Frequently Asked Questions
1. What are enzymes?
Enzymes are proteins made by cells in our bodies. They are specialized proteins that do work, such as synthesizing chemicals and compounds, rearranging molecules, adding elements to compounds, and breaking down compounds. There are many types of enzymes, and each type does a specific function. For an enzyme to work, it must have access to its substrate, the material upon which an enzyme exerts an action. If no substrate is available to the enzyme, the enzyme performs no function. For example, an enzyme called catalase is present in our blood. Catalase converts hydrogen peroxide to water and oxygen, which is why peroxide bubbles when it is placed on a wound. Since peroxide is not usually in our blood, catalase circulates within the blood, doing nothing until peroxide is introduced into the system. A substrate works as an "on-off" switch for its particular enzyme. Catalase will only be activated in the presence of peroxide and nothing else.
2. How do enzymes work?
Enzymes work as catalysts of biochemical reactions. A catalyst increases or accelerates the rate of a chemical reaction. The thousands of chemical reactions that occur in our body every second could not happen without enzymes to speed up these reactions. For example, a protein can be broken down into amino acids in the lab without the use of an enzyme, but to do so requires extreme temperatures, high pressure, and very strong acids; conditions not compatible with life. Even with these conditions, it requires hours to complete the reaction in the lab. With enzymes, in this case a mixture of proteases, the reaction can be completed within minutes in water at normal temperatures.
Another unique aspect of enzymes is that they are not changed during the reaction, that is, they facilitate the reaction without being destroyed or changed in the process. Because of this, one enzyme molecule could theoretically change an infinite amount of substrate if given an infinite amount of time. Increasing the amount of enzyme decreases the time required for completing the reaction. For example, one molecule of catalase could convert a whole bottle of peroxide to water and oxygen given enough time. If you double the number of catalase molecules, you decrease the time for converting the bottle of peroxide by half.
This is related to enzyme dosing in the following manner: Higher doses of enzyme will result in the reaction reaching the "finish point" faster. Since a meal resides in the stomach from 90 to 180 minutes, the enzymes have that amount of time to do the majority of their work before the food enters the small intestine, where peptides may be absorbed (no peptide absorption occurs in the stomach). Larger meals will require more enzyme to accomplish the task of food breakdown in a given amount of time. This is the applicable message concerning enzyme dosing; getting the proteins broken down in a specified period of time.
The nice thing about enzymes is that if the particular molecule they work on is not present, the enzyme does nothing. If you take the enzyme lactase, and lactose is not present, the lactase has no job and does nothing, except get passed on in the GI tract as food protein.
3. Houston Enzymes offers many enzyme products. Which ones do I need?
Which one product or combination of products you need depends on several factors such as diet and your specific gut metabolism. Refer to our product chart for comparing the different products. Peptizydetm and AFP Peptizydetm are purely proteolytic; they only break down proteins (though there is some amylase activity present as a side activity of one of the enzyme blends). AFP-Peptizydetm is purely proteolytic; it only breaks down proteins (though there is some amylase activity present as a side activity of one of the enzyme blends). Watch video about AFP-Peptizyde.
Zyme Prime contains some proteases, many carbohydrases, and lipase, which will break down proteins, carbohydrates, and fats, respectively. The enzymes will insure bioavailability of all the nutrition in food, especially important for light eaters. The protease activity in Zyme Prime is not nearly as great as in Peptizydetm, so you can customize your enzyme needs to your particular diet. Watch video about Zyme Prime.
No-Fenol is primarily for those with intolerances to the polyphenolic nature of some fruits and vegetables, and in supporting the environment for normal flora within the intestinal tract. Watch video about No-Fenol.
ZyCarb is targeted to carbs and is similar to Zyme Prime - but less likely to firm stools. Watch video about ZyCarb.
LypaZyme has 3 types of lipases for breaking down triglyceride fats into fatty acids. Watch video about LypaZyme.
TriEnza is our broad-spectrum enzyme product that combines enzymes from AFP-Peptizyde, Zyme Prime and No-Fenol. Watch video about TriEnza.
4. What enzymes are in Houston Enzymes products?
AFP-Peptizydetm contains a blend of proteases, and peptidases. All are types of proteases, which function to break down proteins. Protease and peptidase are obtained from controlled growth of a fungus, Aspergillus oryzae. No fruit-derived enzymes are present. Watch video about AFP-Peptizyde.
