Throw Away Your Digestive Enzyme Supplements.

Via Dr. John Douillard
on Sep 27, 2012
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The Truth About Digestive Enzymes

If you are taking digestive enzymes, you may have noticed two things: first, you digest way better when taking them and second, you begin to realize that you are becoming dependent on them.

You may think, “Am I going to need to take digestive enzymes for the rest of my life?”

Contrary to what you might have heard, the answer is no.

After 28 years of practice, it still amazes me how many people are taking digestive enzymes. We are told by an arsenal of pundits that the ability to make enzymes decreases with age and that we must all take digestive enzymes in order to digest our food properly.

I am a firm believer that we can all have the digestive strength of an 18-year-old, even as we age, without the help of pills or powders.

If your digestion is dependent on digestive enzymes, please join me as I share with you some digestive reset strategies.

Cleansing Casualties

A few years ago, I was honored to lecture with one of the most brilliant natural medicine doctors of our time, Bernard Jensen. He was in his 90s, and after writing 50 books, developing iridology and numerous colon cleansing therapies, I was shocked to find out that he was taking 17 digestive enzymes with every meal.

I had so much respect for this man; I just could not believe he was on digestive enzymes—let alone 17 with each meal. Interestingly, he had developed the first bentonite clay intestinal cleanse (which I did when I was 18) and the Colema Board, a slant board enema system.

When I heard he was on so many enzymes, I immediately thought of the hundreds of patients I have seen over the years that I’ve called “cleansing casualties”—folks who have cleansed themselves into having a digestive system that only works if they keep cleansing it.

It became painfully obvious in my practice that you can cleanse out the gut and feel great for a spell, but getting the gut to function on its own long after such a cleanse was the real test.

I was also struck by the antithetical approach Ayurveda uses to clean the colon. Rather than hosing the gut down with water, which can dry it out, Ayurveda suggests soaking the gut in herbalized oils that have a soothing and lubricating effect.

I also notices that Dr. Jensen’s belly was largely distended and bloated—a telltale sign that the villi inside the gut, and the lymph directly outside the gut, were congested and inflamed.

How Can Cleansing Your Colon Turn Off Digestive Strength?

The intestinal wall is dependent on a very delicate balance of not being too wet or too dry. We have all experienced dry skin after a shower. In the same way that water can dry out the outer skin, water enemas may slowly dry out the villi, forcing them to become dry or produce reactive mucus. As a result, your stools may become constipated, loose or both.

This intestinal irritation will congest the villi and force toxins through a default route back to the liver for a second chance to detoxify.

The toxins build up and slowly congest the liver. Thick bile slowly congests the gallbladder and bile ducts. Bile flow from the liver to the gallbladder to the intestines may become blocked.

Just before the bile duct reaches the small intestine, it joins with the pancreatic duct. Thick bile will block bile flow, as well as the flow of pancreatic (digestive) enzymes. Bile helps break down fat, scrubs the villi, escorts toxins out and much more. The pancreas produces those famous digestive enzymes. In one study, 46 percent of patients who had pancreatitis had thick or viscous bile, indicating that thick bile will affect the function of the pancreas.

Digestive Enzyme Summary

1.    Irritated intestinal villi: too dry or too loose.
2.    Toxins drain from the gut to the liver.
3.    The bile in the liver becomes congested.
4.    The bile becomes too thick to flow through the bile ducts.
5.    The gallbladder becomes congested.
6.    The thick bile congests the bile duct and pancreatic duct.
7.    Digestive enzymes cannot pass with the bile into the small intestine.

Alternatives to Digestive Enzymes

Now that you understand why we are lacking in these enzymes, you may ask, why not just decongest the bile and pancreatic ducts and improve the bile flow?

My sentiments exactly! Here’s how:

Step 1: Eat more raw beets and leafy greens. Greens should make up 2/3 of your plate. The cellulose in greens will attach to the toxic bile and escort it to the toilet like a non-stop flight!

Step 2: Drink fenugreek tea. It acts a decongestant for the bile ducts and helps support normal bile flow.

Step 3: Have cinnamon with every meal. Cinnamon supports healthy blood sugar while supporting health bile flow.

Step 4: Mix 1-2 tbsp of olive oil with 1-2 tsp of lemon juice. Shake and drink every morning or night on an empty stomach for one month. This will exercise the liver and gallbladder while supporting healthy bile flow in the bile and pancreatic ducts.

