Summer is coming and at the same time the number of sports injuries is increasing again. Whether it is jogging, cycling, climbing or playing football - one inattention is enough and already the ankle is sprained or the arm is bruised. For some years, such sports injuries also enzyme preparations are used therapeutically.
What happens during a sports injury in our body?
The effects of blunt force tear blood and lymphatic vessels at the site of the injury and blood and lymphatic fluid escape into the tissue - a swelling develops and usually at the same time a bruise. In addition, the pressure of the swollen tissue causes pain to local nerve endings.
In the course of the repair of the damaged area, an increased inflammatory reaction and increased tissue temperature lead to a slight inflammatory reaction at the site of the injury. The entire healing process and degradation of the injury-related tissue substances are involved in various endogenous enzymes.
For example, in a bruise, the degradation of the hemoglobin, which has entered the tissue, into the yellow-brown bile pigment bilirubin occurs via enzymes. The initially blue-red bruise finally takes on a yellow-brown color and fades.
Enzyme preparations are designed to support the body's own enzymes
Traditional physical therapy for a blunt trauma such as a bruise or sprain involves cooling and compressing the damaged part of the body.
In order to support and increase these therapeutic measures, proteolytic, ie protein-cleaving, enzymes are added to the enzyme therapy. In particular, trypsin is used as an animal, protein-splitting enzyme or bromelain, a mixture of pineapple enzymes, as a plant-based active ingredient. The substrate of the pineapple plant has been used by the Indians of Central and South America for hundreds of years for injuries.
According to controlled studies, sports injuries caused by the administration of bromelain are able to reduce swelling and alleviate pain in the injured body region more quickly than if only physical therapies were used. By splitting the proteins, which have penetrated from the blood into the damaged tissue, the shredded waste can be transported faster from the body's disposal system. This explains the faster decline of the swelling and, consequently, the pressure pain.
Enzyme preparations are therefore considered as a supplement or alternative to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which are often prescribed as analgesics in sports injuries.
Preventive use is controversial
In sports medicine, some prophylactic use of enzyme supplements is advised, especially in sports where injuries are almost regular, such as football, handball or boxing. It is assumed that under the influence of the enzymes, swelling and pain do not even occur to such a large extent. Whether this measure makes sense, however, is discussed differently in professional circles.
Rarely, side effects are observed
Enzyme preparations are available as active ingredient combinations or as mono-preparations on the market. With regard to the combination of active ingredients, it must be remembered that this may possibly lead to incompatibility reactions to the animal ingredients contained.
Bromelain has been approved as a single agent since 1997 as the main agent of the plant enzyme active ingredients. Since bromelain would be destroyed by gastric acid unprotected, the active substance in dragées and tablets is protected by an enteric coating. Thus, the enzymes can pass through the intestinal mucosa and reach the damaged area with the blood circulation.
Side effects are rare. Occasionally, allergic reactions or transient gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea or stomach discomfort are observed. It is recommended to take enzyme preparations between and not at mealtimes.