Enzymes for Practitioners
I have been in general practice as a naturopathic doctor and licensed acupuncturist for almost 35 years, and one of my practice specialties is functional gastroenterology. Thus I see many people with acute and chronic gastrointestinal issues as well as a variety of other health issues and often incorporate digestive enzymes in the care of my patients to support their digestive health and improve the efficacy of treatment protocols. Because I individualize my treatment approaches as best I can, I try to tailor the type of enzyme product I use to best meet the needs of my patient.
The Role of Digestion
The process of healthy digestion, which involves the complete breakdown of fats, proteins and carbohydrates to smaller molecules which can be absorbed properly in the intestinal tract, is vitally important for both upper GI health as well as lower GI health. Bacteria in the intestines can interact with partially or undigested food to contribute to a number of symptoms including occasional gas or discomfort.
Finding the Proper Solution for Your Patients
For people who have occasional indigestion and are in general good health without evidence of enzyme insufficiency on functional testing, I most often choose the digestive formula Complete Digestion™. I like this formula for people who benefit from digestive enzymes on an occasional basis or just find they help them feel better when taken with meals. I advise them to take a few bites of their meal, take one capsule and continue eating. With holiday and large celebration meals, I may also have them take 2 capsules for better digestive support. I also appreciate that this formula contains probiotics to support intestinal health as well.
For those who do better on more intensive enzyme support or show evidence of pancreatic enzyme insufficiency on testing, I most often choose Critical Digestion™. In many ways this formula is comparable to Complete Digestion but has significantly higher levels of enzymes and probiotics for more intensive digestive support and can reduce the number of capsules needed for regular use. It also contains 8x the amount of probiotic support compared to Complete Digestion.
Intolerance Complex™ combines general digestive enzyme support with compounds that help people who avoid certain foods such as dairy, gluten and phenols but may be exposed to them when eating out, eating with friends, and other situations where these reactive foods may be hidden or difficult to avoid. I use this formula with patients with sensitivities or who are reactive to foods containing these molecules to allow them more freedom in these situations. It contains lactase for those who have lactose intolerance, DPP-IV for improved digestion of gluten protein, and Alpha-Glactosidase for improved digestion of high FODMAP foods such as beans and cabbage family vegetables.
For people with difficulty digesting fats, have evidence of a need for improved fat absorption, or are on high fat diets like the Keto diet, I most often recommend Lypo Optimize™ to support healthy fat digestion. This formula contains a robust amount of Lipase which helps digest fats more completely and can help manage occasional gas and bloating, plus promote normal regularity, which is often associatd with proper fat digestion and absorption.
Finally, for my patients who primarily deal with occasional heartburn, I frequently recommend Acid Calm™ as a supplementary component of their treatment plan. This formula contains a modest amount digestive enzymes (I may add another enzyme supplement if I feel additional enzyme support is needed), and also includes Zinc carnosine and herbal demulcents that soothe and protect tissues, plus strengthen the stomach mucosal lining to protect upper GI organs from occasional acidity. Contrary to its name, Acid Calm does not reduce stomach acid levels and thus does not inhibit protein digestion and effects on other nutrients such as B12, Calcium and the minerals.
In conclusion, I have found that using Enzyme Science formulas helps me improve my ability to individualize specific treatment protocols with enzyme support which best fit my patients and improve patient outcomes.
Carl Hangee-Bauer, ND, LAc
Clinic Director, San Francisco Natural Medicine