What is Systemic Enzyme Therapy?

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Enzymes are important compounds that are required to complete many processes in the body. Enzymes are unique because they work as catalysts to assist in chemical reactions. You can imagine enzymes as a counselor mediating a conversation between two individuals. They help turn one compound into another. You may be familiar with this process if you have ever heard of digestive enzymes. Enzymes are produced by the digestive system to break down the food you eat. You actually have enzymes in your mouth right now! The small salivary glands in your mouth produce enzyme-rich saliva to help properly digest the chicken salad you just had for lunch.


Enzymes aren’t just used for digestion, however. Certain types of enzymes can also be used to positively impact the inflammation process in the body. When proteolytic enzymes are taken orally to support inflammation rather than digestion, they are part of something called Systemic Enzyme Therapy (SET). Proteolytic enzymes were first widely used as a treatment in Germany in the 1960s.1 For many years, proteolytic enzymes, also referred to as proteinases (enzymes that work to break down proteins) have been recommended to support pain and inflammation related to musculoskeletal issues, arthritis, and surgery recovery.2,3 These proteolytic enzymes are taken on an empty stomach, allowing them to pass freely through the stomach without taking a pit stop to work on breaking down food. Then, they are absorbed in the small intestine where they are allowed to work in body fluids and tissues.4


In a very complicated biochemical process, proteolytic enzymes encourage the body to maintain healthy inflammatory processes, possibly by increasing the release of reactive oxygen species (a type of free radical) from white blood cells.1,4 A study in 2016 found that Systemic Enzyme Therapy had significant effects on fatigue, muscle soreness, and muscle damage in male athletes. In addition, SET also encouraged a reduction in inflammatory markers.4

In the 1940s, one of the most well-studied enzyme therapy supplements called Wobenzym originated in Germany.6 Wobenzym contains a mix of many enzymes like papain, bromelain, trypsin, and the flavonoid, rutin. Rutin is an antioxidant that has been shown to reduce oxidative stress during times of inflammation in the body.4 Studies show that when compared to a pharmaceutical anti-inflammatory, Wobenzym was just as effective in relieving pain and improving joint function in individuals with degenerative joint disease. In addition, Wobenzym reduced the need to use pain killers and presented fewer side effects. For individuals suffering from muscle soreness following a difficult workout, have a muscle-related injury, or have joint issues, trying enzyme therapy may be a good option.


Interested in trying Persona’s supplements or want to add Wobenzym to your pack? Take our online assessment or speak to a Nutritionist online.


  1. Proteolytic enzymes. Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. https://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/integrative-medicine/herbs/proteolytic-enzymes. Updated May 17, 2019. Accessed June 29, 2020.
  2. Paradis M, Couture P, Gigleux I, et al. Impact of systemic enzyme supplementation on low-grade inflammation in humans. Pharma Nutrition. 2015;3(3):83-88.
  3. Barrett AJ, McDonald JK. Nomenclature: protease, proteinase and peptidase. Biochem J. 1986;237(3):935. doi:10.1042/bj2370935
  4. Marzin T, Lorkowski G, Reule C, et al. Effects of a systemic enzyme therapy in healthy active adults after exhaustive eccentric exercise: a randomised, two-stage, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial. BMJ Open Sport Exerc Med. 2017;2(1):e000191. Published 2017 Mar 12. doi:10.1136/bmjsem-2016-000191
  5. Reactive oxygen species. National Cancer Institute. https://www.cancer.gov/publications/dictionaries/cancer-terms/def/reactive-oxygen-species. Accessed June 29, 2020.
  6. Über Wobenzym. Wobenzym. https://www.wobenzym.de/ueber-wobenzym/. Accessed June 29, 2020.

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