Can Digestive Enzymes Help When You Are Constipated? 2


That helpful salesperson at the supplements counter may tell you that digestive enzymes will act as a kind of Roto-Rooter to remove clogged fecal matter that is keeping you irregular, and that you should spend ten times as much on enzymes as you spend on fiber to get results fast. Digestive enzymes actually do help some cases of constipation, and an enzyme called serratiopeptidase is likely to do the most good.

Sometimes the root cause of constipation is a condition called small intestine bacterial overgrowth. The duodenum, the stretch of the small intestine into which the stomach empties, is ordinarily relatively uninhabited. It contains “just” 10,000 bacteria in every milliliter of digested food. When constipation slows down the passage of food through the small intestine and colon below it, however, these bacteria can begin to multiply.

In severe constipation, bacteria can form a film over the lining of the small intestine. It is less able to absorb vitamins and minerals. If this film of bacteria grows into the colon, it is less able to absorb fats and amino acids and it cannot send bile salts back to the liver for recycling. Without bile salts, fat begins to clump in the large intestine. It forms especially foul-smelling floating stools. And because bacteria block the flow of fluids, the stool becomes dryer and harder to pass.

The digestive enzyme serratiopeptidase can break up the “glue” that holds bacterial biofilms to the lining of the intestines. Sometimes taking the enzyme yields remarkable results. There can a quick loss of weight—sometimes up to 20 pounds—as impacted stool is finally passed in bowel movement. The ability to absorb more nutrients can result in renewed energy. And removing the biofilm can also relieve abdominal pain, bloating, flatulence, and heartburn.

The people who are most likely to benefit from serratiopeptidase are those who have peptic ulcer disease (which actually reduces stomach acid production) and regular users of antacids and medications for gastroesophageal disease. Enzymes are completely compatible with juicing.  Just take the digestive enzyme before taking prune or pear juice for the initial cleanse, and use for up to two weeks while getting constipation under control. It's OK to take both probiotics and digestive enzymes at the same time, since probiotics do not form the kind of toxic biofilm that causes constipation problems.

Diabetics tend to get constipated because of damage to the vagus nerve, which times the movement of digested food through the digestive tract. If you have diabetes, you may benefit by also taking bromelain and/or papain just before every meal. These fruit enzymes help the stomach digest proteins and reduce the pressure and bloating that make the discomfort of constipation so much worse.

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About Andy Williams

In a processed food culture, simply eating may not be enough. Andy Williams, B.SC., Ph.D. is a scientist with a strong interest in Juicing and how it can supply the body with the nutrients it needs to thrive in modern society. You can subscribe to his free daily paper called Juicing The Rainbow and follow him on Facebook orTwitter. You can also follow me on Google +


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2 thoughts on “Can Digestive Enzymes Help When You Are Constipated?

  • Jerilee

    My 2 year old son has Hirschsprung disease. Every doctor has only given us one option, surgery. I have read nearly everything there is to read about the disease on the internet in hopes of finding some assurance that surgery will in fact help him. I have heard about the miracles that juicing has given others and have decided to give it my best to get my son on a regular juicing diet. I have had to help him have BMs since birth with very few, short time periods when he would go all on his own. When he was smaller I stimulated his rectum and helped him go that way. But since he has grown he does not allow me to do that anymore without a fight, and I don’t blame him. I have been giving him enemas weekly, but recently have had to do them daily since this is the longest stretch he has not had a bm. Hirschsprung is the lack of cells in a portion of the large intestine…my theory is, What if I can pump raw juice into him regularly and possibly replace the missing cells? Sounds crazy and far-fetched, but we’ve made it this far without surgery and he is a happy and healthy kid, besides his inability to have a bm. As long as waste is coming out and he is still eating…I am determined to try everything I can before I sign his life away to surgery, which does not guarantee a thing. And it may even make his condition worse than it is now. I have been searching for anyone who may know something about this disease and has not had surgery. Just to add, the Docs think my son has a mild form of the disease. The exact amount of bad intestine is unknown, but they believe it must be a small portion since he is still doing okay without the surgery. Honestly, every time we meet a new GI doctor they are astonished at my son’s health. They expect him to be sickly, skinny, and weak and are nearly in shock that we have managed to keep him healthy this long.

    • Andy Williams

      Hi Jerilee
      I am really sorry to hear about your son’s condition. It isn’t something I have heard of before. As a parent myself, I know the feeling of wanting to protect them. Our doctors told us that our 3 year old needed an operation on his ears, but the risk of complications was unacceptable to us. We went with a natural treatment instead, and so far so good. I wish you luck with your son and hope that juicing will help him. It is an excellent way to get high quality nutrition.