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Mid-Hudson Vegetarian Society, Inc.
38 East Market Street, Rhinebeck, New York 12572 USA -  845-876-2626
Vegetarian - Vegan - Animal Rights - Health - Nutrition - Environment

The mission of the Mid-Hudson Vegetarian Society, Inc. is to promote the vegetarian ethic in the Mid-Hudson (New York) region, educate the community and aid anyone in the pursuit of a totally vegetarian (vegan) cruelty-free and healthful lifestyle.


By Dr. Barry M. Mark, DDS, LAc, CAc

Note: We are running this article about enzymes by Dr. Mark because of the growing popularity of the raw food movement, which states that since human bodies are composed of living cells we need "living" nourishment for peak health. By adding fresh-as-possible foods, the natural enzymes in foods that are normally destroyed by cooking are maintained. Dr. Mark is a dentist and acupuncturist who offers enzyme replacement therapy and complex homeopathy in his practice.

Understanding enzyme replacement nutritional therapy can provide information that may be helpful for many people with a myriad of symptoms, such as inflammation and pain throughout the body and digestion imbalances.

Enzymes perpetuate biochemical and physiological reactions that occur in all living organisms. Enzymes are proteins and are essential nutrients found in many foods. They are responsible for the biochemical reactions that enable fruits and vegetables to mature and become ripe.

Enzymes are secreted by the cells. Their function is to promote or initiate chemical changes in other substances. They help to enhance digestive function, which is where many problems begin. Vitamins and minerals are the activators, or coenzymes, in this complicated process. All of the processes of life are dependent on enzymes.

The enzymes found in raw foods are responsible for the benefits we get from vitamins and minerals. In fact, deficiencies of specific vitamins and minerals frequently result in acute symptoms. Nevertheless, it takes time for enzyme deficiencies to be identified since they may be present as an integral part of chronic degenerative diseases.

There are six known groups of enzymes, and they are categorized by the types of reactions they promote. The enzymes that affect digestive and biological function are the hydrolases, or hydrolytic enzymes.

Hydrolytic enzymes are found in microorganisms in plant-based foods and in our digestive tract (particularly the salivary glands, stomach, pancreas, and small intestine). They are also found within white blood cells. Specific hydrolytic enzymes digest protein, fats, complex carbohydrates, and simple sugars.

The body's process that maintains stability (called homeostasis) is most effectively maintained by enzymes derived from plant sources.

Certain enzymes can be taken as supplements with meals to aid digestion. They also may be taken at other times for various symptoms. Because foods contain enzymes, which are known to promote chemical reactions within the body, they therefore can be considered an integral part of an optimum diet.

There are several enzyme formulations, which also contain western herbs, that may be helpful for certain conditions. After examining for viscero-somatic reflexes, the healthcare practitioner trained in complementary medicine may use a specific urinalysis as well as tests of blood chemistry to determine the proper enzyme(s) needed for a particular person.

Viscero-somatic reflex areas (there are 29 of them) are located throughout the body. By palpating these areas, practitioners can determine underlying imbalances that are caused by enzyme deficiencies. In the facial area, (see Reflex #1), sensitivity in the area labeled Reflex #1 may indicate a protein deficiency caused by the inability to digest protein or inadequate protein intake. This reflex area is in the deep aspect of the masseter muscle of the mandible (lower jaw).

Sensitivity or pain in the area labeled Reflex #2, may indicate a lipase deficiency. Lipase is the enzyme needed to properly digest fats. A high fat diet or a diet too high in simple carbohydrates (such as sugar, white flour, all refined carbohydrates) may result in a lipase deficiency. This is the area of the temporalis muscle which is where many migraine headaches occur.

Coincidently, the "gall bladder meridian," which is intimately involved with fat metabolism, traverses this area.

Enzyme deficiencies are common in most health problems, preclinical, chronic, and acute. The importance of enzyme replacement therapy, in my opinion, will become an integral aspect in comprehensive health care in the future.


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