Zyme Prime contains 9 enzymes, and is primarily oriented towards the breakdown of carbohydrates and fats. Zyme Prime contains amylase and glucoamylase which help with starches; lactase which breaks down lactose, a milk sugar; and galactosidase, which breaks down raffinose and stachyose, hard-to-digest carbs found in vegetables such as beans and cruciferous vegetables. Lactase helps decrease gas production caused by fermentation of these carbs. Lipase is included to help with triglyceride fat digestion. Watch video about Zyme Prime.
No-Fenol contains xylanase, cellulases, phytase, and beta-glucanase in a blend called CereCalasetm. These enzymes are helpful in solubilizing plant fiber and the components that make up plant cell walls. No fruit-derived enzymes are present. No-Fenol will not offer much help with food proteins. Watch video about No-Fenol.
ZyCarb is similar to Zyme Prime but was designed to have less effect on stool firming. Watch video about ZyCarb.
TriEnza is a combination of AFP-Peptizyde, Zyme Prime and No-Fenol. Note that 2 capsules are the recommended dosing size for TriEnza while 1 capsule is recommended for the other products. Watch video about TriEnza.
Lypazyme contains a blend of lipases from fungal sources. Lipases are enzymes that break down triglyceride fats into fatty acids. Watch video about Lypazyme.
5. Is No-Fenol dangerous? I read something on the Internet that concerned me.
No-Fenol is not dangerous. The article you read was written by someone who knew nothing about the product, other than the name; and assumed wrongly about how it works. The person making those statements is not an enzymologist, and knows little about how enzymes work. An abundance of safety studies on a number of plant-based enzymes indicates no toxicity or harm at any dose, so you can be assured that no harm will result from taking an enzyme product.
6. Is there fungus in the Houston enzymes?
NO! The enzymes derived from fungal sources have been purified using from 8 to 12 different methods of purification. No fungal matter is present in the enzyme product. If you have a known allergy to fungal proteins, then caution should be used in taking any fungal-derived enzyme product, however, the allergenic portions of the fungi are usually those parts removed from the enzymes during processing.
7. Can proteases be dangerous?
Used appropriately, these enzymes pose no danger to the consumer. The biggest problem with enzymes is the inhalation of enzyme dust, or getting large quantities on one's skin, which, in both circumstances can cause irritation, itching, and discomfort. Those in enzyme manufacturing where large amounts of enzyme powder may be contacted need to take measures to limit skin contact and inhalation of enzyme dust. This is why we add MCT oil to some of our products. MCT oil keeps the powder from becoming air-born. With any supplement, one should start with a small amount just in case an allergic reaction occurs. ALWAYS ASK FOR SAMPLES OF PRODUCTS FIRST, AS MANY COMPANIES WON'T REFUND IF YOU FIND OUT YOU ARE ALLERGIC.
8. Can I use Houston enzymes with other supplements and medications?
For the vast majority of medications, yes; with the exception of certain time-released medications that use cellulose as part of the time-release mechanism. It may be possible that enzyme products containing CELLULASE or Beta-glucanase may break down the cellulose, causing more medication to be released. Enzymes will not interact with or be affected by the active ingredient in medications or supplements. This includes anti-depressants, seizure meds, and any other pharmaceutical product. Since these products are designed to withstand the digestive enzymes found in the small intestine, then obviously, they will not be harmed by oral enzymes.
9. I have never used an enzyme product. What can I expect as far as reactions?
Usually there are no adverse reactions. Start with a low dose (about half the recommended dose) to ensure that you have no allergies to the enzymes. Digestive changes may be noticed, such as increased frequency of bowel movements (not diarrhea), less stool being passed, and a possible increase in gas production. All these are usually temporary and should be resolved in a matter of days.
10. Should I only use enzymes if I or my child is on the GFCF (Gluten-Free Casein-Free) diet?
No, it is perfectly fine to use these enzymes even if you aren't following the diet. In fact, it is more important to use enzymes if you are not GFCF, because the enzymes should more thoroughly break down food proteins such as gluten and casein, and decreases the chances of producing peptides such as casomorphin and gluteomorphin. Enzymes can be used by any one as they help support normal digestion.
11. Will I need enzyme products for life?
Firstly, one does not develop any kind of dependence for enzyme products. Studies have shown little or no effect on pancreatic enzyme production in humans with long-term oral enzyme administration. Secondly, enzyme products may not necessarily be required for life. Some who have used Peptizyde and HN-Zyme Prime consistently for several months have noted that they often tolerate foods that previously caused problems, even without taking the enzymes. Thirdly, many people have made enzymes the mainstay of their diet for years. Enzymes provide help with digestion, and as we age, problems with food tolerance may increase, such as becoming lactose intolerant. Taking enzymes will often help such intolerances.
