Supplement Review: Systemic Enzymes – “Garden of Life FYI® Joint & Tissue Food”

gARDEN OF LIFE systemic enzymes.JPG
Garden of Life Joint & Tissue Food for the health of your joints

Summary

  • Numerous beneficial, “anti-everything” herbs and botanicals in this supplement
  • Not a significant reduction of inflammation or autoimmune symptoms
  • Initial observations include increased energy and consequently, better mood
  • Increased dosages may not make much difference


Contents

  1. Ingredients and Benefits
  2. Dosage
  3. Observations
  4. Limitations
  5. Verdict

I first heard of these systemic enzymes while researching for supplements that could help with inflammation in a previous article on IBD and Crohn’s. Since my joints were hurting from the excessive inflammation in my system, I figured I could give this brand of systemic enzymes a try. It held the promise of reducing inflammation and healing my damaged joints at the same time. 2 for one! Haha.

1. Ingredients & Benefits

gARDEN OF LIFE systemic enzymes ingredients list

The official Garden of Life website markets this product as “joint and tissue food” that “Helps maintain normal joint function and mobility” and “Supports healthy metabolism in connective tissue”. [1] The ingredients list is so long I wonder how they fit so many ingredients into one tiny tablet!🤔 The following are the ingredients and their benefits:

  • Chicken Collagen Extract – research has shown this to be “may serve as a novel therapeutic tool in joint inflammatory conditions and symptoms of OA (osteoarthritis) and RA (rheumatoid arthritis)”[2]
  • Proteolytic Enzyme Blend (Poten-Zyme Botanical Blend)
    • Ginger root and juice – powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects [3]
    • Cat’s Claw Bark – anti-inflammatory, anticancer, and immunostimulant properties however controlled clinical trials are lacking [4]
    • Barley Grass Juice – highly nutritious, antioxidant and cancer preventing, cholesterol lowering and detoxification [5]
    • Turmeric Root – potent anti-inflammatory, anticancer and pretty much anti-everything! [6]
  • Phytonutrient Blend
    • Rhododendron Caucasicum Extract – antioxidant, cardio-protective, pain relief from rheumatological disorders, antiviral [7]
    • Turmeric Extract (root) – refer to above
    • Phytosterols – cholesterol lowering and anti-cancer effects however the source should be from natural plant foods and not vegetable oils and processed foods. Unnaturally high amounts are likely to cause heart disease rather than prevent it [8]
    • Boswellia Serrata – general anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects [9]
    • Bayberry Bark and Leaf Extract – used to treat diarrhea and inflammation and infections of the gastrointestinal tract. [10] Also contains large amounts of myricetin, a potent antibiotic and anti-inflammatory. Myricetin is a COX-1, COX-2 and 5-LOX inhibitor. It has been used for centuries for the treatment of infections such as dysentery and was reported to be an effective fever reducer. [11]
    • Green Algae Extract – antiviral, antitumor, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiallergic, antidiabetic and antibacterial properties [12]
    • Brown Algae Extract – used for weight loss, cancer, fibromyalgia, arthritis, stress, heart disease, high cholesterol and an array of other serious health conditions [13]
  • Syrian Oregano – high nutritional content, potent anti-inflammatory and disease prevention [14]
  • Systemic Enzyme Blend
    • Protease Blend – A blend of protein digesting enzymes including 5 different proteases which distinguish themselves for their ability to function in a wide range of pH environments and temperature conditions. These enzymes have shown to possess valuable therapeutic actions as anti-inflammatory agents. [15]
    • Bromelain – also called ‘pineapple extract’, is a combination of several compounds, including a large amount of a special protein-digesting enzyme. It can help the body break down and digest protein. Supplementation of bromelain can also reduce nasal inflammation, meaning it acts as a decongestant. If taken between meals, bromelain can benefit the immune system and protect the body from cancer. Anti-inflammatory properties. [16]
    • Papain – proteolytic enzyme found in concentrated amounts in unripe papaya fruit. Also helps break down proteins. Used for pain and swelling (inflammation) as well as fluid retention following trauma and surgery. As a digestive aid, it can treat parasitic worms, inflammation of the throat and pharynx, shingles (herpeszoster) symptoms, ongoing diarrhea, hay fever, runny nose, and a skin condition called psoriasis. [17]
    • Amylase – an enzyme that helps digest carbohydrates, it is made in the pancreas and the glands that make saliva. Aids in digestion and energy production. Also, may reduce swelling, boost immunomodulatory activity, is a potential cancer remedy and may help balance blood sugars and manage diabetes. [18]
    • Lipase – a pancreatic enzyme whose main function is to break down fats into more easily digestible components. Lipase in the bloodstream modulates cell permeability so that nutrients can enter and wastes exit. Other health benefits include improving digestion and absorption of vitamins and minerals, weight loss, control appetite, support healthy cholesterol and triglyceride levels and decrease symptoms of digestive upset. [19]
    • Cellulase – An enzyme that breaks down cellulose, a major component of the plant cell wall found in the plants we eat. Cellulase turns cellulose into beta-glucose which is released more slowly into the bloodstream. Besides maintaining optimal blood sugar and cholesterol levels, cellulase can help eliminate toxic chemicals, free radicals and other harmful organisms from cell membranes. [20]

Thus you can see, this supplement provides joint building material from the chicken collagen as well as a myriad of anti-everything benefits from the various herbs and botanicals. It also contains lots of enzymes who jobs are to catalyse the breakdown of various carbohydrates, proteins or fats in the body and aid in digestion. So my expectations were pretty high prior to taking this!