Step 5: Drink a big glass of water 15-20 minutes before each meal. This will super-hydrate your stomach, encouraging it to produce more hydrochloric acid and increasing the flow of bile and pancreatic enzymes.

Step 6: Consider regular detoxification of the liver and fat cells, which store toxins that are processed through the liver. Regularly cleansing these is an important piece of the puzzle when it comes to optimal digestion.


Editor: Brianna Bemel


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About Dr. John Douillard

Dr. John Douillard, DC, CAP is a globally recognized leader in the fields of natural health, Ayurveda and sports medicine. Over the past 30 years, he’s helped over 100,000 patients repair their digestive system and eat wheat and dairy again. He is the creator of, a leading Ayurvedic health and wellness resource on the web with over 6 million views on YouTube. LifeSpa is evolving the way Ayurveda is understood around the world with over 1000 articles and videos proving ancient wisdom backed by modern science. Dr. John is the former Director of Player Development and nutrition advisor for the New Jersey Nets NBA team, author of six books, a repeat guest on the Dr. Oz show, and has been featured in Woman’s World Magazine, Yoga Journal, the Huffington Post and dozens of other publications. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Receive his valuable health reports in your inbox - sign up for free! ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- For information on Dr. John's newest book, Eat Wheat, please visit, and connect with Dr. Douillard on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Eat Wheat is now available in bookstores. It can be ordered from Amazon, and all major booksellers.


85 Responses to “Throw Away Your Digestive Enzyme Supplements.”

  1. Jac says:

    I, too, avoid PPI's like the plague. I suffered with GERD for getting on for 40 years and single-handedly kept Rennie in business. When I was informed that I had a kidney insufficiency (no disease), I researched it thoroughly, and it seemed that the most useful thing I could take was a quarter teaspoon of sodium bicarbonate in water about an hour after each meal, and stop eating gluten foods. I do both of these and have not been bothered by GERD ever since starting it about 6 months ago. I can now eat a little of baked goods with gluten without symptoms, but only a little, but if I go a day without the sodium bicarbonate and straight away, soon as I lay down, is that reflux reminding me to get up and take a drink. 2 to 3 times a day is enough and no more than 1/4 teaspoon each time.

  2. Jnet says:

    I would try cutting OUT dairy. Dairy is causing a lot of problems – especially when you talk about "mucus". It is worth a try. But have to do it properly. There are a lot of substitutes for dairy these days. Coconut Oil is great and Coconut or Almond Milk etc. Just look in the shop. But you probably need to do it for a few months to see if it really helps. And probably means shopping for everything "dairy free". No Yoghurt or cheese – even lot of breads etc. I make my own cakes with coconut milk and coconut oil. Good luck.

  3. laura says:

    interesting — I do liver flushing from time to time and try and eat 75% raw— it is a good de-ager as well as helping the system…every thing benefits when you have a cleaner liver! check out this site I always sue epsom salts to clean bowel when doing the liver flush! I also notice my skin improves so much– even lines disappear! it's a mind set– you have to get it in your head that your body's health is priority! though, one also needs to look at emotional stuff too which effects body chemistry!

  4. justin says:

    yeah a guy who is in his 90’s should immediately stop doing what got him there. Good Advice.

  5. Nadia says:

    This isn't true. Digestive enzymes are well studied and have been used in orthodox medicine for many years. For example those who are lactose intolerant (ie their bodies do not produce the lactase enzyme) can be prescribed lactase enzymes to take with meals in order to allow them to digest lactose.

  6. Nichole Thalji says:

    I agree. I wish I could follow that with every meal, but unlikely. I have had my gallbladder removed & take Ursodial to increase bile when my bile duct is unhappy. I am lactose & fructose intolerant, so I take 1 enzyme with most meals unless all fresh vegs. Though mostly try to stay paleo, so no enzymes needed.

  7. Wendy says:

    I just watched an entire series on Natural Cancer Cures and most of those experts in alternative cancer treatment recommended Pancreatic Enzymes for those who had cancer. There wasn’t any mention of whether it was beneficial to use them to prevent cancer. It always amazes me how there are so many different and often conflicting opinions on EVERYTHING when it comes to health, even in the alternative/holistic health community. One could go crazy trying to “figure out” what IS really best.

