A team of researchers has proposed a potential alternative therapy for pain and inflammation surrounding the potent anti-inflammatory activities of proteolytic (protein-digesting) enzymes. Researchers looked at the viability of three reputable proteolytic enzymes and the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) aspirin, as well as their possible interactions in reducing various states of inflammation.
The results of these studies provide strong evidence that various proteolytic enzymes – specifically trypsin, chymotrypsin and serratiopeptidase (serrapeptase) – can significantly reduce inflammation when taken alone and deliver a synergistic effect when taken in low doses with aspirin without an increased risk of ulceration. The latter concept can be a breakthrough for those who take NSAIDs to treat chronic inflammation, as this population is at high risk of developing stomach ulcers with long-term conventional NSAID use.
To conduct their study, the research team used rat models with experimentally produced acute and sub-acute inflammation. Acute inflammation was produced by injecting carrageenan, a gelatinous extract from seaweed, in the right hind paw of animals to simulate edema. Sub-acute inflammation was produced by implanting cotton pellets subcutaneously, or just under the skin, forming a granuloma.
These rats were looked at in groups differentiated by various treatment methods. Rats that were injected with saline solution were used as the control group. Experimental treatments consisted of trypsin, chymotrypsin, serrapeptase, aspirin, and an enzyme-aspirin combination. Treatment was administered 3 minutes prior to inducing inflammation and was repeated once daily for ten days.
The researchers assessed the level of edema produced by the injection by measuring the change in volume of the paw. Serrapeptase showed better anti-inflammatory activity on acute inflammation than trypsin, chymotrypsin, and aspirin.
The cotton pellet was removed after ten days and dry weight was taken to measure the amount of fibrin that had been broken down. Serrapeptase was found to be more effective at reducing mass size than trypsin, chymotrypsin, and aspirin in the sub-acute model of inflammation.
While the lowest dose of all three proteolytic enzymes failed to be effective, they possessed a synergistic effect when taken in low doses with low doses of aspirin in both acute and sub-acute models of inflammation.
The stomach was also inspected and measured for ulcers. The serrapeptase, chymotrypsin, and trypsin treated animals showed a significant reduction in damage to the stomach as compared to the control. Enzyme-aspirin combinations showed a significant reduction when compared with aspirin treated animals.
While all forms of treatment proved to be effective at some level, the results seemed to favor the use of serrapeptase as a feasible anti-inflammatory alternative.
The research team stills need to confirm the results in clinical trials on people, but the findings offer support for treatment options including systemic enzymes like serrapeptase that may change how inflammation is treated and possibly prevented.
Control your inflammation and take charge of your health!
SOURCE: Indian Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences. 2008; 70(1):114-117.