Very insightful article by my acquaintance and professional colleague Dr. Christine Doherty.  Dr. Doherty is based in Boston and has done extensive work in naturopathic wellness, particularly with patients who suffer food sensitivities and Celiac’s disease.  Please let me know if I can help any of my New England friends to make an appointment with her. 

Stay healthy!

Dr. Francis
(212) 888-9116


Enzymes are specialized molecules made by our bodies. There are thought to be approximately 75,000 enzymes in the human body. Enzymes are complex proteins that are generally thought to work in a “lock and key” fashion, meaning every enzyme (key) fits a specific substrate or ”lock”.  When enzymes come in contact with their substrate they facilitates some kind of change in the state of the substrate, changing it in to something that is more useable for our bodies.  If enzymes didn’t facilitate the quick changing of these molecules, the reactions would happen too slowly to support human life.

There are two main types of enzymes: digestive and metabolic.  If you are missing even one enzyme you can wind up with a serious disease.  One of the best-known enzyme deficiencies causes lactose intolerance, a deficiency in the enzyme lactase, which breaks down lactose, the sugar found in dairy. Lactose intolerance is a common deficiency in celiacs, as many of the digestive enzymes are made at the tips of the intestinal lining, called the villi. Celiac disease damages the villi leading to multiple chronic digestive enzyme deficiencies, some that recover when the gluten is removed and the villi heal, some that don’t. Two of the most commonly recognized brands of digestive enzymes that have been used over the counter for decades are Beano and Lactaid.

Digestive enzymes also play a role in the absorption of nutrients, especially fat soluble ones. If someone has an enzyme deficiency, or insufficiency they will respond within a day or two of beginning the supplements. When taken with food, they act like little scissors that break down those large molecules in to their individual components so that we can absorb and re-use those building blocks for our own bodies. Symptoms that can be caused by a lack of digestive enzymes include gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation and abdominal pain.

Enzyme therapy can be a powerful ally in aiding optimal digestion and renewed vitality. They are safe, can work quickly and are inexpensive. They have been a foundation in my clinical practice for the last decade. I hope they can enhance your well-being too.

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