  8. tery says:

    It distresses me that you obviously have not read Jensens story about why he was taking digestive enzymes. Bernard healed from prostate cancer and a broken back with enzyme therapy. All documented in his book Alive. I personally know Micheal O'Brien who is pictured and mention in the book as the Dr who assisted him. Who also healed his colon cancer with enzyme therapy.
    Your little suggestions are great for people who are healthy and able to eat properly. You do a diservice to those who are truly unhealthy tho.

  9. tery says:

    Agree. Kinda of silly.

  10. Farah says:

    Thanks for the insight, Dr. Douillard! I am interested in your opinion about probiotics. I always wonder if those are to be taken for the rest of my life.

  11. Cheryl says:

    Also those of us with SIBO can't break down our food into amino acids and essential fatty acids.

  12. S. Carter says:

    A wells, I too have had my gallbladder removed, but I have had so many problems with my stomach that I didn't know I could have prevented that, had I taken care of my gut. I'm doing the Amy Myers program now to fix this.

  13. Rita says:

    This is so not true. I had a steroid injection of Kenalog back in 2009. In just 7 months after that shot, I gained 65
    pounds. I have always been very slim, and eaten very healthy, drink mostly water and unsweetened green tea, exercised, and slept very well. The Kenalog injection killed off my immune system, and I aquired an Epstien Barr
    viral infection that knocked me on my butt and has stolen the last 5 years of my life from me. I lost almost all of my
    hair, was chronically fatigued for the last 4 years of my life, foggy headed with severe memory loss and inability to
    focus. Just trying to make it through a day at work was so challenging. I tried everything; prebiotics, probiotics,
    raw vitamin/mineral supplements, nascent iodine, infrared light therapy, clay detoxes, several other kinds of
    detoxes, full body massage, raw apple cider vinegar, raw honey for its enzymes, the list could go on and on. Recent labwork that I had done was showing all kinds of bad things. I was somehow low in iron, despite eating red meat, beans, raw pumpkin seeds, greens, etc. My body wasn't digesting and utilizing carbs or otger forms of sugar, I had a high count of white blood cells in my urine, yet no infection was present and not to mention suffering from the worst PMS on the planet. Just recently, I bought a complete, full spectrum digestive enzyme supplement and it is the ONLY thing that is working! I finally have energy for the first time in years! I would burn up to 400 calories a day working out and not one pound
    that I gained after that steroid shot would budge, and I've only been on this enzyme for 2 days and already some of my fat has whittled away! They may not be for everyone, but when you are like me, trying and trying and trying and nothing gives, this could possibly be a great solution.

  14. coco says:

    Pope John Paul used to get papaya flown from Israel to the Vatican to help with his digestive issues, so you are absolutely right

  15. Colleen says:

    Hi, great post! Just a quick questions, rather than fenugreek tea can one take a supplement capsule? Kind regards

  16. Elle Abbott says:

    Very helpful article, thank you! I was going crazy and couldn't figure out why every time I did a digestive enzymes routine I start gaining weight, almost 2 pounds a week no matter how much I workout and eat right. With a diet full of fresh greens too. After reading this it looks like I have a chronic issue due to too many enemas and colonics. It all makes sense now. THANK YOU!!

  17. pharmertom says:

    DCs like John and NDs like Bernard have minimal training in clinical pharmacology. They recommend things like colon cleanses which have never been proven to be effective for anything, except perhaps on a very short term basis; long-term use may be dangerous. The need for digestive enzymes is unproven, although they may have some benefit for those who have had a cholecystectomy.These guys recommend herbs and other products of dubious value, and the majority of which do not contain any of some of the products listed on the label (or much higher or lower doses) and can contain dangerous chemicals not even listed on the label. Talk to your physician or pharmacist if you want true facts.

  18. Tali says:

    I need some advice, i have had my gallbladder removed and was feeling okay up until now 4 months down the tack. I now have dark rings around my eyes, started having minor reflux, losing hair and decreased motivation and increased depression and anxiety symptoms.

    One other thing i have noticed is that my thyroid glands have swollen, and I have moments of manic bursts of energy and then am completely exhausted! I am on a liver tonic and probiotics and am trying to ensure i eat lots of leafy greens, increased my fiber intake and detoxify with apple cider vinegar, olive oils, lemons and fruit and veg. I am not a vegetarian however, I am being careful with meats with extra high-fat content. Oh and I have incorporated coconut oil into my diet. My main concern in not absorbing the essential vitamins needed for digestion! I also cannot seem to get rehydrated, no matter how much water I consume!

