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. Kristen says:

    Dr. Douillard, great post! How do you feel about coffee enemas? Can you explain a little more about the herb-infused oil enemas?

    I still feel one digestive enzyme is ok before meals especially if you're eating garbage. I don't know about you but the majority of the public will not eat raw beets and greens with every meal. Although they should, it just won't happen the majority of the time. I find it's an easier transition on both client and their digestive system if they begin with an ezyme supplement.
    Fermented foods also contain a bunch of enzymes and should be eaten regularly.

  2. emilyalp says:

    Excellent article!!

  3. Andrea says:

    you can't eat consume an enzyme and expect it to have a biological effect in your body, the stomach is designed to break up proteins (what makes up enzymes). digestive enzymes are a waste of money. in addition, your body has the MOST sophisticated forms of "cleansing" built in. Take good care of it, eat well, get plenty of sleep, etc. There is nothing you can take to enhance this process. Don't buy into this.

  4. Excellent! Thank you for writing and posting.

  5. Pete M. says:

    The late herbalist Dr. Christopher recommended a pinch of powdered cayenne pepper in warm water before a meal to naturally stimulate your own digestive process and enzymes in lieu of adding the enzymes from outside sources…

  6. Muks says:

    Thanks for the article. To be honest, I had no idea there are people taking digestive enzymes on a regular basis. Well, now I know it would not be a good idea 😉 Thanks

  7. Kim says:

    What if you already had your gallbladder removed? Then should you take enzymes?

  8. […] stress-related digestive distress, a degenerative stress response is driven into every cell of the body. Depending on your genetic […]

  9. […] used apple cider vinegar for its incredible cleansing, healing and energizing qualities. It improves digestion because it is packed with malic and tartaric acids that aid digestion by speeding up fat and […]

  10. Gina Love 17 says:

    I have been taking the Lady Soma Probiotics for about 1 year now and I can't belive the difference it makes in my digestive health! My OB/GYM reccomended Lady Soma. I have had stomach/instestinal problems my whole life and I have diagnosed with IBS. since taking the probiotics I have seen alot of improvement.

  11. brad says:

    fruits like papaya and pineapple HAVE enzymes in them that help digestion especially of proteins. Most other types of enzymes will not get past the stomach which will just digest them.
    I keep hearing from the "PRO'S" that no enzymes help, they all get digested ASAP.
    Thats NOT true.

    I can feel the difference when taking papian or eating papaya or pineapple.
    people have been using them for thousands of years.

    the Hawains have used pineapple when they cook pork since time began for them.

  12. brad says:

    The problem is people dont eat FRUITS and veggies like they should.
    When they eat meat, and carbs with no fiber and natural enzymes … there is the problem.

    IF you choose to eat that way, then YES i would take papian or other enzymes
    but why not just eat the fruit ?
    As a vegetarian, i dont have those problems

  13. I must agree with this. I never trusted those pharma made supplements for enzymes. I prefer foods with pro-biotics like organic carrots.

  14. Melly F says:

    I unfortunately have Barretts syndrome and must take a PPI to lower my stomach acid. This often leaves me feeling like I swallowed rocks when I eat/digest. (takes forever) I believe for me, digestive enzymes are necessary. Any thoughts?

  15. Some people cannot eat veggies like they should. I am one of them. It is not because I do not want to. My body does not digest them properly. I wind up with real bad stomach pains and constipated to where even laxatives or softeners takes two or three days to work. And all taking things like Metamucil does it bulk things up more. When constipated it is already bulked up, too much.

  16. joey says:

    FACT Doctors dont know crap about health or supplementation. talk to a natural path. You CANNOT group all people in one generalized opinion. I have been taking enzymes for 15 yrs. and I dont continuously do so. Just when I eat not so good food. I am very healthy and eat healthy. Some of you may need them. some of you may not. some of you may need alternative options.
    Here is a Fact about doctors (the ones that spout off stuff). nutrition is an elective in there schooling. most docs with such opinions have graduated from university YEARS ago and got swept up in their practices and residencies. Do you think they kept up on "knowledge" about nutrition and supplementation. im pretty sick of these sites. GO SEE A NATURALPATH.

