Tuesday, Thursday & Saturday 9:00 am - 12:00 pm; Wednesday by appointment only

Inflammation, Immune Function and Enzyme Therapy

The last two decades has seen a better understanding of the relationship between inflammation and disease. It has become clear one of the fundamental initiating factors of disease stems from inflammation and how the immune system responds accordingly. Cardiovascular disease and insulin resistance related diseases like obesity begin with inflammation as a triggering device for an immune response. The cascade of events that follow can either resolve the issue or hinder the body’s attempt to right itself.

More accurately, inflammation is an immune reaction confined to a localized area. Injured tissue signals immune system cells, which quickly migrate to the damaged area. These white blood cells, collectively called leukocytes and lymphocytes, perform different functions. Some engulf bacteria and viruses while others release bacteria or virus killing chemicals. Other immune cells, like mast cells and basophils, release a substance called histamine causing dilation of blood vessels which increases blood flow to the damaged area. Increasing blood flow allows essential nutrients into injured cells and removes the waste material caused from the harm.

It is a multi-faceted process in which the body’s white blood cells and specific chemicals protect us from injury, infectious micro-organisms such as bacteria, yeast and viruses and noxious chemical substances like heavy metals and pesticides. The total sequence of events is designed to heal damaged tissue as quickly as possible.

Inflammation is part of the regenerative process. Without it, wounds and infections would not heal properly and detoxification of harmful elements would further damage the body. There would only be a steady progressive destruction of tissue. Ideally, one would lead a lifestyle that allows the body to quickly resolve acute or any prolonged inflammation. In this regard, every therapeutic goal should support and restore the normal inflammatory process; not to stop or slow it down.

The five clinical signs of inflammation are:  

Redness (Latin rubor)
Heat (calor)
Swelling (tumor)
Pain (dolor)
Loss of function (functio laesa)

Excessive and repeated acute or long-term chronic inflammation leads to an increased association with morbidity and mortality. Growing clinical evidence links inflammation to arthritis, auto-immune disorders, cancer, neurological diseases including epilepsy, Alzheimer’s and a host other more common conditions.

Most people associate inflammation with the sneezing and runny nose from allergies, or pain, redness and swelling from insect bites, sprained ankle or sport’s injury. Histamine initiates these events so anti-histamines or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID’s) drugs are prescribed or bought as over-the-counter remedies. These drugs reduce the pain, runny nose and redness but are only a temporary measure. The arsenal of drugs prescribed for inflammatory conditions do not address underlying issues; only suppress the signs and symptoms. This may appeal to many, but comes with serious risks when these drugs are used long term.

Anti-histamines and NSAID’s inhibit and prolong the inflammatory process instead of initiating a speedy recovery. They also have an array of side-effects. They can interfere with important psychological functions causing impairment of skilled performance that reduce safety in certain common and critical tasks such as driving or operating heavy machinery. Sedation happens most often while weight gain, altered taste, headache and dry mouth also occur. Other studies link kidney failure and/or death and liver injury to both acute and prolonged usage.

Inflammation mobilizes the immune system in order to quickly resolve the issue whether it be injury or infection. However, the immune system is often incapable of this due to several factors. Chronic stress, inadequate nutritional intake, alcohol and/or drug abuse are some of the influential dynamics. Prolonged stress exhausts adrenal function which in turn suppresses immune function. Insufficient nutritional intake of protein, minerals and vitamins has a harmful affect on immune function. Equally, excessive sugar consumption suppresses immune function. The immune system cannot mount a successful attack on pathogenic microorganisms, heal injured tissue or eliminate toxins from the body. It is like an engine running on only one cylinder.

Our innate immunity includes local barriers to infection such as skin, stomach acid and mucus, the cough reflex, enzymes in tears and saliva and the oils in skin. It is the natural immunity to disease that occurs as part of an individual’s natural biological and genetic makeup. The natural barriers we possess can alter over time and lessen our protection. Stomach acid is the main protection from ingestion of tainted food and drink. While pharmaceutical companies reap billions in products designed to suppress hydrochloric acid production in the stomach, the reality is much different. Many people do not make enough hydrochloric acid.

Inside the length of the digestive tract is a thick mucus barrier. It is thickest in the stomach as it must protect the stomach from hydrochloric acid. Due to inadequate nutrition, stress, alcohol and drug abuse, this barrier begins to wear away; so much so that it can no longer protect the stomach lining from the acid. The results are acid-reflux, gastritis and ulcers. Once the chemistry of the stomach has changed, i.e. a lowered pH (measure of acidity or alkalinity), digestion of protein is impaired and proliferation of bacteria can occur.

Over-the-counter drugs like Tums® and Rolaids® are from calcium carbonate-chalk. Milk of Magnesia® is primarily magnesium hydroxide. The effect of these is to alter the pH of the stomach from a highly acidic state to a more alkaline state. If the body is trying to digest protein when an ant-acid is taken, the brain signals production of more stomach acid since protein can only be digested in an acidic environment. Hence the notions of excessive stomach acid and the attempts to suppress it. The burning and discomfort experienced in these cases is not from too much acid but from the mucosal barrier having been worn away. Re-establishing the lining will stop the inflammation in the stomach and digestive tract. Healing the GI tract will shut down one of the most common areas of inflammation.