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2. Dosage

I started with caution, as always when trying out a new supplement for the first time. This meant building up from 1 tablet once a day, to 1 tablet 3 times a day on an empty stomach.

From there, I increased the dosage to 2, 3 and eventually 4 and even 5 tablets 3 times a day! Note that this meant up to 15 tablets a day, far above the recommended dose of 1 tablet 3 times a day haha. I was experimenting with the doses to see if increasing the doses had any positive benefits.🤣 Eventually, I went back down to a maintenance dose of 3 tablets, 3 times a day.

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3. Observations

Energy – From day 3 (1 tab 3x a day), I started to feel much more energetic than usual. Less lethargic during the day and kinda feeling more normal again. For quite some time now, my autoimmune disorder has left me fatigued and drained throughout the day. (when I don’t take stimulants like coffee) This happens despite getting 10 hours of sleep each night and at least an hour’s nap in the day.

The increased energy actually made me feel like a kid/teenager again! I noticed that I was subconsciously fidgeting more often in my seat and shaking my leg. It is worth mentioning that this is different from the jitters and rush you get from a caffeine kick after a cup of coffee. Usually that wanes off after a couple of hours and you crash. This increased energy is more like me shifting from cruising at gear 1 (or 10 mph) to a normal of gear 3 (or 65 mph).

Mood – the increase in energy may have played a role of inducing a better overall mood. I felt livelier, more positive and hopeful. I also noticed that I began smiling more too. Maybe its just a placebo effect but hey, those can be strong and valid too. [21]

Inflammation/Symptoms – This is where things get tricky to validate. Because I was travelling during this period of testing, I had no access to any blood work/tests so I cannot quantify any improvements in inflammation in my system. I can only go by symptom severity.

Symptoms such as joint aches/stiffness improved for the first week or so but then became stagnant. I continued increasing the dose in the hopes of continued improvement. Eventually I reached 4 tablets, 3 times a day (and one day even 5!). This did not seem to help. On the contrary, I felt like there was a backfire and my symptoms got worse at such high doses. Again, this may be confounded by other factors such as how much I walked that day (for my foot pain) or the environmental pollution at the place I was visiting (New York City pollution vs Flagstaff’s pristine air).

Ultimately, I settled on a maintenance dose of 3 tablets, 3 times a day on an empty stomach. Surface to say, there were no further improvements on this dose until I finished the bottle.

Upon ceasing supplementation, I experienced some regression in pain, stiffness and aches. I guess this is a little more evidence of its efficacy. Of course, this regression could again be a placebo effect.

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4. Limitations

Besides the lack of blood work, I finished the bottle of enzymes in 23 days. One could argue that I might see more improvements if I continued on this for more time. Then again, one can argue that time is another confounding factor as approximately 1 third of patients experience improvements in time without drugs or placebo. [21, 22] In my opinion, 23 days is more than sufficient time to test for a supplement’s efficacy. I

Lastly, the stress of travelling could have impacted or halted further improvements too.

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5. Verdict

★★★☆☆

Possibly beneficial. However, without blood work to say for certain, the pain relief could simply be placebo.

If you suffer from similar autoimmune joint pains and inflammation, this is worth a try. However, to know for certain if it works, do get some quantitative results such as before-after blood work!

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Links

  1. Systemic enzymes – Garden of Life Joint & Tissue Food (amazon.com, iHerb.com)

 


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References

  1. FYI® Joint & Tissue Food – Garden of Life website
  2. Chicken Collagen Extract – Effects of orally administered undenatured type II collagen against arthritic inflammatory diseases: a mechanistic exploration
  3. Ginger – Biological properties of 6-gingerol: a brief review
  4. Cat’s Claw Bark – https://www.drugs.com/npp/cat-s-claw.html
  5. Barley Grass Juice – https://www.drugs.com/npc/barley-grass.html
  6. Turmeric root – https://draxe.com/turmeric-benefits/
  7. Rhododendron Caucasicum Extract – http://centerhealingarts.com/physician-quality-nutritional-supplements/supplement-articles/anti-aging-herbs/
  8. Phytosterols – http://www.healthline.com/nutrition/phytosterols-good-or-bad#section1
  9. Boswellia Serrata – https://examine.com/supplements/boswellia-serrata/
  10. Bayberry Bark and Leaf Extract – https://www.herbal-supplement-resource.com/bayberry-herb.html
  11. Bayberry Bark and Leaf Extract –  https://www.crohns.net/miva/productinfo/whatsinfyi.shtml
  12. Green Algae Extract – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16294828
  13. Brown Algae Extract – https://draxe.com/algae-benefits/
  14. Syrian Oregano – http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/oregano.html
  15. Protease Blend – https://www.crohns.net/miva/productinfo/whatsinfyi.shtml
  16. Bromelain – https://examine.com/supplements/bromelain/
  17. Papain – http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-69-papain.aspx?activeingredientid=69&activeingredientname=papain
  18. Amylase – https://jonbarron.org/herbal-library/nutraceuticals/amylase
  19. Lipase – https://jonbarron.org/herbal-library/nutraceuticals/lipase
  20. Cellulase – https://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/cellulase/
  21. Placebo effect – https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2017/7/7/15792188/placebo-effect-explained
  22. Regression fallacy – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regression_fallacy
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