Digestive Enzyme Deficiency & Disorder Treatment in Chapel Hill, NC
The body uses digestive enzymes to help break down and digest food. Digestive enzyme deficiencies or disorders may cause symptoms like stomach pain and indigestion. Some healthcare providers believe that over-the-counter enzyme supplements might be able to treat these conditions and relieve symptoms. Prescription pancreatic enzyme products are also available, and are used to treat conditions like cystic fibrosis. To learn more about digestive enzyme deficiency and disorder treatment in Chapel Hill, call (919) 301-0841 or contact Family Wellness Clinic & Regenesis MD online.
What Are Digestive Enzymes?
Digestive enzymes primarily act as agents that increase the rates of chemical reactions (catalysts); specifically, they speed up specific, life-preserving chemical reactions in the body. Digestive enzymes help to break down bigger nutrient molecules into smaller ones, so that they can be better absorbed into the body through the finger-like structures called villi that line the small intestines.
The main digestive enzymes are:
- Proteases that digest proteins
- Lipases that digest fats
- Amylases that digest carbohydrates
While the majority of naturally-produced enzymes are created in the pancreas, the mouth, liver, gallbladder, stomach, and upper part of the small intestine (duodenum) also make enzymes. Digestive enzymes can also be found in certain foods, such as bananas and sauerkraut.
Digestive Enzymes Deficiency Causes
Enzyme deficiency causes may include a number of diseases and conditions, such as:
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Cystic fibrosis
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Liver disease
- Chronic stress
- Crohn's disease and celiac disease
Symptoms of a digestive enzyme disorder may include:
- Feeling gassy or bloated
- Quickly becoming full when eating
- Stomach pain or indigestion
- Inability to pass solid waste
- Pale or floating stool
If you are suffering from these symptoms, schedule a formal screening with your healthcare provider. They can perform an enzyme deficiency blood test, or take samples of your saliva or stool.
OTC and Prescription Digestive Enzyme Supplements
Digestive enzyme supplements are available over-the-counter (OTC) or by prescription. Some common OTC enzyme supplements include:
- Bromelain: Derived from the stem and pulp of pineapples, this may be able to reduce symptoms of indigestion and inflammation caused by injuries
- Lipase: Derived from plants like avocados and walnuts, this enzyme may reduce symptoms of gas and bloating
- Papain: Created from the papaya fruit, this may be useful in aiding digestion
- Lactase: This enzyme helps the body digest the sugar lactose, found in dairy products
As the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate OTC digestive enzyme supplements, more research is needed to confirm most, if not all, of these OTC enzyme benefits. The only FDA-approved oral prescription digestive enzymes are available as pancreatic enzyme products (PEPs). PEPs are used to treat conditions like cystic fibrosis or chronic pancreatitis (long-time swelling of the pancreas), which can prevent one's pancreas from creating enough pancreatic enzymes for healthy digestion.
FDA-approved PEPs are:
Some healthcare professionals believe that you can reap the digestive benefits of enzymes by adding more enzyme-rich foods to your diet, such as:
- Fruit like bananas, pineapples, and kiwi
- Fermented foods like kefir, kimchi, and sauerkraut
- Soy sauce
A healthcare professional can help you decide what supplementation method is best for you, what dose you should take, and how best to take it.
Digestive Enzyme Supplements and IBS
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a chronic condition that affects the large intestine. Some healthcare providers believe that OTC or prescription enzyme supplements can relieve symptoms of IBS, such as abdominal pain and diarrhea. These supplements are often recommended in cases where other treatment options for IBS have proven unsuccessful. One study suggests that taking a PEP after meals may relieve symptoms of diarrhea, while another study suggests that biointol − a combination of digestive enzymes and soluble fibers - may reduce stomach discomfort, gas, and bloating. Despite these studies, there is still an insufficient amount of evidence to suggest that digestive enzyme supplements can effectively treat IBS.
Side Effects of Digestive Enzyme Supplements
Possible side effects of taking OTC or prescription supplements may include:
- Stomach pain
- Nausea or vomiting
- Flatulence caused by excess gas
- Intestinal pain
Talk with your healthcare provider if any of these side effects cause you serious discomfort, or do not subside either as you continue taking the supplement or after you stop taking it.
It takes about 1-2 weeks to adjust to a new PEP, so always take your PEP as prescribed by your health provider. Seek emergency medical help if you experience these symptoms of an allergic reaction to a PEP:
- Difficulty breathing or talking; wheezing
- Swelling of the mouth, face, lips, tongue, or throat
- Rash or hives; itching
- Red, swollen, blistered, or peeling skin
Patients who are pregnant should avoid enzyme supplements, as the effects on their fetuses have not been well-researched. Medications like antacids that contain calcium or magnesium react poorly with digestive enzyme supplements, so tell your healthcare provider of any medication you are taking before beginning supplements.
Request Your Appointment Today!
Whether they be OTC or prescribed by a physician, digestive enzyme supplements may be able to strengthen your digestive system and treat enzyme deficiencies and disorders. To learn where you can find digestive enzyme supplements in Chapel Hill, call (919) 301-0841 or contact Family Wellness Clinic & Regenesis MD online.
Family Wellness Clinic & Regenesis MD
Address8020 Creedmoor Rd
Raleigh, NC 27613