Inadequate digestion leads to inflammation throughout the digestive tract. Here is one of the most overlooked daily sources of inflammation. It is essential to eat organic, pesticide free food and avoid fast/junk foods laden with omega-6 fats and sugars. But when food is cooked at 118° F all the inherent food enzymes are destroyed making digestion a burden on the pancreas and other organs. Most people eat too quickly without chewing and mechanically breaking down food into smaller pieces. Imagine it akin to swallowing a beach-ball size morsel. Instead our cells need nutrients something the size of a grain of sand. Digestive enzymes do not break down large particles of food very well. Obviously, smaller food components are easier to be utilized.

Leukocytosis is viewed as a pathological condition found mostly in poisoning, infection and intoxication. It is the rapid increase in the number and activity of leukocytes in the blood as a reaction to these conditions. It was first observed in 1843. Digestive leukocytosis, was detected by Rudolph Virchow, the “father” of cellular pathology. He described it in 1897 thinking it normal as all his patients displayed it after eating cooked food. In 1930, Dr. Paul Kouchakoff, M.D. presented his findings in Paris , France at the 1st International Congress of Microbiology. The most disturbing observation was that consumption of cooked or processed foods elicited a dramatic response from the immune system, whereas eating raw food had none.

Leukocytes are abundant in enzymes as they must “digest” foreign material like bacteria and viruses as part of their immune function. Food in any form requires enzymes for digestion. When cooked food is taken, enzymes must be produced in the body to digest the food. If no enzymes are available in food or are not produced in enough quantity, inflammation occurs signaling the leukocytes to enter the blood stream to capture and digest the food passing into the blood and lymph. This is how eating cooked, enzyme-deficient food and ineffective digestion leads to inflammation and an immune response.

One hundred years ago Dr. John Beard, an English endocrinologist and zoologist made a discovery that still has not been fully recognized in the medical field. His approach to caner treatment has gone mostly unnoticed, yet recent studies confirmed his work. Dr. Beard observed similarities in cancer cells and what he called trophoblasts which are cells of the extra-embryonic tissue responsible for implantation of the ovum to the uterus, development of the placenta, and controlling the exchange of oxygen and metabolites between mother and embryo.

He believed cancer came from the alteration of germ cells (i.e., ovum or spermatozoon) during formation of the embryo. Normally, germ cells find their way to the sex organs. Activation at a later time triggers germ cells to differentiate into trophoblasts and somatic cells. This happens in the course of normal embryo formation. However, Beard theorized some go astray ending up in other tissue. If this occurs outside the normal course of pregnancy the result is called cancer. Could the steady rise in cancer over the last century be from the increase of deleterious pesticides, herbicides and other deadly environmental chemicals/ Are these the triggers altering the strayed germ cells?

To Beard’s credit, “it has been found that the truly dangerous and malignant portions of breast tumors have a unique configuration of surface markers: all express a protein marker called CD44, in addition to having either very low levels, or no levels, of another marker called CD24. But in a 1996 article, Israeli scientists demonstrated CD44 surface markers are also found on trophoblasts. “In this study we found human trophoblasts, for the first time, to express CD44,” Dr. Ran Goshen and his colleagues at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem wrote. “Intermediate trophoblasts of the first and second trimester exhibited the standard form of CD44….” So here is another important confirmation of the trophoblast-cancer link.” (Original italics)

What Beard called “germ cells” may actually be “stem cells”, but that could be a debate of nomenclature. He observed the many similarities of trophoblasts to cancer cells which again, are being confirmed today. Buried in the medical literature are the observations that many cancers are the result of an overgrowth of what are labeled undifferentiated trophoblastic or cancer stem cells. Stem cells are precursor cells capable of differentiating into many different types of cells. Stem cells form an effective repair system for the body and have three primary characteristics:

  1. They can remain stem cells indefinitely
  2. They can divide, and each daughter cell can continue to be a stem cell,  
  • or can convert into precursor cells to other types of cells
  1. They can turn into any other type of cell when needed such as in injury

They can renew themselves indefinitely and under certain conditions or experiments can become specialized cells such as the beating cells of the heart muscle or the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas. Stem cells are the underpinning of every cell and tissue in the body. While politicians and religious groups argue pro and con for stem cell research in the hopes of curing numerous diseases, one lingering aspect remains: in many of the experiments conducted so far, stem cells have resorted to cancer stem cells.

In 1904 Dr. Beard made one of his greatest contributions by revealing his observations of the fetal pancreas. As an embryologist, he studied the development of embryos and found the fetus’ organs were completely formed by the 8th week. Prior to this time the placenta continually sends stem cells for tissue formation. From there it was simply a matter of cell division to further the growth of a living organism. He saw in the human fetus, around the same time, the initiation and continued production of large amounts of enzymes by the pancreas. Since the fetus receives all of its nourishment from the mother through the placenta there was no need for “digestive” enzymes to be released by the pancreas. He came to the conclusion this was how the fetus dealt with the ongoing production of trophoblastic cells and tissue; by “digesting” them. He went on to develop the treatment of cancer with animal pancreatic enzymes.

