Systemic Enzymes for Musculoskeletal Health

Systemic enzyme therapy is the use of oral proteolytic enzymes such as trypsin, chymotrypsin, papain, and bromelain taken on an empty stomach. Since stomach acid can destroy proteolytic enzymes, the best formulas are “enteric coated” tablets or “delayed release” capsules. Enteric-coating means that the pills have a coating around them to prevent the pill from being broken down in the stomach. “Delayed release” vegetarian capsules use natural dietary fibers that also resist stomach acid to provide targeted delivery of the enzymes to the upper small intestine. Clinical research, anecdotal evidence, and a long history of use has shown that proteolytic enzymes can systemically support circulation, healthy inflammatory response, and recovery of the musculoskeletal system after overexertion.*

Several studies have shown that proteolytic enzymes can help support muscle recovery after exercise.* A 2009 study published in the Journal of International Society of Sports Nutrition demonstrated efficacy with a product that contained proteolytic enzymes combined with curcumin.* A 2004 study published in the Journal of Sports Science demonstrated that proteolytic enzymes reduced muscle soreness after downhill running.*

Several randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials have shown that systemic enzyme therapy can help support healthy joint function.* This includes a 2015 study published in the journal Arthritis, a 2004 review of clinical studies published in Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, and a 2004 trial published in Clinical Rheumatology.

A 2018 randomized double-blind controlled trial published in the Journal of Phlebology and Lymphology using systemic enzymes in people needing extra vein support demonstrated that the supplemental enzymes were “safe and effective.”

When proteolytic enzymes are given on an empty stomach, they can systemically support the musculoskeletal system on many levels.* There are several high-quality systemic enzyme supplements presently available for integrative practitioners to choose from for specific musculoskeletal applications.

Herbal Cartilage and Joint Support with Boswellia

Boswellia serrata (Boswellia), also known as Indian Frankincense, is a moderate-sized tree native to India, Northern Africa and the Middle East. Boswellia is an herb that is commonly used in Ayurveda. Resins from Boswellia trees have been used since ancient times to support joints as well as other health concerns. The boswellic acids from the resin of the trees have been shown to specifically support a healthy inflammatory response in joints following exercise or occasional overexertion.* Research has confirmed that Boswellia can suppress leukotriene synthesis by influencing the 5-lipoxygenase pathway, which helps support healthy cartilage.*

A 2018 review published in the Indian Journal of Pain concluded that a product containing Boswellia helped support cartilage structure and joint function.* This is consistent with a 2013 randomized, double-blind, controlled trial involving 440 study participants that was published in the journal Rheumatology. In that 2013 trial, overall knee function was improved.* A 2016 review published in Advances in Pharmacological Sciences also showed that Boswellia supported joint function.* A 2018 review published in the Journal of Clinical Orthopaedics and Trauma featured Boswellia as one of the top 10 nutraceuticals used to support joint and cartilage health in India.* The researchers also confirm that no serious side effects have been reported with the use of Boswellia.

It’s clear that there is solid research showing the health benefits of this popular Ayurvedic herb. Boswellia is available as a dietary supplement as a single herb or in combination with other herbs that have been shown to support joints, cartilage and a healthy inflammatory response.*

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