Ingredient Science

How Do Systemic Enzymes Work Beyond Digestion? The Answer is in the Timing*

June 14, 2023 by Enzymedica Team
How Do Systemic Enzymes Work Beyond Digestion? The Answer is in the Timing*

Digestive enzymes are taken with meals to help break down foods faster (for more energy and better nutrient absorption). Systemic enzymes are taken between meals on an empty stomach.* This timing is everything: They can go beyond the digestive system, into the bloodstream – and to the specific cells and tissues that need their help.* Health begins in the gut, but it doesn’t stop there. These enzymes help support your whole self with enzymes, so you can get back to living life to the fullest!*

What Are Systemic Enzymes vs. Digestive Enzymes?

Let’s start by reviewing what enzymes are and what they do. These proteins are found in every single cell in the human body, and they play an important role in cell function and activity. The most basic definition of an enzyme is a catalyst that speeds up a chemical reaction within a cell.

As the enzyme experts, we are best-known for the digestive enzyme supplements we offer. (We’re looking at you, Digest Gold™ aka America’s #1 best-selling digestive enzymes supplement.) But the work of enzymes goes far beyond digestion, so we offer products that support your body beyond digestion!*

With 1,300 in every cell and tens of thousands in the body, enzymes support every tissue and function.* Systemic enzymes support the immune system and help break down excess mucus made by immune responses. They also offer targeted support for recovery, circulation and cardiovascular function.*

Nearly all external threats contain proteins that must be identified, broken down and disposed of. Enzymes that break down protein are called proteolytic enzymes. They help different systems “tidy up” and clean house – so you can get back to feeling your best! We’ll get into the details about specific types of systemic enzymes later, but first let’s talk about how to take them – since timing is everything!

How to Take a Systemic Enzyme vs. Digestive Enzymes

Digestive enzymes are taken with meals to help break down foods faster (for more energy and better nutrient absorption). Systemic enzymes are taken between meals on an empty stomach.* This timing is everything: They can go beyond the digestive system, into the bloodstream – and to the specific cells and tissues that need their help.*

A good example of this timing is our Lypo Gold™ formula for fat digestion.* With concentrated amounts of the enzyme lipase, Lypo Gold is able to break down up to 22 grams of fat per capsule.* This formula actually has dual uses: for fat digestion and gallbladder support and for cardiovascular and healthy cholesterol support.* How can one formula be so different? Here’s a look at the Supplement Facts label:

The difference is in the timing. For fat digestion and gallbladder support, the recommendation is to take a capsule with every meal.* But for cardiovascular and healthy cholesterol support, the suggestion is to take one capsule three times per day on an empty stomach, either one hour before or two hours after a meal.* When enzymes don’t have to use their “super powers” on the food you’ve eaten, they can offer support outside of the digestive system.*

What is the Function of Systemic Enzymes?

Systemic enzymes have distinct functions and can be divided into a few categories. Different systemic enzymes can:

  • Support healthy immune function*
  • Promote healthy sinuses*
  • Help break down excess and thick mucus*
  • Optimize the natural recovery processes for muscles and joints*
  • Ease occasional physical discomfort*
  • Promote healthy circulation*
  • Maintain normal clotting and blood flow levels*


Here’s a helpful list of systemic enzymes:

Proteolytic enzymes (proteases)

Most systemic enzymes are proteases. Think of these enzymes as little street sweepers circulating in the bloodstream that clean up cellular debris.* They help target foreign proteins and dead or damaged ones generated from immune responses, exercise or overexertion.*

Enzymes act like scissors, cutting up and breaking down specific foods and compounds. When the protein-digesting enzyme protease is taken orally, it is absorbed in the gut, goes into the bloodstream and breaks down unwanted or damaged proteins.*

Serrapeptase is an example of a proteolytic enzyme. Found in SerraGold™, it has the ability to survive the digestive tract and circulate through the body. This lets serrapeptase help break down unwanted and damaged proteins anywhere it finds them, which supports the immune system and physical recovery.*

Fibrinolytic enzymes

Fibrinolytic enzymes are a type of proteolytic enzyme that breaks down excess fibrin.* (That’s the long strands formed by blood proteins that make a net for platelets and other cells.) These enzymes help keep fibrin in a normal, healthy range, for both circulation and cardiovascular health.*

Nattokinase is a well-known enzyme that has been found to effectively break down and regulate fibrin by producing plasmin, a proteolytic enzyme.

Mucolytic enzymes

Mucolytic enzymes are a type of proteolytic enzyme that reduces the thickness and viscosity of mucus produced as an immune response.* By promoting the break down of this excess mucus, the enzymes also promote healthy respiratory function and easy breathing.* 

Our MucoStop™ formula includes the enzyme Mucolase™  to target and hydrolyze excess mucus in the sinuses and nasal cavities.* This helps the body naturally eliminate excess or thick mucus, which may support immune health.*

You might be curious: Are there are side effects to taking systemic enzymes? As with any dietary supplement, you should talk to your health-care provider before taking a systemic enzyme. A small percentage of users may experience an upset stomach when first beginning to take an enzyme supplement. If this persists, you should discontinue use and consult with your health-care provider.