In the works of Dr. Beard we have part of the puzzle in controlling inflammation and support of the immune system. While Dr. Beard focused on the treatment of cancer with pancreatic enzymes, some forty years later, Dr. Edward Howell began his work with plant-based enzymes in improving digestion. What they have in common is the pancreas.

Dr. Howell noted the pancreas hypertrophies (becomes larger and heavier) in those on a largely cooked food diet. He surmised in 1940 that chronic degenerative disease was the result of what he called “enzyme starvation”. He advocated a mostly raw food diet that included animal proteins. He used digestive enzymes with his patients especially when eating cooked food. He believed if one could better digest food, the body would be able to fend off disease and be healthy. He treated disease essentially from a similar point of view as did Beard – a deficiency of enzymes.

Howell suggested over consumption of cooked food created ongoing enzyme deficiencies leading to disease. He said it was like having a bank account. If you continually withdraw enzymes from the pancreas and immune system to digest cooked food, eventually the body will be unable to produce enough in critical times. You will become bankrupt so to speak. He observed an inverse relationship between enzymes and length of life; the more enzymes go to digest cooked food the shorter the length of life.

The pancreas is an unusual organ. It is both an exocrine gland (secretes chemicals onto the surface of other organs) and an endocrine gland (secretes chemicals into blood and lymph). It is believed to be a digestive organ because of the enzymes secreted into the small intestine during eating. But what if this concept is, in part, a mistaken identity? Dr. Beard’s observation of pancreatic enzyme production in the fetus when none are needed lends credence to this. From the eighth week of life, the pancreas destroys trophoblastic cells; possibly even cancerous ones, through its enzymes. It is quite clear from the onset the pancreas is part of the immune system.

Remember, inflammation is an immune response. That being said, what if the pancreas’s production of enzymes are not meant for digestion but meant for resolving inflammation and immune function? It is well known that proteolytic enzymes speed the inflammatory process and resolve it more rapidly than other methods.

In studies performed on rabbits and dogs, injection of histamine resulted in the rapid release of “digestive enzymes”, as labeled by the authors. But are they necessarily “digestive enzymes” when the response was from a known inflammatory marker/trigger and not food? After 24 years of research and clinical practice, it is the author’s belief the pancreas is part of the immune system but is forced to be a digestive organ because we eat cooked, enzyme-deficient food. Humans are the only creature on the planet that cooks its food. All other creatures consume their food raw. Disease in animals of the wild is rare but common in domesticated animals that eat cooked, processed food.

If we look again at the concept of digestive leukocytosis, cooked food is viewed as an insult by the immune system, whereas raw food is not. We know the pancreas secretes enzymes when we eat cooked food. Where are the studies looking at the difference between pancreatic output of enzymes in cooked versus raw food consumption? What about studies exploring insulin production with cooked food versus raw food? Finally, why haven’t researchers studied, long-term, the pancreatic function in those on a raw food diet versus a cooked food diet? These studies and more might shed new light on the true function of the pancreas.

One of the ways to accommodate this new information is to learn which foods are dietary stress factors. Everyone has dietary stress factors in the form of carbohydrates, fats/oils, and protein. They are related to both over consumption of these foods and the enzyme deficiencies created from them. For example, if one has protein issues they are often seen as “itis”; sinusitis, rhinitis, arthritis, etc… These are the result of a history of incomplete protein digestion and/or too much protein that eventually overwhelms the body’s ability to digest it. Correcting protein digestion and modifying its intake resolves the issues it caused.

By utilizing a specialized 24-hour urinalysis, one can identify their dietary stress factors. Implementing specific enzyme formulas to improve digestion, modifying known offending foods and relieving stress heals the body and increases well being. Boosting the amount of raw foods strengthens and relieves the burden of the pancreas, restoring its natural function as part of the immune system. Inflammation begets an immune response which, if not checked, begets disease. While there are other factors to deal with (environmental pollution, environmental estrogen-like chemicals), correcting inflammation by strengthening your immune response via increased enzyme production can only be of great benefit to those facing disease.


Legal Notice: The Author specifically invokes the First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and of the press without prejudice. The information written is published for informational purposes only under the rights guaranteed by the First Amendment of the Constitution for the United States of America , and should not in any way be construed as a substitute for the advice of a physician or other licensed health care practitioner. The statements contained herein have not been evaluated by the FDA. The services discussed herein are not intended to diagnose, cure, prevent or treat any disease. Images, text and logic are copyright protected. ALL rights are explicitly reserved without prejudice, and no part of this web page or its contents may be reproduced except by written consent.

This article/web page is Copyright 2010. All Rights Reserved. No reproduction of this article/page in it entirety or in part is permitted without written permission by Mark Rojek.