Aspirin vs. Enzymes
by Garry Gordon, M.D., D.O., M.D.(H.)
from The Doctor's Prescription for Healthy Living - Volume 2, Number 3
Over the years, a significant amount of medical research has been performed on enzymes and their use for circulatory and cardiovascular health. Scientists worldwide have found that vascular and circulatory disorders respond extremely well to systemic oral enzymes.
If you ar suffering from, or at risk for, arteriosclerosis, thrombosis, and other coronary heart disorders, phlebitis, edema, serious varicose veins and other circulatory problems that affect the various organs, including the brain, lungs, heart, kidneys, and liver - combination oral enzymes may be an important supplement regimen for supporting your circulatory health.
Strong Case for Oral Enzymes: Inflammation and Heart Disease
The role of systemic oral enzymes in heart health is becoming more important as medical researchers uncover a newly emerging disease pathway in which uncontrolled inflammation throughout the body can contribute to a wide range of deadly maladies, including heart disease, stroke, and other circulatory disorders.
There is now convincing evidence that inflammation is strongly linked to heart attacks and stroke, according to Attilio Maseri, M.D., of the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, Rome, writing in a recent issue of The New England Journal of Medicine.
In that same issue of the prestigious medical journal, medical scientists from Harvard Medical School, long involved with the Physician's Health Study, report that curbing inflammation may be at the "heart" of a sensible cardiovascular health program. Fortunately, enzymes have already been proven, in many clinical studies, to safely lower the specific types of inflammation closely linked to heart disease.
The study results, reported in 1997 in The New England Journal of Medicine, stem from the Physician's Heath Study, involving 22,000 male doctors. The study was halted in 1988 when researchers dicovered aspirin, a classic anti-inflammatory drug, significantly helped to lower heart disease risk among men. The findings were so significant that the researchers conducting the study believed it was no longer moral or ethical to deny the non-aspirin group this important protective agent.
Not suprisingly, aspirin is a classic anti-inflammatory agent whose proven benefits include reducing risk for heart attack and most types of stroke, not to mention its very low cost to consumers and long-term stability. There is also emerging evidence that aspirin reduces risk for colon and breast cancer, and possibly Alzheimer's disease.
Aspirin, however, does have significant complications with long-term use. I advise my patients to use aspirin for short-term needs but to always keep in mind that it is at the top of the list for gastrointestinal tract complications, including micro-bleeding and ulcers. Eterically coated or buffered aspirin is no less irritating, claims from manufacturers notwithstanding. There is also a small but very real risk among aspirin users for hemorrhagic stroke. Aspirin is without a doubt an important and proven medical tool but not innocuous.
Doctors Do Not Routinely Test Imflammation Levels
Most doctors today do not normally think of inflammation as a cause of heart disease when treating patients, and they rarely measure the body's inflammation levels. The way to find out the extent to which the body is undergoing significant inflammation, however, is to perform what scientists call a C-reactive protein analysis of the blood.
Elevated serum levels of C-reactive protein are nonspecific but sensitive markers of the acute-phase response to infectious agents, immunologic stimuli (substances foreign to the body), and tissue damage as in heart disease. In the Physician's Health Study, Harvard researchers examined levels of CRP in almost 1,100 men, comparing some 543 who suffered a heart attack with the same number who hadn't.
Elevated levels of inflammation throughout the body placed men at a threefold greater risk for heart disease and a twofold increased risk for stroke. Men who benefitted most from aspirin had the highest inflammation levels. Yet, dangerous levels of CRP were found in the high-normal range, especially in cases where patients are already suffering heart disease symptoms such as angina.
"We have had some experience with the C-reactive protein molecule," says european enzyme researcher Rudolf Kunze whose IMTOX company holds two international C-reactive protein patents. "Although C-reactive protein has a very low concentration in the blood under normal, healthy conditions, it increases by 100 fold or more in pathological situations."
"We don't know whether some prior chronic inflammation leads to atherosclerosis, whether atherosclerosis causes the inflammation, or whether atherosclerosis and inflammation run in tandem and accelerate each other," says lead investigator Paul Ridker, of Harvard. He adds: "Curbing inflammation is another way to prevent heart disease."
The Harvard researchers writing in The New England Journal of Medicine make two important points:
People with heart disease risk, once other known factors have been ruled out, did not need to have extremely high levels of C-reactive protein to manifest heart disease risk. Rick increased when C-reactive protein levels were high within the normal range.
What's more, substances that down-regulate the inflammation of blood and coronary vessels can help to prevent heart disease. Both aspirin and enzymes work extremely well, but enzymes have far fewer complications with long-term use.