12. But I am already on the GFCF diet, do I still need enzymes?
In the opinion of many, yes. Sources of exorphins are not completely determined. While we know that gluten, casein, and possibly soy produce exorphins when exposed to pancreatic enzymes, there may be other sources that have not been identified. Soy produces peptides called soymorphins. Even spinach leaves produce opiate-like peptides. It is known that breakdown of hemoglobin, from within the body, or through eating meat not well drained of blood, is a source of hemorphins, which produce the same effects as exorphins. This may explain why some do not see much improvement with the diet; sources of exorphin production from within (normal breakdown of red blood cells, yeast, bacteria (good and bad) may be contributing to the exorphin load.
13. Can I use enzymes as an alternative to the GFCF diet?
Some have wondered whether enzyme products such as AFP-Peptizyde are meant to replace the GFCF (Gluten-Free Casein-Free) diet. After much feedback from parents on the use of these products, the answer now is: "Definitely" for some, and "quite possibly" for many others.
We believe that these enzyme products can produce as good, or even better results, than the GFCF diet. It is not the position of Houston Enzymes to detract from the usefulness of the GFCF diet. We feel that high-quality enzyme products such as AFP-Peptizydetm are meant to achieve the same purpose as that of the diet: to reduce the amount of exorphin peptides produced from diet. Based on well-characterized mechanisms of enzyme actions, one may assume that supplementation of the GFCF diet with AFP-Peptizydetm helps to not only reduce or inhibit the production of exorphins from food proteins, but supports digestion, insures complete degradation of food proteins, and increases bioavailability of food proteins.We are committed to the advancement of effective enzyme products as an eventual proven and safe alternative to the GFCF diet. Due to the established safety and non-toxicity of enzyme-containing supplements, Houston Enzymes is of the opinion that parents have the right to try any and all means to better the lives of their children and their family. As the wheels of science often turn slowly, parents should have the option to try safe alternatives to the GFCF diet. It is our opinion that sufficient historical, anecdotal, and scientific evidence is present from the use of hundreds of enzyme products to justify such experimentation in a prudent and responsible manner, and should be allowed without repercussion or harsh judgment put upon those who try.
Houston Enzymes is neither for nor against the diet, but rather for a resolution of the dietary problems faced by many families.
14. Aren't enzymes taken orally destroyed by stomach acid or the body's own enzymes?
Most other enzymes taken orally, including those made from pig pancreas extracts, are inactivated by the low pH of stomach acid. Fungal enzymes, however, are acid-resistant, having activity at pH as low as 2.0 and as high as 10. Fungal plants use their enzymes to break down and digest plant material that they grow upon. Since the site of fungal growth in nature can vary, the fungus has evolved enzyme systems that allow the plant to grow under a variety of conditions, including differences in pH. Pancreatic enzymes are designed to work under a much narrow range of pH, since its environment is more controlled. Pancreatic enzymes available as prescription drugs must be enterically coated to provide resistance to acidity.
15. Won't enzymes digest the proteins of my mouth, stomach, or intestine?
NO! These enzymes much prefer the denatured (cooked, or exposed to stomach acid) proteins found in foods. Most proteins, in their natured state, are coiled and globular in structure, preventing access to cleavage sites of the enzyme. When heated or in extremes of pH (like stomach acid), the proteins uncoil, exposing sites where the enzyme can bind and cleave. Also, the cells of our bodies and the mucus lining the gastrointestinal tract contain protease inhibitors that inactivate protease enzymes. In addition, the mucus acts as a physical barrier to proteolytic activity on living cells. Remember, the pancreas exposes your small intestine to a barrage of enzymes every time you eat, and the enzymes don't break down the intestine. Some report irritation of the mouth if enzyme powder remains on the cheeks or gums for a prolonged time. This is similar to what happens when one eats raw pineapple (a source of the protease bromelain) and gets sores in the mouth. A layer of dead cells covers our mouth and throat (the whitish-colored layer). Enzymes left in the mouth can start to break down this layer of dead skin, and when the fresh, raw layer of tissue is exposed to saliva, irritation can sometimes be felt. Just be sure if you open a capsule to mix it with food, that you eat additional food or drink a beverage afterwards to ensure the entire enzyme is cleared from the mouth and throat.
16. Can I become dependent taking oral enzymes? Will the pancreas stop functioning if I take enzymes for a long time?
No. Pancreatic enzyme secretion is due to hormonal signals resulting from mechanical stretching of the stomach wall as food enters as well as from the act of chewing, tasting and smelling food. Research has shown some adaptability of the pancreas in animals; giving oral enzymes resulted in a slight decrease in pancreatic enzyme output that quickly returned to normal once enzymes were stopped.