  17. elephantjournal says:

    (and I agree, joey—I'd be lost without mine!). Cheers, Sara

  18. Princess says:

    Listen, I was “diagnosed” with acid reflux back in 2009. Turns out it really was lpr or silent reflux which I figured out on my own after the meds I was given did nothing. Anyway, I had tried modifying my diet, teas, herbal tinctures, apple cider vinegar, juicing, etc. but NOTHING has worked as well as the enzymes I am taking now. My main problem is that I get mucus stuck in my throat so I’m constantly clearing it. With the enzymes I’m taking now, instantly improved. I am not clearing my throat as much and I can tell my overall digestion is better. I am taking q-Zyme by garden of life and it’s an amazing product. I’m also taking the raw vitamins for women. I don’t want to take these forever but I’m hoping to build my digestive strength back to normal but until that happens, I will stick with these. I am 30 btw.

  19. Margie says:

    Hi Melly, PPIs are very dangerous and really should only be used short term, however the medical fraternity is hell
    bent on prescribing them. I realise you have Barrets (as do I), however I stopped my PPIs (they weren't really helping with the pain) and changed my diet to Paleo with great success. Weaning off PPIs can be a bit difficult, but I used apple cider vinegar before meals for about a month and it worked wonders. PPIs prevent vital minerals and vitamins from being absorbed, so try to get off them. Good luck.

  20. susa Moccia says:

    There are those of us that suffer from Gastro paresis and can't eat and digest veggies or fiber. Compounded with GERD. My doctors constantly increase my PPI. it's a viscious cycle. We are at the mercy of our doctors that insist that is the way to go. However there isn't a lot of mention about digestive enzymes from them. I was told to take Iberogast that is all natural flower herbs and roots to aid digestion.

  21. Tracy says:

    My 28 yr old daughter has had gallstone like pain symptoms since she had her gallbladder out at 17. I think she has sphincter of oddy. Is there something she can take or do? She has a horrible diet which I am sure does not help. Also I have a very distended abdomen, I am 50 by the way, I look pregnant. I have a so so diet. What can I do to reduce this horrible bulge. I have had my gb out too

  22. Dag says:

    Very well written, but not related to a real life of what most people live today. All the steps above are very good and probably will do off with the issue, but who have time and remember to do it on top of it. After many visits to specialists for a really bad bowl with weekly visits for shots to cure stomach pain, the supplements for enzymes have solved and restored my wife to a normal life. It may not have solved the body functions, but it is far better than repeatedly go on acid reducing medicine for years at the time. The supplements for enzymes have made us possible to have a normal life again.

  23. Sirron says:


  24. JAV says:

    Very interesting article and I would say I agree, but there are those exceptions. I have a confirmed dx of microscopic colitis and eating raw veggies and fruit, and even many steamed or cooked, causes complete havoc in my system. I wish I could sit down and eat a big healthy salad but I pay for it for several days after. I have not even been able to find a good digestive enzyme that actually helps me. Most of the time I eat, I have pain and bloating and feel pretty terrible. For those healthy individuals who can eat "fresh", I really envy you!

  25. Clo says:

    How do you detox the liver and fat cells as he recommends? Thanks in advance to anyone that replies.

  26. mygz says:

    Hi Tracy, I'm no expert, but i've been there. apparently, bulges are caused by accumulated fats that the body is not able to process, it also has something to do with the liver having difficulty filtering the toxins. I had to do detox, and good supplementation helped a lot in providing my body with the nutrients i don't get from my food.

  27. Gail says:

    I took hepasil, its a very powerful and effective liver detox supplement by usana, and its been really a great help for me.

  28. Jen says:

    PPI's are counter productive. The real reason for indigestion is a lack of stomach acid. There fore most of the protein sits in the stomach with a small amount of acid and gets pushed back up the esophagus and causes damage. I recently found out that taking 2 tbsp. of apple cider vinegar helps relieve indigestion. It stimulates the natural production of stomach acid that in turn breaks down the proteins and moves them to the stomach.

