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Why You Should Take a Digestive Enzymes Supplement for Heartburn Symptoms

written by: Rochelle Connery • edited by: BStone • updated: 3/19/2011

A digestive enzymes supplement can assist in breaking down food as the stomach digests it, thereby preventing certain heartburn symptoms and relieving the heartburn sufferer. Find out how taking digestive enzymes can improve the way your body handles food and promote a healthy stomach.

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    What Are Enzyme Supplements for Heartburn?

    A digestive enzymes supplement is either a supplement consisting of one digestive aid or an enzyme combination of many digestive aids. These enzymes are taken with food to help the stomach digest the food without causing a lot of acid production and spillage out of the stomach into the esophagus.

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    Different Enzymes and Ingredients

    Digestive enzyme supplements contain enzymes and possibly other ingredients that serve a couple of purposes. The first, of course, is to aid in digestion. The second is to actually relieve some of the heartburn symptoms in a sufferer’s body.

    Papain: Papaya supplements contain papain, which is widely known for helping stomach digestion. You can take papaya enzymes on their own much of the time, but you’ll also find it combined with other natural supplements, like slippery elm and marshmallow root, for aiding digestion. Some people might experience slight irritation or an allergic reaction after taking supplements with papain, but this is most likely after taking way too much of the enzyme.

    Lipase: Lipase comes from a variety of plants, bacteria and mold. It is a protein that helps speed up digestion, relieve heartburn, and even improve how some people react to gluten allergies. It is possible that lipase may prompt diarrhea or nausea after being taken.

    Bromelain: Bromelain is an enzyme that comes from pineapple. It works in a number of capacities within the body. Two common ones are assisting in digestion and alleviating heartburn. Bromelain isn't often taken on its own, but works in conjunction with other enzymes like pepsin, which also assist in overall digestion. Not everyone has the desired experience with this enzyme, however. Sometimes the enzyme backfires, and users end up getting indigestion, diarrhea and upset stomach. Those with asthma should use caution with bromelain, while those with peptic ulcers should avoid it altogether.

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    Taking Supplements

    Certain digestive enzymes supplement types are developed for differing purposes, so not all supplements are for the same purpose even though they all tackle digestive issues. Those with an inflamed esophagus might take a particular enzyme formula while one with diarrhea problems and other stomach troubles should take supplements relating to those conditions.

    When do you take these digestive supplements, you might ask. When you first implement them into your daily eating routine, you’ll probably take at least two per meal. You might take only one with breakfast if you don’t eat much for breakfast or don’t tend to experience the severe symptoms in the morning.

    You should generally take the supplement before the last few bites at the end of your meal. That way, the supplements get a chance to work with the food, but aren’t the first things to hit your stomach.

    Sources:

    My own experience with enzymes and heartburn

    Enzyme Formulations: Enzyme Solutions

    Natural Health School: The Digestive System

    Enzymes Explained: Enzymes & Nutrition

    About.com: Bromelain - What You Need to Know