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Instep Dance Magazine Articles

Reprints of monthly column as first appearing in Instep Dance Magazine (no longer in print).

July 2002

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Reduced Pain and Faster Healing with Enzyme/Herbal Therapy – Part 1 - Overview

By Rick Allen, DC

"Better health leads to better dancing."

Here's the second addition to my treatment protocol that I made to help the dancer with the sprained ankle heal achieve a better, more complete healing with less pain: Enzyme/Herbal Therapy. I originally planned to cover this topic in just one article. However, to effectively use this therapy, we first must understand the process of inflammation, then understand the overall therapeutic mechanism, and, finally, review the specific enzymes, herbs and co-factors that make this therapy so beneficial. This will require at least two articles. To start, chiropractic doctor Anthony Cichoke gives an excellent overview.

The Process of Inflammation

Regardless of where or how an injury occurs, the body's reparative process is the same. At the moment of injury, the body initiates a series of defense measures, called inflammation.

Inflammation is the underlying pathologic process in virtually all injuries - whether they be bruises, cuts, sprains, fractures, or burns. On injury, a series of biochemical changes takes place in a predictable fashion. There is an increase in the permeability of the capillaries-which allows excess body fluid to accumulate in the injured area, leading to swelling. The end result is a wall-like deposit of insoluble proteins, particularly fibrin.

This sealing-off process, known as the fibrosis of repair, is an important defense mechanism that can prevent or retard the spread of infectious agents. In the absence of infection, however, this process has a negative effect because it delays recovery. Blood flow in the injured area stops; the body's own reparative agents cannot reach the damaged area, and dead tissue debris cannot be removed. Pain and discomfort are probably caused by the pressure of swelling or liberation of lactic acid from destroyed white blood cells. When the swelling goes down, pain will decrease.

The Value of Enzyme Therapy

The therapeutic use of enzymes is most effective at this stage of inflammation because they help dissolve the thrombotic plugs (fibrin). This fibrin reduction allows more oxygen to reach and revive the tissue cells. Excess fluid is also re-absorbed, reducing inflammation. The result is that dead tissue debris and disintegrated blood cells are absorbed.

With enzymes, the course of inflammation is not stopped or blocked, but supported and quickened. The body's own clearance can regenerate the disturbed structures more quickly. The healing time will be reduced.

In acute injuries, we use a special group of enzymes, called the hydrolases. These include pancreatin, trypsin, chymotrypsin, papain, bromelain, and microbial proteases. Although individual enzymes are extremely effective, for synergistic purposes, combinations of enzymes are used and are far more therapeutically effective than single enzymes.

Enzyme preparations are generally well-tolerated. Undesired side effects have seldom been reported for orally ingested enzymes even in higher doses or over extended periods of time. These side effects are mainly slight disturbances in the gastrointestinal tract, stool softening, flatulence, or fullness. Usually these side effects can easily be controlled by lowering the dosage.

Therefore, research indicates that oral enzyme therapy is successful in the treatment of inflammation in disorders such as osteoarthritis, and even traumatic injuries with minimal side effects. The advantages are substantial. If you so desire, a well-trained alternative- health-care physician can give advice in developing an enzyme program.

(Excerpted from The Complete Book of Enzyme Therapy by Dr. Anthony J Cichoke, D.C.)

Next several months: I will give an update on the specific enzymes and herbs. In the meantime, I suggest you look at my September 1999 article, "Natural Remedies - Part 1: Supplements and Herbs for the Relief of Pain, Swelling and Inflammation," which is posted on this web site.

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