  29. David says:

    I would like to add that the author’s logic has some serious flaws. He starts out talking about how water enemas dry out the villi and then makes a leap to enzymes drying the the villi, with no explanation of why or how this might happen. I submit that if you are concerned about intestinal issues in general you should be taking a fiber supplement to sooth the intestinal tract. You need this for the same reason you should be taking enzyme supplements and probiotics, namely the soil depleted, overly processed, and cooked food foods most of us eat has most of the fiber, probiotics, and enzymes removed from it. The idea that you become dependent on such a regimen is kind of silly. Of course you are dependent on fiber, digestive enzymes, and probiotics! If our food supply were not so depleted all of these things would be natural part of our diet. I personally use a very powerful probiotic powder to make my own yogurt, which I mix with two heaping tables of powdered fiber mixture (again my own mix of flax seed, acacia, psyllium, and berry purée. Add to that some Korean Kimchi, sauerkraut, or pretty much any other fermented vegetable and you will greatly improve your intestinal health.

  30. David says:

    For those were asking about where to find a good enzyme and other supplement here are some recommendations: Wholezyme ultra from Whole Foods Market is the most potent reasonably priced enzyme supplement I have been able to find. VSL#3 is the most powerful probiotic on the market and is designed specifically with colitis, pouchitis, Crohn’s, and IBS in mind. In powdered form it also makes a great yogurt starter with right type cultures for your gut. Hearher’s Tummy fiber is an acacia fiber that will not cause bloating and cramping, but will soothe the intestinal tract. I am not affiliated with any of these companies. I have colitis myself and this info is the result of.much trial and error on my part. Hope this helps.

  31. VERY good and helpful article

  32. Bruce Christiansen says:

    Wow, I think someone is for ever learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. I am still waiting for the light and knowledge. For me, I think I will just take in what God intended me to eat and drink. Thank you very much.

  33. Kanaka Maoli Wahine says:

    Uh… no. We Indigenous Hawaiians (Kanaka Maoli) have NOT used pineapple when cooking or eating pork since time began for us. Our ancestors hailed from islands in the southern Pacific Ocean and most likely Indonesia before that.

    The pineapple is indigenous to South America. We never tasted pineapple until it was introduced to our islands at the very end of the 19th century. A far far cry from "time began".

  34. zdenka says:

    I have been diagnosed with pancreatic insufficiency , its genetic as my son has it too, but he still produce some enzymes. I have to take Creon with every meal, any suggestion that would help me. I have big difficulty to put on weight. thanks zdenka

  35. Jasmine286 says:

    I have recently started eating Beets everyday,, Cooked as it is difficult to eat then raw.. The results were very good!!

  36. Aliwah says:

    Thank you for this great post!

  37. I get horrible heartburn sometimes. I found a complex called "stomach defense", took it for a while instead of the usual pharma stuff, and it worked for me. I did not keep taking it, but have a bottle on hand.

  38. Lori says:

    Hi – thanks for providing this information. Could you please further explain Step #6?

  39. A wells says:

    I'm in the same boat, stomache is huge and not I. Proportion with rest of my body. Doesn't matter what I eat! I'm desperate. I a pit to try the enzymenes.

  40. janice32 says:

    I am regular for the first time in memory ( I am 62). I definitely feel less bloating,less cramping, and thankfully, less constipation. My personal regimen is to take 1 Lady Soma Fiber Cleanse Capsule first thing in the morning before breakfast. I am good for the day.

  41. Marcus says:

    Another Doctor who has to add his two cents, with a product for sale of course! The fact that he is affiliated with a company that SELLS DIGESTIVE AIDS says it all! I suggest to everyone here to actually look the biological mechanisms of enzymes before following blindly. There is plenty of PEER REVIEWED EVIDENCE that suggests due to a lack of certain enzymes, or inactive enzymes, inflammation occurs in the body which leads to many diseases (over 200 have been linked at least)! Please read widely guys because obviously this guy is just in it for the money! This video is an absolute joke!

  42. Great info…thanks for posting this. I have been using digestive enzyme now for about a year and a half. It was the first thing that i bought from renegade health after following the blog for almost two years. All really helpful.

  43. Anne says:

    I agree, I have no gallbladder and just started taking digestive enzymes and probiotics and I cannot beleive the difference in how i feel. 1 per meal eventually hoping to just take it with biggest meal of the day.

  44. David says:

    I found that regularily having my bowels ‘blown’ ala ‘the rusty tuba’ has been working wonders. It has become a regular practice for us here in the sect.

