Proteases, or proteolytic enzymes are specific for protein digestion. Simply put, protease enzymes break down proteins, be they undigested proteins in the digestive system, cellular debris or toxins in the blood. Some proteolytic enzymes work specifically in the bloodstream to support metabolic reactions like healthy cellular repair and immunity, sparking the chemical reactions required to sustain life. The body employs protease enzymes to break down foreign invaders such as bacteria, yeasts, and viruses.
Research has shown that oral proteases, taken as a dietary supplement on an empty stomach may aid our immune system in ways other supplements can’t. These supplemental enzymes are absorbed and carried into the blood stream where they are bound to plasma proteins. The oral proteases bind to these plasma proteins and then are able to break down protein-based pathogens in the blood. An interesting attribute of protease enzymes is that while they are able to dissolve almost all proteins, this only applies to proteins that are not components of living cells. For protease to digest a protein it must be damaged, attached to a dead organism, or be a protein that does not belong in the body. This instinctively intelligent process explains why proteases will digest proteins found in steak, however leave the protein lining of our stomach unharmed.
Not all proteases, however, can break down all proteins. For instance, one protease in particular has been shown to have a profound effect on mucus. Mucolase is a special enzyme that is classified as proteolytic and mucolytic. Mucolytic enzymes break down excess mucus in the body, including the lungs and sinuses. Other proteolytic enzymes useful for the immune system are nattokinase, catalase and serratiopeptidase (serrapeptase).
When enzymes are used to achieve a therapeutic effect, they are taken on an empty stomach (a half hour before or two hours after a meal). They are not intended to help digest food. Instead they are absorbed into the blood and benefit different systems of the body, such as the immune system, by providing it with essential enzymes to manufacture healthy white blood cells.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration
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