    Now my questions here are, what do i need to do to increase vitality? I am young 23 years, weigh 51 kg and height 156 cm, female. Please assist me in my issues as am so unsure about what steps to take!!!

  19. Dagmar says:

    Thank you for the article, I take digestive enzymes and this will help me gradually stop taking them.

    Step 2 – Suggesting the fenugreek tea, fenugreek offer a natural estrogen nutrient, as a woman who suffered from fibroid tumors and ovarian cyst, something I try to avoid.

    Thanks again!

  20. eilmurf says:

    Try colonics! And try Raw Living- eat fresh fruit and veggies as close to natural as you can get (no pestisides or chemicals). I juice and just started in on this lifestyle and it has led to a complete turn around. I feel for ya going through so much! Please dont give up there is hope and you can have a better quality of life. Trust me Ive been where you are and it's no fun.

  21. gr(e/a)y says:

    Wonderful article- I especially appreciated the description of how stress affects the digestive system. A relative has had TP-IAT which means that their digestive system is not normal, but it is helpful to hear how a normal digestive system works so I can better understand hers.

    A question: Would you suggest digestive enzymes to someone who cannot access raw fruits/vegetables or unprocessed foods? I work in an extremely remote environment where I don't have any control over what I ingest. I choose to be vegetarian while I'm there because the meat is so over-processed. As a result I mostly eat canned beans, steamed veggies, and oatmeal. I would love to help my gut this round by bringing something with me in addition to vitamins. I also don't want to find that I'm addicted to enzymes after I return to the States. In general, I opt for mostly raw & all organic foods. Your input would be appreciated!

  22. Lisa says:

    Have you gotten tested for Lyme? It is the great mimic of many ailments and will reek havoc on your system.

  23. Alex says:

    There are some truths to this article but honestly digestive enzymes and probiotics have done a world of good for my body over the years. The truth is you need a good brand you can trust that has clinical research behind it. I use the Transformation brand from the following store:

    Hope it helps!

  24. LHW says:

    Fenugreek, cinnamon and olive oil. 🙁 Another point scored by the health food industry against the salicylate sensitive. Why don't you just kill us already before the effects of what you're trying to feed us make our compulsions to do harm to ourselves go that far? It would be much less cruel, like putting a deathly ill animal to sleep. Call it "euthanasia", if you will.

  25. Alex says:

    While this articles does address some truths, the idea that digestive enzymes and probiotics can assist people in a targeted way with their digestive health has long been proven to be clinically truthful. Its more about trusting and understanding what a brand has to offer, and whether or not their products have been clinically tested.

    Jump on over to this website to see another viewpoint and also our recommended products:

  26. mimi says:

    your suggestions are for average people.. you saya to eat lots of raw veg.. i am 70 years old.. and i am not the only one that do not digest well ,, the gastric acid goes way down and in that same process the digestion.. many old people if you have notice.. eat less and watch everything they eat.. why? because of their digestion .. so digestive enzymes are great.. well great for me..


  27. Jasmin says:

    I was on Omeprazole for 15 years and tried to get off them many times but the acid reflux was just way too miserable. I finally went to a naturopathic doctor to help me get off them. She tried everything she had, and I still had terrible heartburn, belching, bloating, and back pain that came along with it. She said she had never had anyone NOT heal with her methods (Limonene, diet, enzymes, prebiotics, probiotics with water, probiotics meting in the mouth, etc), and she finally told me to take Tums when I had to; reminding me that stomach acid can do damage. That was a year ago. It's all gotten worse – the back pain has been especially excruciating, along with rib pain and gallbladder pain! X-rays show I have gallstones, so my doctor referred me out. I just saw the surgeon. He said he thought I would still have the same pain and digestive issues after surgery – many people do. He really didn't feel my stones were the issue and said he didn't have an answer. He said he would do the surgery if I insist but no one who is gluten free, doesn't eat out, eats only healthy oils and nothing fried, should have painful gallbladder attacks from eating lean meats, fruits, and vegetables. I was stunned. (I would go 2 days at a time without eating because eating would cause me hours and hours of intense pain.) That was three weeks ago.

