Digestive enzymes anyone?
Posted 17 October 2010 - 03:16 AM
Posted 17 October 2010 - 05:07 AM
Thankfully at present I haven't had the gut involvement that other members have, so can't actually advise you but I would be very wary of taking anything without my doctor's approval. I would be worried about making the situation worse!
Would it be possible for you to see either your doctor or rheumatologist soon so that they could suggest something that would help you?
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Posted 17 October 2010 - 05:23 AM
Do you see a gastrointestinal specialist (GI doctor)? Endocrinologists also deal with enzymes and hormones.
I'd want to talk to a specialist before trying anything like digestive enzymes and I think they are only available by prescription anyhow. I have a friend who is on them and I know they did a fair amount of testing before deciding which enzymes she needed and how much. Once she'd started on them, they also had to do a certain amount of fine tuning to get things right. Like Joelf says, if you got it wrong, you could make a bad situation worse.
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Posted 17 October 2010 - 05:14 PM
I found that they didn't really do much for me, so now I have ceased taking them.
Posted 18 October 2010 - 05:18 AM
That's an interesting question you raised, about digestive enzymes. It is worth discussing them with your primary care doctor, to see if they might be of any benefit for you.
Generally speaking, most of us make all the enzymes we need to digest all of our food properly. But age and illness can decrease our body's ability to manufacture the enzymes that we need, and some types of food processing reduces the enzymes that are naturally available in most foods to assist in our digestion.
If we suffer symptoms that could indicate improper digestion of some foods, such as gas, bloating, heartburn, or bowel problems, then it is possible that digestive enzymes might help alleviate the problem. Avoiding problem foods would similarly help, if we know exactly what foods are inspiring the g.i. issues. But, if we have basically no digestion problems then enzymes are not likely to be of any help.
Enzymes are readily available over the counter, and no prescription is necessary for them. Many foods are even manufactured with enzymes now, such as Lactaid Milk products, with lactaid being the enzyme many of us are missing in order to fully digest milk.
More helpful though is to consider why you feel the need for enzymes, and to discuss this with your doctor. They might find other causes for your problems, identify allergies, or even food intolerances. There is, for example, some sort of relationship between gluten and scleroderma. Some of the newer enzyme products for gluten claim to be able to help people continue to eat gluten even if they have an intolerance to it. First of all though, it would help to know if you really have such an intolerance, rather than spend hundreds of dollars on items which it turns out might make no difference at all to your own health.
Ask yourself, what symptoms are you trying to control better? Then discuss things with your doctor. I have some proven food intolerances, so I know exactly which sort of enzymes would be most beneficial for me, and my internist urges me to continue taking them even if/when I avoid those foods since, because I'm sensitive to them, even minute amounts could increase my level of inflammation.
But what's good for the goose isn't necessarily good for the gander! It would be a total waste of money, for example, for my husband to take the same enzymes. He does benefit from the lactaid enzymes if he has a lot of milk in one day, but that's about it, and his reaction is comparatively very mild, not severe. Whereas, others of us have more significant reactions to food, and need to take more care regarding our consumption and/or enzymes.
In short, enzymes are not always the answer to the problem. But sometimes they might be helpful, so it is worth at least discussing your possible need for them with your primary care doctor. For example, if you are allergic to shellfish, taking an enzyme for it is NOT going to stop your allergic response; neither will it help if you are allergic to milk, rather than intolerant of it. That distinction can literally be a life or death matter, for some people.
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