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Digestive Enzymes

I have intestinal adhesions from surgery, hi fiber foods send me to the ER with intense pain and blockage, would digestive enzymes help, and if so what kind? I can not continue to live on protein and soft white foods, I need a healthier diet that won’t cause me pain and blockage.

Answer:

There is plenty of anecdotal evidence that digestive enzymes help with adhesions, but there are only a few studies that suggest enzymes are of any benefit specifically for adhesions. Personally I am a strong believer that digestive enzymes can be of benefit in wound healing, and while recovering from surgery. Enzymes have been shown to be very effective in reducing inflammation and improving scar tissue. One enzyme I would recommend consuming is Bromelain, which is found in Pineapple. Bromelain is a proteolytic enzyme which means it breaks down protein, so will help with the digestion of protein in your diet, it has been shown to help reduce post operative swelling and also useful for arthritis. If you are already following a low residue diet, you may well have a juicer to process any fruits and vegetables. I would suggest you start off making some pineapple juice using fresh pineapple (do not use commercially made juice as this has lost most of its benefits). Start by making a very small amount of the juice and see how well you can tolerate it. Drink it on its own, not mixed with anything else and over time you can increase the amount you consume. Two things to be aware of to maximise the benefit of taking bromelain: 1- For digestive benefit – drink the juice at the same time as a meal, this will allow the enzymes to assist breakdown of protein you have consumed. 2- For anti-inflammatory benefit – drink on its own away from any meal, this gives the enzymes a better chance of getting into your bloodstream, where they can exert their anti-inflammatory effects. Papaya also contains an proteolytic enzyme called Papain, which has similar benefits although not as well studied as Bromelain. Proteolytic enzymes are just one type of enzyme there are others which digest carbohydrates and fats. There are commercially available enzyme products that contain pure Bromelain, or combinations of many different enzymes. I would try using the juice first and if you find it of benefit, and want to try something else, then you may wish to discuss using the supplement form with your Doctor. Be aware that Bromelain, thins your blood so if you are taking any kind of blood thinning medication such as warfarin you should also discuss this with your doctor. I would also recommend drinking camomile tea which also has anti-inflammatory soothing effect on the digestive system and may help with some of your symptoms.

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