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Sports injuries: That’s why enzymes help!

by Josephine Andrews
Published: Last Updated on 391 views

If you scrape your knees while climbing or get hit by a basketball with full force, you need help quickly. In addition to poultices and healing ointments, many doctors and pharmacists recommend enzyme preparations . The protein-splitting active ingredients (proteolytic enzymes or proteases) are intended to accelerate healing processes – and not only in sports injuries, but also, for example, in surgical wounds.

Where are enzymes used?

Practically no biological process in humans, animals and plants takes place without the participation of enzymes. Whether growth, digestion, respiration or cell renewal – as bio-catalysts, enzymes control the individual processes or make them possible in the first place. Some of the protein splitters have an anti-inflammatory effect, for example, while others promote wound healing, improve blood circulation, strengthen the immune system or increase the effect of certain medications .

Enzymes are used alone or as an adjunctive therapy for a wide variety of diseases and complaints. These include, for example, inflammation, dental problems and sports injuries , but also cancer, rheumatic and vascular diseases and autoimmune diseases.

Enzymes in sports injuries

When joggers, soccer players & Co. injure their muscles or ligaments, doctors usually first recommend cold applications and compression, i.e. physical therapy measures. In some cases, their effect can be increased if additional proteolytic enzymes such as bromelain (pineapple enzyme) or trypsin (animal enzyme) are taken:

They can split and break down other proteins – for example, pro-inflammatory immune complexes that form in injured tissue. In studies, acute sports injuries that were associated with swelling, pressure pain, pain at rest and when moving, as well as bruising (haematomas) healed faster with the administration of bromelain than with physical treatment alone.*

enzymes for prevention

It is also being discussed whether it makes sense to take enzymes as a preventive measure: Injury-related swelling and pain should not even occur to the usual extent. Especially in football, ice hockey and boxing, where injuries are a daily occurrence, enzyme preparations are often taken as a preventive measure.


Enzyme therapy uses these different abilities of enzymes for healing purposes. The Scottish doctor John Beard (1857-1924) laid the basis of this healing process. In his search for a new therapy against cancer, he administered a mixture of animal and plant enzymes to tumor patients. The result: the tumors stopped growing and in some cases even regressed.

Researchers are now aware of a whole series of therapeutically effective enzymes. They are administered either with food or (mostly) as concentrated preparations (e.g. tablets, capsules). In addition to individual substances, combination preparations are often used.


Some studies have shown that enzymes help with various health problems (like inflammation or wounds). Other studies could prove little or no effectiveness.

However, there are a number of reports that proteases such as bromelain or trypsin heal wounds faster and swellings disappear faster.

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