Systemic Enzyme Formulas You Might Like

Explore our systemic enzymes for whole-self health*

Enzyme Defense

  • Supports healthy immune function and circulation*
  • Helps remove unwanted proteins from the bloodstream*
  • Provides support to help purify the body*
  • Promotes breakdown of excess mucus*

Enzyme Defense™ offers natural support for immune, respiratory and sinus health.* It contains protease enzymes to help break down unwanted proteins from environmental threats, as well as serrapeptase, Mucolase™ and catalase (an antioxidant enzyme).*

Also available in Enzyme Defense™ Extra Strength, with double the enzyme potency to give your immune system a hand!*


  • Promotes healthy circulation*
  • Maintains normal clotting and blood flow levels*
  • Promotes heart health*
  • Contains NSK-SD® formulated to enhance plasmin production*


Natto-K™ is a formula that features nattokinase, for natural support for optimal circulation and cardiovascular health.* It uses a specialized form of the enzyme nattokinase (NSK-SD®) without vitamin K2 to promote optimal circulation and cardiovascular health.* Nattokinase enhances the body’s ability to regulate fibrin levels.* Go with the (blood) flow for a healthy heart!

Repair Gold™

  • Helps relieve joint and muscle discomfort*
  • Optimizes the body’s natural recovery process*
  • Promotes healthy blood flow*


Repair Gold™ can offer support for sore muscles and overexertion.* This formula optimizes your body’s natural recovery process – thanks to the proteolytic enzymes protease, catalase, serrapeptase, bromelain and papain. Yes, enzymes not only help break down food and boost energy – they also help us recover from WODs, half-marathons and other forms of exercise and overexertion!* Repair Gold™ works synergistically with your body to help relieve joint and muscle discomfort and improve mobility.*


  • Optimizes the body's immune function*
  • High-potency serrapeptase enzyme formula
  • Promotes recovery, circulation & cardiovascular function*
  • Supports mobility and sinus health*

Your go-to formula for whole-body enzyme support, SerraGold™ is gentle and vegan. Serrapeptase supports your body’s natural recovery process and immune function.* It is included in other formulas (some of which are listed above) because its benefits include: helps relieve joint and muscle discomfort, optimizes the body’s natural recovery process, improves mobility, promotes healthy blood flow, supports immune and sinus health and breaks down excess and thick mucus.* You can think of it as a Swiss army knife of systemic enzymes!*


  • Seasonal, indoor and outdoor irritant support*
  • Natural, non-drowsy formula; free of side effects
  • Contains Mucolase™ enzyme designed to target and break down mucus*

Seasonal changes got you down? Get support for environmental challenges with Allerase™.* This formula supports you against seasonal, indoor and outdoor irritants and is non-drowsy.* It includes enzymes to help break down thick, excess mucus and bolster the body’s natural defenses.* Allerase™ uses a combination of amylase (a starch-digesting enzyme) and Mucolase™ (an enzyme that targets and breaks down mucus) to naturally break down the mucus and irritants so that you can go back to feeling good again.*


  • Helps break down excess mucus*
  • All-natural seasonal wellness support*
  • Non-drowsy solution
  • Additional enzymes to support mucus relief*

Breathe easy with MucoStop™!* Offering support during seasonal or occasional congestion, it is a non-drowsy formula.* By helping the body break down excess or thick mucus, it offers seasonal support.* Its enzymes target and hydrolyze excess mucus in the sinuses and nasal cavities.

Thera-blend is the Difference

The major difference with Enzymedica products is that we offer the most complete range of enzymes. We include some that are not found in lower-priced products.  All of our systemic enzyme formulas include the power of Thera-blend™ to ensure all of our enzymes work throughout the digestive tract.* Your GI tract is a diverse and active place, and the pH (acidity or alkalinity) isn't the same all the way through.

Our Thera-blend technology makes sure that enzymes thrive in all of the pH levels of the GI tract.* For you, this means the enzymes can survive the trip through the digestive tract into the bloodstream and beyond.* We know that it's important for supplements to actually do what they're supposed to, and this technology means you're getting your money's worth from your systemic enzyme supplement!

How to Choose Quality Enzymes for Your Whole Self*

Enzymes are not weighed in metric units (such as mg or g). That is not how enzymes function! Enzymes must be measured according to specific activity levels, using unique purity, quality, and identity of food ingredients standards established by the internationally accepted Food Chemical Codex. We know this as the industry leader in digestive enzymes for over 20 years. That is why, no matter what you see on our products, there will always be a rating of each enzyme's activity levels. Turn over any of our products, and look at the "Supplement Facts" label. We have nothing to hide, so we list the types of each individual enzyme or blend, along with the specific activity levels included with each one.

No matter which digestive enzyme formula you choose, it will contain Enzymedica's proprietary Thera-blend™ technology. That means that the enzymes will work throughout the entire pH spectrum found along your digestive tract. When other brands’ enzyme formulas may fall short, in almost all acidic or alkaline environments, our enzymes will be effective.

Our systemic enzymes are tested to be able to survive until they get to the cells where they can offer specialized support.*

The Enzymedica Difference

Since 1998, Enzymedica® has been a leader in natural digestive health and wellness. Our goal is to make good health easy for everyone, with the highest quality products made from the best ingredients the planet has to offer, all backed by unparalleled, independent scientific research. Our award-winning company produces the #1 digestive enzyme brand in the U.S., driven by the #1 enzyme supplement, Digest Gold™.  Enzymedica’s People & Planet philanthropic initiatives, which are building a legacy to make the world a better place, are at the core of our mission.