Systemic or Digestive Enzymes for K9 OSA?

Systemic or Digestive Enzymes for K9 OSA?

How Do Digestive & Systemic Enzymes Differ & How Would They Impact Canine Osteosarcoma?


When we refer to digestive enzymes, we are talking about enzymes that function in the digestive process – digestive enzymes begin working in the digestive tract.  Systemic enzymes function outside of the digestive process.

So the difference between digestive and systemic enzymes would be the place where they work and the action they have.

The other difference is when they are taken. Digestive enzymes are taken with a meal. Systemic enzymes are taken between meals to avoid being involved in the digestion. The identical enzyme, when taken with a meal would function as a digestive enzyme and the full activity for a systemic application wouldn’t be fulfilled.

Systemic enzymes are taken to work within the circulation, usually to mediate an inflammatory condition either in the blood itself or in the tissue outside of the bloodstream (extravascularly). But to function systemically, the enzyme has to survive the stomach’s acidity.

Most products sold for systemic usage are proteases. Also known as proteolytic enzymes, they are enzymes that break down protein.

There has been a great deal of discussion as to how enzymes can make it through the stomach without being broken down, and there is also some misunderstanding. We know that animal enzymes can survive in an alkaline environment, but are destroyed in a low ph (acidic) region like the stomach.

The first digestives, as well as the first products intended for systemic use, were derived from animal sources. Even though animal-derived systemic enzymes are taken on an empty stomach, they must be enteric coated to survive the stomach’s acidity.

On the other hand, microbial or plant enzymes, can survive in a low pH region, pass through the stomach and still be active in the intestine. Their ph range of activity is very broad. Many go from two or three all the way up to seven, eight or nine. Taken with food, they will be active in the stomach with a pH of two or three, and then move into the intestine and be active there too.

Plant source proeolytic enzymes,  intended for systemic use, particularly bromelain (from pineapple) and papain (from papaya), have been studied for years. And more recently, the microbials, usually fungals, also proteases, have been studied in the way they function in systemic circulation because they have a much broader range of activity and don’t need enteric coating.

Studies show that they have the ability to impact the inflammatory process in circulation, either in the vascular system by helping to break down fibrin (the substance that helps form clots within the bloodstream) or extravascularly (outside the blood steam) where tissue inflammation occurs, usually as a result of soft tissue injury or trauma to the system.

How that process occurs, is not known. Much discussion revolves around the fact that large proteins, such as enzymes, should not be able to pass intact through the intestinal wall in order to function in the bloodstream. Logistically, that would seem to be true.

It is known that “something” is happening. Research right now is trying to ascertain whether or not the proteolytic enzymes pass intact through the intestinal wall to function as enzymes in the system or if they interact in some way with other substances outside of the bloodstream of the intestinal wall, which then impact the inflammatory process in the system.

We do know that they function. Research is trying to ascertain how they function. Again, we are talking about proteases. They function to break down substances like fibrin or to mediate proinflammatory substances, such as cytokines and TNF alpha (a natural compound our bodies use to boost the immune system) which is increased in times of infection or when fighting cancer. These substances have been studied. We know that proteolytic enzymes impact these substances in circulation, we are just not sure how they do it. Research is ongoing.

So it stands to reason that digestive and systemic enzyme approaches should both be used in dogs with osteosarcoma. With a disease that is as fast moving as canine osteosarcoma, by using digestive enzymes, food is partly digested in the upper stomach. This means that less of a demand is placed on the digestive organs. By giving your dog’s system less work to do, your dog has more energy for living and fighting his cancer. And by giving proteolytic enzymes between meals, the bloodstream is cleaner, and you are adding metabolic helpers to help unmask cancer cells, allowing the immune system to destroy them.


Filed under: Enzyme Therapy

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