A Guide to Digestive Enzymes

For those troubled by digestive issues it is important to improve the right balance of probiotics, prebiotics and the digestive enzymes that help us to break down our food. If your body is not making the right amount of digestive enzymes (our Napiers probiotic blend has 3 enzymes) then food is not broken down well and starts to break down, and even ferment, in the gut and lower colon where it can cause wind, discomfort and flatulence.


Proteases (proteolytic enzymes) are very important in digestion as they breakdown proteins so that your body can use them.

By breaking down the peptide bonds in proteins, proteases free up the amino acids needed by your body. A protease deficiency lowers protein-bound calcium in your blood that can lead to arthritis and osteoporosis. Protease digests unwanted bacteria and viruses in your blood and a protease deficiency can compromise your immune system, making you more susceptible to bacterial, viral or yeast infections. Poor protein digestion also leads to low blood sugar, expressed as moodiness, mood swings and irritability.


Amylase (amylolytic enzymes) breaks down carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are sugars and starches including sucrose, fructose, lactose and glycogen.

Amylase converts their polysaccharides into monosaccharides such as glucose, digests dead white blood cells, and naturally blocks IgG histamine, stabilising the body’s anti-inflammatory response. Too high an intake of carbs can chronically deplete amylase that in turn increases histamine-related health problems – for example, allergies, hay fever, sinus headaches, IBS symptoms, psoriasis, eczema, hives, insect bites, atopic dermatitis, herpes (all types). There is a link to asthma and lung problems and, if you often get acne, boils, abscesses or recurrent tooth infections, you may be low in amylase.


Lipase (pancreatic enzymes) make lipids (fats) soluble for the body.

Lipids come from triglycerides that form the fatty acids and glycerol found in the oils and fats in your diet. Lipase deficient people often have high cholesterol, high triglycerides, difficulty losing weight and a tendency to sugar in their urine and diabetes. A common symptom of lipase deficiency is muscle spasms, often experienced as pain in the muscles of the upper shoulders, although it can occur in other muscles, e.g. the neck or as spasms in the small or large intestines or muscles around the rectum. It is often implicated in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), whose symptoms include abdominal cramps or pain, bloating, constipation and diarrhoea.

by Monica Wilde
Research Herbalist