17. What about dosing? How much do I need to give my child? Is the dosing the same in adults?
We recommend starting with one (1) capsule of most of our enzymes per significant meal, meaning not giving the products with light snacks (unless the snack has casein or gluten!), and giving more if no improvement is noticed. TriEnza is typically dosed 2 capsules per meal. There is no upper limit to dosing, and no toxicity associated with enzymes. Dosing should be by size of meal, not body weight, since the enzymes are contained within the intestinal tract, and do not appreciably distribute to other areas of the body. Those eating a small meal (such as young children) may find a half-dose is enough. Feel free to experiment with dosing to find the level that best suits one's individual needs. No-Fenol may be one of the few enzyme products that need only be given once or twice a day, or 1/3 to 1/2 capsule per meal. The enzymes in No-Fenol appear to be long-lasting, and given the fact that they are not working on proteins, may provide longer activity per dose than other enzyme products. Also, remember that TriEnza requires 2 capsules to get the same activity found in 1 AFP Peptizyde, 1 Zyme Prime, and 1/2 No-Fenol capsule.
18. When is the best time for giving the enzymes?
Give enzymes with the first few bites of the meal or just prior to mealtime. But more important is to take the enzyme, if not at the beginning, then during or after eating. Food stays in the stomach for up to 3 hours, therefore, introducing enzymes anytime during the meal will still provide benefits.
If one is a "grazer", that is, eats constantly during the day, you may wish to give the enzymes at fixed dosing intervals, such as every 4 or 5 hours during the day.
Giving enzymes with snacks is a judgment call. Obviously, if the snack is wheat or dairy, then giving AFP-Peptizyde would be helpful. Other types of snack may not require the additional enzyme dosing.
For maximum dosing, it is doubtful that more than 3 AFP-Peptizydes, or more than 4 Zyme Primes, will provide any additional help in breaking down the foods of an average meal.
19. I took an enzyme, but didn't eat. Is this harmful?
No, the enzymes only work on food. Since enzymes are protein, the body will eventually process the enzymes as any other food protein. Many take high doses of enzyme products on an empty stomach to facilitate systemic enzyme uptake, that is, the uptake of enzymes into the circulation. To do this requires large amounts of enzyme, as only a small fraction of the enzyme is absorbed.
20. How can I give the enzymes with my child's school lunch?
Often you can work with the school to arrange supplementation. If not, you may try mixing the enzymes into a cold drink in a thermos and adding ice cubes to keep it cold. The cooler (even frozen) you keep an enzyme, the longer it lasts. This is important because enzymes become activated and then start losing their activity once put into a liquid solution.
21. My child won't swallow capsules. Can I sprinkle the enzymes on her food?
Yes. The enzymes will mix with food or beverages, although it may tend to clump. The enzymes have a mild taste, which can be easily masked with fruit juice, ketchup, etc. Please be careful to not inhale the enzyme powder, and to clear any residual enzyme powder from the mouth and throat area with additional food or beverage.
22. Is it safe to take probiotics and enzymes together?
Many people wonder whether high-protease enzyme products could damage or inactivate probiotics. Should one take enzymes and probiotics at the same time? I see no reason why they can't be taken together. The probiotics you take are basically freeze-dried bacteria. Once the capsule dissolves and the powder dissolves in stomach fluid, the bacteria re-hydrate and can then start multiplying. Since protease enzymes MUCH prefer to use "dead" or denatured protein (denaturing is what happens when the protein you eat contacts the acid in your stomach), the live bacteria will most likely escape harm from proteases. The real danger to probiotics is stomach acid. Bacteria don't live very long in acid environments. Some probiotics are treated (or the capsule is treated) to protect the bacteria from contacting the acid. Once out in the gut, the bacteria can thrive and grow.
Consider this as well: the pancreatic duct shoots out a lot of protease enzyme every time the stomach empties and there are peptidase enzymes produced by the cells in the wall of the GI tract. Probiotic bacteria are in constant contact with these enzymes while in the gut. Therefore, it is perfectly natural for probiotic bacteria and protease enzymes to be together.
23. How exactly do lipase enzymes work?
Lipase works by clipping off the long-chain fatty acids connected to a glycerol backbone that comprises the structure of triglyceride lipids. Removing the fatty acids from the glycerol enables better processing of the fatty acid chains into short-chain fatty acids.
24. Will Lypazyme help me lose weight?
No. Lypazyme only breaks down triglycerides so that normal processing of healthy fats can occur.