The purpose of our digestive tract is to extract and absorb the essential nutrients contained in the food we consume. Digestive enzymes aid in this process by breaking down large food molecules into smaller, readily absorbable building blocks the body requires.
Naturally grown foods contain the enzymes necessary to aid in the digestion process so that the body doesn't have to use its enzyme reserves to do all the work. But when we process, refine, heat, or microwave our food, most if not all enzymes are rendered useless. At a temperature above 118 degrees Fahrenheit, all enzyme activity is destroyed. When we consume cooked or highly processed foods, our digestive system has to produce the enzymes necessary to digest what was eaten.
For anyone suffering from ulcers, gastritis, severe burning sensations, irritable bowel syndrome, or intestinal lining damage, proper digestion and absorption of nutrients can be especially difficult. Typical alternatives for relief include: 1) dietary changes, 2) over the counter or prescription drugs, and 3) vitamin and herbal supplements. Three natural remedies that appear to help with digestion and to soothe irritated gastrointestinal linings are gamma oryzanol, aloe vera, and peppermint.
Gamma Oryzanol (rice bran oil) is a naturally occurring mixture of plant chemicals - ferulic acid and phytosterols. Ferulic acid appears to provide health benefits due to its ability to prevent abnormal tissue growth and its antioxidant properties. Phytosterols appear to help lower cholesterol by reducing absorption of it in the intestines. Gamma oryzanol has been shown in clinical studies to be effective as a remedy for several ailments including irritable bowel syndrome, gastritis, and duodenal and gastric ulcers caused by stress.
Aloe Vera has been used for thousands of years to treat skin problems and wounds. More recently, aloe vera has been used to improve conditions in the digestive tract, stimulate the immune system, treat inflammations, and speed up cell growth. Many of its beneficial properties are attributed to the large number of mucopolysaccharides (basic sugars) present in the inner gel of the leaf, especially acetylated mannans (primarily in the form of mannose). The acetylated mannans help to bring the immune system into balance when it is in either a suppressed or over stimulated condition.
Peppermint leaves have been used as a digestion aid and to ease headaches for centuries. Today, peppermint is known as a popular flavoring agent and as a remedy for gas, intestinal colic, intestinal inflammations, stomach disorders, and liver and gallbladder problems. It helps with the digest of fats by stimulating the flow of digestive juices and the production of bile. When taken with a meal, it helps with food digestion and reduces the amount of gas produced by shortening the time food is in the stomach.
Researchers have studied gamma oryzanol to determine what effect it could have on the gastrointestinal mucosa. It appears to have positive benefits for gastritis suffers. Aloe vera appears to have a soothing effect on gastritis and helps inhibit the caustic bacteria, Helicobacter pylori. H pylori is a major cause of gastritis and conditions that lead to peptic ulcers.
Peppermint appears to be an effective remedy for improving digestion and releasing gas. It can help the stomach muscles relax, soothe the lining of the colon, and help relieve diarrhea and spastic colon symptoms. Peppermint is also effective as a remedy for relieving stress, anxiety, restlessness, and nervous insomnia.
Digestive enzymes assist in the breakdown of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, and sugars. The body can't utilize the nutrients even in healthy foods unless digestive enzymes are present to aid in the delivery of the nutrients to the bloodstream, cells, and organs. And, these nutrients are what keep the immune system and the rest of the body strong and healthy.
If the body is forced to supply the digestive enzymes needed for digestion, then it has fewer enzymes for other essential body functions. Including supplemental plant enzymes at the time food is consumed provides two important benefits: plant enzymes can go to work immediately to start the digestive process and the body doesn't have to take enzymes from other organs. This means that more metabolic enzymes will be available to help organs and tissues function properly.
Including enzyme supplements in a daily diet may yield these powerful benefits: 1) restore the body's enzyme supply, 2) boost energy level, 3) strengthen the immune system, and 4) improve overall well-being.
Gamma-Zyme is a soothing alternative for those wishing to add a digestive enzyme supplement to their diet but also suffer from ulcers, gastritis, severe burning sensations, irritable bowel syndrome, or intestinal lining damage. Each vegetarian capsule contains a unique formulation of plant enzymes and herbs to help digest fats, starches, sugars and fibers and soothe and restore damaged or irritated intestinal linings. Protease, the protein digesting enzyme, is excluded from this formula as it may cause temporary irritation or burning for those with gastrointestinal problems.
Gamma-Zyme works in a wide range of pH environments. Below is a list of the enzymes and their function:
Alpha Galactosidase - Breaks down Melibiose, Raffinose and Stachyose sugars that are responsible for excess gas in the digestive system.
Amylase - Breaks down sugars and starches.
Cellulase - Hydrolyzes cellulose.
Gluco-Amylase - Breaks down sugars and starches.
Invertase - Breaks down cane and beet sugars.
Lipase - Breaks down fats and oils.
A 1977 issue of the Journal of New Remedies and Clinics reported on the results of a clinical trial designed to evaluate gamma oryzanol for effectiveness and safety in treating gastrointestinal ailments. The study included patients from 375 Japanese hospitals. Although the dosages varied, most patients received 300 mg of gamma oryzanol per day. Most patients were evaluated after receiving the gamma oryzanol for three weeks. Researchers reported that gamma oryzanol was effective in 90.8% of the patients. This breaks down as follows: 25.8% highly effective, 36.4% effective, 28.6% slightly effective, and 9.2% no change. Patients with autonomic instability, over 40 years of age, or female reported the most improvement. No significant side effects were observed.
The results from a double blind, placebo controlled aloe vera trial were published in Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics in 2004. In this study, forty-four outpatients with active ulcerative colitis (a form of inflammatory bowel syndrome) were randomly given either oral aloe vera or a placebo. At the end of four weeks, subjects receiving aloe vera had a much higher rate of clinical remission and improvement compared to the placebo group. The anti-inflammatory properties of aloe vera appear to have a beneficial effect on this condition by lessening gut hypersensitivity.
In an article published in Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine, it is stated that the German Health Commission E has recommended peppermint tea as a remedy for indigestion. A 1996 study conducted in Germany examined the benefits of using peppermint oil on subjects with irritable bowel syndrome. Patients with moderate to severe pain symptoms experienced an 89.5% improvement. Clinical studies conducted in Britain and Denmark in the 1990s also reported positive pain reduction for patients with irritable bowel syndrome.
Langmead L., Feakins R.M., Goldthorpe S., Holt H., Tsironi E., De Silva A., Jewell .P., Rampton D.S. "Randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled trial of oral aloe vera gel for active ulcerative colitis." Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics (19:7, pp. 739-747): Blackwell Publishing; 2004.
Takata Y., et al. "Double blind test of gamma-oryzanol on upper digestive tract symptoms accompanied by indefinite complaints." Journal of New Remedies and Clinics (25-4, pg 72): Japan; 1976.
Takemoto T., et al. "Clinical trial of Hi-Z fine granules on gastrointestinal symptoms at 375 hospitals (Japan)." Journal of New Remedies and Clinics (26-7, pg 25): Japan; 1977.
Wurges Jennifer. "Peppermint." Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine: Gale Group; 2001.
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