by Dr. Tina Marcantel

girl with back pain

Pain management through a combination of systemic enzyme therapy and acupuncture can be an effective natural treatment method for both chronic and acute pain. Dr. Tina Marcantel is a naturopathic physician practicing in Gilbert, Arizona, and serving Mesa, Chandler, Tempe, and the greater Phoenix area.


The American Pain Foundation (APF) has called pain a national healthcare crisis. More than 50 million Americans are suffering from chronic pain and another 25 million are dealing with acute pain.

Chronic pain can include back pain, arthritis, muscle strain, carpel tunnel syndrome, and pain from chronic illnesses such as fibromyalgia, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, multiple sclerosis, and lupus.

Acute pain can be caused by injury from sports (such as sprained ankles) or trauma from accidents.elbow pain

More and more research has shown that inflammation is usually a component of pain. The signs of inflammation are swelling, pain, warmth, and redness in the affected area. (On a related note, many of my diabetic patients come to me with diagnoses of bursitis, plantar fasciitis, and arthritis. High blood sugars can add to the inflammatory process, producing pain.)

I have experienced an increased success rate in pain management (both chronic and acute) by using a combination of acupuncture and systemic proteolytic enzyme therapy.

In Chinese medicine, pain is considered to be caused by blocked energy channels. When channels are blocked, the energy cannot flow and pain is the result. Acupuncture stimulates the natural flow of energy by unblocking these channels to decrease pain and restore balance in the body.


The use of systemic enzyme therapy with both acute and chronic pain has also proved to be successful in my practice. The use of specific enzymes can break down proteins in the body that can cause scar tissue and inflammation. These enzymes are made of a combination of plant-derived proteolytic enzymes that are effective in reducing swelling and inflammation, thus reducing pain.

Pain management through systemic enzyme therapy is a healthier alternative to drugs such as aspirin and ibuprofen and prescribed medications. Because enzymes are natural substances that are used to promote chemical reactions in the body, the body processes them naturally. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin and ibuprofen are known to have ill effects on the liver, kidneys, stomach, and intestines.

A crucial component to the effectiveness of enzyme therapy is the timing of the medication. Because the desired effect of the enzyme is systemic and not digestive, the enzyme must not be taken with food. The medication must be taken one hour before or after eating to obtain its full systemic effectiveness to reduce inflammation and pain.

A note of caution:
blood thinners such as coumadin are contraindicated with the use of systemic enzyme therapy. That is why it is always important to keep your health care providers informed of all medications and dietary supplements you are taking. (See my article on “Herbal Remedies: What Every Consumer Should Know.”)

Systemic enzyme therapy can be obtained only from a licensed medical practitioner and the patient should be monitored and assessed regularly for changes in appropriate dosage.