The Enzyme Answer
If we can harmonize and re-balance pateints' inflammatory pathways, particularly levels of C-reactive protein, we can help them to reduce their risk of heart attacks and stroke. Today, we finally have a safe anti-inflammatory tool: systemic oral enzymes. The most well researched, thouroughly documented enzyme mixture today is Wobenzym N from Mucos Pharma GmbH & Co, of Germany.
Enzymes Proven to Reduce CRP
We know that enzymes have a particular affinity for rebalancing the body's levels of C-reactive protein. IMTOX measured this protein in blood samples of healthy volunteers who took bromelain, papain and trypsin supplied by Mucos Pharma, which manufactures Wobenzym N. There were marked C-reactive protein reductions, Kunze reports.
In another study, Wobenzym N was studied for its use in operative dentistry in a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study. Prior to surgical dental intervention, 36 patients were prescribed ten tablets of Wobenzym twice daily. In the control group, 44 patients received placebo. This dosage was continued until the seventh postoperative day. By day three, C-reactive protein levels were three fold higher in the control group compared to those patients receiving Wobenzym N.
Additional evidence of Enzymes' Benefits for Circulatory Health
Enzymes benefit circulatory health well beyond reducing CRP levels. The key to blood flow and reduced risk of clots is typically low levels of fibrinogen. Unfortunately, impeded bile flow, diabetes mellitus, malignant processes and the natural aging process increase the plasma's fibrinogen concentration, exerting a negative effect on blood viscosity. Healthy breakdown of fibrinogen therefore plays a substantial role in improving circulation in the human body.
Combination enzymes help to bring fibrin levels back into the optimal range, in part by reducing the thromboxane concentration or by directly blocking aggregation.
Another way that micro-circulation is influenced by oral enzymes is by the ability of blood cells to alter their shape. The red blood cells are forced to adapt their form in order to pass through the finest capillary vessels. As they age, they lose this capability, thereby inhibiting or blocking capillary perfusion. Evidence that enzymes can clearly improve the ability of erythrocytes to alter their shape has been provided by numerous studies.
Clinical Validation of Benefits for Circulatory Problems
Dr. Valls-Serra treated 245 patients with enzymes. The enzyme therapy proved to be very effective for patients with superficial and deep thrombophlebitis. The researcher observed a substantially better therapeutic outcome with the enzyme mixture than with conventional anticoagulants and vasoactive substances.
Denck and Weidinger also investigated the circulatory enhancing effects of enzymes. They took 25 patients with deep venous thromboses of the legs and assigned them to one of two groups. The 11 patients in group 1 had suffered from the condition for an average of eight months. In group 2, the 14 patients had suffered from deep venous thromboses of the legs for more than two years. Twenty patients reported a reduction in the tendency to develop edema. The increase in venous capacity and the possitive effect on venous function were marked.
Next, Gall verified the reports of Denck and Weidinger in a placebo-controlled study. Twenty-eight patients with deep venous thrombosis of the leg took part in this investigation. The group using the Wobenzym formula had a significant elevation in the venous capacity and substantially reduced obstruction.
Maehder performed a field test with patients in private practice. Aside from the usual physical therapy, 216 patients with pathological venous conditions also received the enzyme formula. The dose ranged from three to ten tablets three times daily. The number of days of therapy, edema formation and swelling, pain, as well as skin symptoms on the afflicted extremity and the ability to walk were evaluated. The symptoms in 66 patients (30%) were cured and 134 (62%) were free of complaints with a substantial improvement in their objectifiable symptoms. Only 16 patients (7%) reported no change in their condition.
Finally, Wobenzym N has been proven to work in cases of occlusive arterial disease. Rokitansky combined oral enzymes with the application of ozone in the treatment of 445 patients with occlusive arterial disease. Freedom from complaints was acheived in 79 percent of these patients with walking difficulties. Residual claudication remained in 12.4 percent and only 8.1 percent of the patients were resistant to therapy. Furthermore, it was possible to reduce the extent of any surgical interventions through this combined regimen.
The Bottom Line for Heart Health
Aspirin is extremely well documented. We know that it can reduce risk for a heart attack or stroke. With Wobenzym, we don't have the same types of long-term studies relating to heart attack or stroke risk reduction. However, the scientific and clinical evidenceprovides strong support. What's more, in my own practice, I emphasize the use of Wobenzym N over aspirin and have had great results in keeping my patients alive and free from heart attacks and stroke, without the concomitant risk of ulcers and hemorrhagic stroke.