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Enzymes and Credibility


Devin Houston, Ph.D.


What is the "best" enzyme product for you and your family? What criteria do you use to make that judgement? How can you make decisions concerning an enzyme product when you don't understand the concepts or science behind the product?

Enzymes are not the easiest topic to understand, which probably explains why enzymes have been used for decades but the public is just now becoming aware of these specialized proteins. Fortunately, public awareness has not always been necessary for the effective use of enzymes. Stains come out of your laundry better, your contact lens are cleaner, and fruit juice concentrate prices are not too outrageous. Enzymes are involved in aspects of all three, but most are oblivious to that fact.

But now, we have products that are sold purely on the basis that they are enzymes. Even more important, these products are given to children. As with any good and effective product, imitations invariably follow, so the public must weigh the claims and marketing of those companies clamoring for your attention. How do you understand and evaluate what they say to you?

My suggestion is to evaluate the credibility and visibility of the person, not necessarily the company (except for Houston Enzymes, because the person IS the company), who developed the products. Is his/her educational background valid? Are his/her accomplishments verifiable? In the dietary supplement industry, many exaggerate their educational achievements (is their Ph.D. degree really one in which a hypothesis was formed, tested, and the degree granted by an accredited university?) to lend an air of credibility. This industry, unlike the pharmaceutical industry, is somewhat less rigid in the requirements for effective employment.

Even if a person has an advanced degree, was their field of study appropriate to the product being developed and pitched by the company? A Ph.D. in chemical engineering, as an example, does not usually entail an understanding of enzymology. Even obtaining a Ph.D. in biochemistry, as I have, may not give one the right to claim sufficient knowledge of enzymology such that you would trust the product developed to be effective for your child. The area of research expertise is vitally important. I have been through 2 years of medical school coursework and worked in teaching hospitals, but I can assure you, you don't want me performing surgery on you.

I have studied enzymes for over 20 years, beginning as a graduate student at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine, and continuing through my post-doctoral and faculty positions. My graduate professor, Dr. Roger Lane, is an enzymologist and is still on staff at USA. After my academic research career, I still studied enzymes as the Research and Development Manager at National Enzyme Company.

I have purified enzymes and other co-factors from cow brains, hearts, and other gross stuff. I have developed assays to detect enzymes, and improved on other existing methods to analyze the functions of enzymes. I have taught med students about enzymes (as if they were listening!), and have published my findings in high-ranking peer reviewed scientific journals. My publications contained actual lab data obtained under controlled conditions. They were not "thought experiments" or theory which you see published in journals such as Medical Hypotheses (read the mission statement of that journal for a good indication of why that journal was established).

I can derive the Michalis-Menton equation for you, and tell you the difference between a Lineweaver-Burk plot and an Eadie-Hofstee plot. Or describe the 3 types of inhibition affecting enzymes. But you really wouldn't be interested, except for the fact that it is knowledge I possess.

Why would the above be important to you? It is important, because more than just a basic understanding of enzymes is needed to develop the kind of formulas that will work effectively and safely. It is all well and good to have lawyers and psychologists, and they do have a place in this world, but I would not trust them to understand enzymes well enough to produce an effective formulation. To be fair, I wouldn't trust myself to practice law or psychoanalyze, so I won't; and I'd feel better if those other types don't try to sell enzymes!

Credibility is all we have in the end. You have to trust me that what I know is valid and will result in something helpful for your family. Thousands have already done so, and are very glad they did. I will give you as much information as you feel you need to make you comfortable taking HNI products. If I can't teach you enough about enzymes that you can talk sensibly about them to your neighbor (because that's what I'm counting on) then I have failed.

It is my responsibility to teach you, and through such, I gain credibility.