to know what you would do in my shoes ( well, outside of you probably never having the infection in the first place?)
    Thank you very much-

  4. Tamra Hartwig says:

    Oh, as an addendum to the above post, I went to a homeopathic practitioner who gave me a scan & determined the infection in the teeth/gums was strep, not staph if that helps or matters, again Thank you

    • cliffmaurer says:

      Hi Tamara,
      Thank you for your comment, and it sounds like you’ve been going through quite a lot with this. Cases like yours really require some additional information and it’s best to go through your history and symptoms with one of our functional medicine practitioners. Please consider scheduling a telemedicine consultation with any functional medicine practitioner who has availability. They’ll be over to go through some options with you. A telemedicine consultation can be scheduled by calling 773-296-6700.
      Best wishes to you,
      Dr. M

Join our Newsletter

Get health recommendations, delicious and time-saving recipes, medical news, supplement reviews, birthday discounts, and more!

Health Tips

Dr. Edelberg’s Health Tips contain concise bits of advice, medical news, nutritional supplement and pharmaceutical updates, and stress relief ideas. With every Health Tip, you’ll also receive an easy, delicious, and healthful recipe.

When you sign up to receive Health Tips, you can look forward to Dr. Edelberg’s smart and very current observations arriving in your in-box weekly. They’re packed with helpful information and are often slightly irreverent. One of the most common responses to the tips is “I wish my doctor talked to me like this!”

Quick Connect

Get One Click Access to our


The Knowledge Base

Patient education is an integral part of our practice. Here you will find a comprehensive collection of staff articles, descriptions of therapies and nutritional supplements, information addressing your health concerns, and the latest research on nutritional supplements and alternative therapies.

Telemedicine – Now Available at WholeHealth Chicago

In order to maintain your continuity of care, WholeHealth Chicago now offers telemedicine appointments with most of our practitioners. During a telemedicine visit, you and your healthcare provider can review medical history, discuss symptoms, arrange for prescriptions, and more. When necessary, labs and diagnostic imaging can be ordered from a facility near your home, and our Natural Apothecary can ship supplements quickly to your door.

Please contact Patient Services for details and scheduling a telemedicine appointment, or to change a regular appointment to telemedicine by calling 773-296-6700.

We’re looking forward to meeting with you in our virtual consultation room soon.


Far and away, the commonest phone call/e mail I receive asks about COVID-19 diagnosis.
Just print this out, tape it on your refrigerator door, and stay calm.


• Runny nose
• Sneezing
• Red, swollen eyes
• Itchy eyes and nose
• Tickly throat
• No fever

• Runny nose
• Sneezing
• Sore throat
• Mild muscle aches
• Mild dry cough
• Rarely a low fever

• Painful sore throat
• Hurts to swallow
• Swollen glands in neck
• Fever

FLU (Standard seasonal flu)
• Fever
• Dry cough (no mucus)
• Sudden onset over few hours
• Headache
• Sore throat
• Fatigue, sometimes quite severe
• Muscle aches, sometimes quite severe
• Rarely, diarrhea

• Shortness of breath
• Fever (usually above 100 degrees)
• Dry cough (no mucus)
• Slow onset (2-14 days)
• Mild muscle aches
• Mild fatigue
• Mild sneezing

Recent Health Tips

  • No Safe Level: Lead Poisoning and Your Health

    I prefer the term “poisoning” over “toxicity” as there is no acceptably safe level of lead in the human body, just as there is no acceptable level of cyanide or strychnine. Low levels of lead won’t kill you with the swiftness of cyanide, but they will surely damage your health and, critically, that of your children, especially those under six whose physical and mental development Read More

  • Covid Immunization: Facts, Not Fiction

    If you don’t feel like reading one more word about Covid-19, you’ve got my sympathy. However, if you’re inclined, scan this Health Tip and perhaps pick up a fact or two you didn’t know. Want to jump to my take-away? It’s this: When the vaccine is available to you, take it and thank your lucky stars it’s being offered to you. One in four people Read More

  • “I Am So Bloated!”

    Susan wrote this on our WholeHealth Chicago form in the section marked “What’s the main problem?” She went on to tell me she’d been suffering for years, her stomach feeling like some gremlin was inflating a balloon every time she ate. When the bloating was especially severe, she said she looked like she was in her fifth month of pregnancy. Susan was so embarrassed she’d Read More

Join our Discount Program

Member benefits include 10% off all your purchases. Low, one-time membership fee of $25 ($35 for family).


Join our Newsletter

Get health recommendations, recipes, medical news, supplement reviews, birthday discounts, and more!