    Desperate, I researched and decided to start taking FOOD GRADE Diatomaceous Earth / DE, for the first time, for another health issue. To my complete shock, on the 3rd day, I started passing 1000s and 1000s of dead parasites. Blecht! I passed one that was particularly big and ugly. I looked it up online. It's was liver fluke! Since then, I have had a lot of relief (probably close to 90%) but still feel discomfort at times and mild digestive issues (HOWEVER, ha ha, I must have gotten the most aggressive one first). I understand they take some time to completely kill off! Sometimes years, I hear………….

    My husband started taking it when I did, 3 weeks ago, for allergies, blood pressure and muscle cramps. Just like me, he knew he didn't have parasites! But, whoa, he does too! His results have been even more dramatic than mine. 🙂

    I say all this to say two things: (1) I don't know how I could have survived without Garden of Life q-Zyme enzymes to support my liver, gallbladder, and pancreas through this. Except for not eating for a couple days at a time, q-Zyme was the only thing that helped avoid SOME burning, belching, bloat, and pain. It is indeed a good brand. (I will still need them until I'm completely rid of flukes.) However, I'm very encouraged to get off them later when I get myself completely cleaned up. I am very encouraged by this article and hope to be able to follow it in the next few months to a year. (2) You might consider FOOD GRADE DE if you're still having any health problems. Please Google it and check out the different ways it has help others..

  28. aceun says:

    Huh? A bit melodramatic, don't you think?

  29. Pete says:

    Interesting article, and the guy makes some good points. As someone with chronic health conditions, who has to take meds twice a day every day, I'd say that daily enzyme supplements, a pill which makes most people feel better without many side effects, is not that bad of a fate.

    And sure, people can argue that "humans shouldn't have to live like that," but don't you think we are a bit past that in this society?

  30. Memma White says:

    I prefer quality to quantity. No one lives forever. If enzyme therapy enhances my quality of life, I am not going to worry about any other effects, whatever they may be. Something will kill you, one way or another.

  31. william scales says:

    I have been diagosed the on set of cancer in the blood , commonly called miloma , this is protin being produced in the bone marrow and thrown into the blood steam , but all of the symtoms of emzyme problems i have had for the last 2 years , ie cramps bloating runny stools wind , i have had scans cameras down my throat to my stomach and the other end and yet they have told me they cannot find the problem , yet 3months ago i was hit with this bad news , looking through all the items on emzyms deficiency seem to point to all my problems for the last 2 years ,i am having no treatment as yet from the heamatolagist, any advise on how to reverse my bad gut and how to stop the bone marrow producing protine into my blood .

  32. vince says:

    Have you tried probiotics? I have battled bad constipation until I started taking probiotics (Natures Way brand) and they have really helped me. I believe there are 5 strains of bacteria that are necessary in the gut so your probiotic should have at least 3 or all 5. Also, I have cut out all wheat products and really cut down my sugar intake and I have been regular for some time now and feeling much better.

  33. billy says:

    what full spectrum digestive enzyme supplement did you buy?

  34. Katie says:

    Awesome article. I’ve been struggling with digestive problems for about a year now, it all started when I went Paleo to address supposed food allergy symptoms. The lack of yogurt had a huge effect, and probiotic supplements are now a regular thing for me. However there still seems to be more to it. I took defective enzymes for about 3 months because my stomach acid was at a pH level of 10. :/ So those pills helped that very much and I haven’t needed to revisit them since I finished. I’m a firm believer in trying to let your body regulate itself as much as possible, and just generally having good eating habits: whole, unprocessed foods, etc. I think I may still have some damage control to do in terms of getting my tract back up to snuff. I am drinking a liver support tea, but I’m going to add these tips and see how my tummy fares.

    Digestive problems seem to be popping up a lot in health discussions lately. It’s great because the digestive system is one of the most integral systems in maintaining overall health, and it’s also highly susceptible to your daily habits, and it’s bacteria can be altered from bad eating habits, to keep your body craving unhealthy foods. That blew me away when I learned that. Be kind to your body! This also means don’t get too Gung ho about interfering. 😛

  35. David Kynaston says:

    I find supplementation a must as someone living without a gall bladder. Try living without one and then tell us how it is we are better off not supplementing. Eating enough of all these liver support foods is simply out of the question for me. I suffer constipation (not diarrhea) and as a result ended up with an anal fissure. These are but just a few of the complex side effects to living life without a gall bladder. I know for a FACT that for myself and my own experiences, that supplementation makes me a lot healthier than no supplementation. It's not as straight forward as this presentation suggests when you factor in people who have NO gall bladder.
    If you don't have a gall bladder and live without supplementation – then please do share.