  45. nooneofit says:

    I will say this yes those things all those may work in so way and order.. but the one thing that never fails is you.. your system it is ultimately going to come down to you and what you are willing to get up out and move to do to get the bowels to move .. I see so many people thinking they are doing it right they have the answer it works because it works .. meaning because you believe it does.. If you want the cure… DRINK WATER.. okay first step done… Second get out.. move and still drink water!- next squat like you were about to take a shit outdoors… :S I know but hey watch out you may just end up shitting. Next and this one ugh! is the hardest and I mean you will feel like you are about to bust open maybe blow a spleen or your bladder but trust me that's bull. Drink more even if you feel… YOU HAVE TO URINATE… let it pass and the only way this will happen is if … you know how to use your kegel muscles… do that it passes I mean hold your damn pee… now it passes that feeling okay keep going you can stop moving if you wish as this will bring about the urination feelings again.. if you squat it will do the same so I suggest sit.. do whatever helps you not feel like you don't have to goooo so bad… but you have to you must hold it in three times seems to do it for me.. Yeah holding that wave back THREE TIMES! 😛 it's hard.. but it will.. okay see what it does is strengths that muscle. The other you want to strengthen as far as I have been able to find out on my own … my self study is the Obliques the muscles on either side of the gut stomach or abs if you will. I mean really try laying down and try.. just try to bring your hip up to the elbow. Exercices is usually the key here and if you are too overweight your doc will want to give you something.. 😐 Do not do it… trust me it'll hurt you more in the long run .. I mean how hard is it to get out and move bike if you have to but Please please don't take some freaking drug.. 🙁 I'm so sick and tired of that… aren't you people? See taking drugs won't do either as the body will adjust and so the bicitra can thrive.. it's the same for everything.. What worked before may not work later on .. down the road. THings change and so do bacteria and virus that's why they make new new meds.. most of which are nothing more than some type of sugar and or the same as the last one but with a bit changed in it so it by passes the virus and flushes it out … your digestive system is key it's what harbours sooo many things .. the good the bad and the ugly. you don't' ever want the ugly that means things have gotten too far gone and you'll have to get surgery or something of that nature.. take care of your stomach and below and it takes care of the rest.

    The main thing is to get that Major Posa to get working that is the Digestive muscle it is hardwired to that.. to the stomach small and large Intestine. 😉 So work that and it may help it may just get things moving… and see if you can't work it or other areas of the body then that area of your body… Fails it will stay in that state. So muscle does play a part here.

  46. Rosy says:

    thanks for this post Dr. John. This post is very nice and very informative post, It is really very helpful for us. Yes, You are right. I freely agree with your all opinion. I should try to follow this advise. Thank you again.

  47. lee says:

    I completely agree. These proton pump inhibitors are a danger to the public. They can deplete the body of minerals and co-10! The stomach NEEDS acid to function properly. I was taking Nexium for a few years, until I went overseas. The overseas gastrointerologist informed me of the importance of stomach enzyme (Hydrochloric acid) and that we are overly and unnecessarily prescribed medication. I stopped the Nexium and have been doing well for more than 10 years! I occasionally have acid reflux, whenever I eat the wrong foods, but when I have a flare up, I eat better and completely avoid the foods I believe are causing the problem.

  48. Wendy says:

    Quite easy really! try fasting one day a month, or if possible one day a week, I do this when I want a day off cooking for my husband as I am a vegetarian but he's not !! The olive oil and lemon juice which Dr. John already suggests is another excellent idea. Even equal parts organic maple syrup and lemon juice, 20mls of each, in a glass of water with a pinch of cayenne pepper, is a popular detox method, its called the Lemon Detox. All it takes is the will power to do it.

  49. Esworth Anderson says:

    Hi, I must talk, I am constipated for over 40 Years I am now over 73 years old, My condition is so bad that I am Suicidal because when I get so bound up I get irritable, When the stool is hard it comes out with some thick mucus in it even when it is soft it sticky and cling to the toilet. I am a vegetarian for well over 40 years but nothing works, If I take laxative it only works for a while it affect me in every part of my Life, It if this thick substance that seems to be produced by my body now I get tingling in my feet and fingers, my toes are disfigured, the sole of my feet roll like I am standing on a ball so I fell over all caused by this illness, I cannot get rid of this thick mucus like substance from my system,

  50. esworth Anderson says:

    I find the article very interesting and educational and as I am seeking some advice and information myself I will be paying some attention and making use of this information.