Photo: woods wheatcroft photography

The vast majority of enzymes are very special proteins in our body that are vital for life. Without their help, the chemical reactions cells need to stay alive wouldn’t happen, or happen fast enough.

There are about 3,000 enzymes identified in the human body, and as many as 50,000 we have yet to discover. Enzymes are present in every cell.

Enzymes are catalysts that increase the rate at which chemical reactions happen in our body. Enzymes will temporarily change shape to encourage an interaction and then return back to their original form to be used again. Some enzymes can last weeks, while others last only minutes.

An enzyme can repeatedly support the same chemical reaction by lowering the amount of energy needed to get a reaction started and accelerating their rate. This speeding up process is called catalyzing reactions and it can accelerate things immensely.

Enzymes found in raw food assist the body during the digestive process. Other enzymes in our digestive system break down food into usable material. Metabolic enzymes, also called systemic enzymes, in our blood and tissue rearrange chemical groups, help form bonds between different molecules, transfer chemical groups or make oxidation reduction possible.

Each enzyme is very specific. When active, some work by themselves while others function as part of a group where several sequences are needed for a specific outcome. Like the two step process of converting tryptophan to serotonin for use in the brain.

Sometimes the process releases energy by breaking down large molecules into small, simpler ones. This is called catabolism, and it can free up vitamins and minerals. At other times the process uses energy to combine smaller molecules into larger ones that help cells build and repair themselves. This is called anabolism.

Digestive enzymes are an integral part of the digestive process. As soon as food is put into our mouths, enzymes are at work breaking it down into small enough units, called colloidal particles, to be absorbed through the intestinal wall.

Each digestive enzyme breaks down specific foods like proteins (protease), carbohydrates (amylase), fats (lipase), fiber (cellulase), dairy (lactase), sugar (sucrase) and grains (maltase). Ideally, our body will produce most of the enzymes we need for digestion and the rest we get from food.

Due to the prevalence of digestive disorders, enzyme production in our body may not be optimum. We also tend to destroy most food enzymes during processing and cooking.

Immediate signs of digestive enzyme deficiency include indigestion, heartburn, bloating and cramping pain after meals. You may also experience food intolerances, allergies, bad breath or body order, dry or flaky skin, even nausea and diarrhea.

Metabolic, or systemic enzymes, are more responsible for maintaining overall health and assist in energy production.

Our body’s ability to repair tissue when injured, reduce chronic inflammation, and protect us from disease is directly dependent on these enzymes. They get nutrients into cells, break down fats in your blood, and clean up cellular waste and toxins.

Enzymes can also decline as we get older. I read that by the time most of us reach 70 we will only have 20% of the enzymes we had when we were 20. The good news is that digestive enzymes can be supplemented and have been found to be supportive in the gastrointestinal tract.

You can also spend more time chewing, reduce overall consumption to reduce need to digestive enzymes, eat more enzyme-rich foods, and don’t chew gum.

Supplementing systemic enzymes (nattokinase, bromelain, papain) is challenging to do as they are hard to absorb and tend to break down in the stomach.

The one I’ve seen receiving the most attention for effectiveness is serratiopeptidase, often shortened to serrapeptase. To be most effective, though, it must be enterically coated. Stop by and we can talk more.

Scott Porter is a Functional Medicine Pharmacist at Sandpoint Super Drug. He is a member of the Sandpoint Wellness Council.

Photo: Couleur / Pixabay


B12 is one of eight B vitamins. Though each is unique, they are commonly associated together because they tend to come from the same foods. Bs qualify as a vitamin as they are essential for life and our bodies cannot produce enough on their own. Vitamins by definition differ from minerals, essential fatty acids, and amino acids.

The list of Bs includes thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), pyridoxine (B6), biotin (B7), folic acid (B9) and various cobalamins (B12). There are various versions of some of these, such as niacinamide and nicotinamide riboside for B3.

Technically, B vitamins function as enzyme cofactors, and thus called coenzymes, or they are the precursors for them. Coenzymes help enzymes in our body do their work as catalysts in metabolism and detoxification. B vitamins are involved in producing red blood cells. They support synthesizing DNA during cell division and help us maintain good cognitive function, especially mood and energy.

Vitamins used to be available only through food and our own digestive process. It was not until the 1930s that we started extracting B vitamins from yeast and making them commercially available. Due to changes in soil, food processing, and diet, the amount we receive has been greatly altered. Thus practitioners today will recommend daily supplementation for some individuals.

The four distinct types of vitamin B12 are cyanocobalamin, hydroxocobalamin, methylcobalamin, and adenosylcobalamin.

Cyanocobalamin is the least expensive to produce and is commonly found in consumer multivitamins because it’s also stable. As an inactive form of B12, it does not occur naturally in any living organism and must be converted into another form that the body needs to function properly.

One problem is that about 40-60% of individuals are less likely to be able to convert cyanocobalamin into a more usable form, mythylcobalamin, due to mutations in their MTHFR genes.

Hydroxocobalamin is another inactive form of B12. Like cyanocobalamin, this form is less efficient as it also needs to be converted into an active form. It has some strengths in the body due to a longer half life, helping it stay in the blood stream longer. You can find this in both injectible and sublingual forms through compounding pharmacies.

Adenosylcobalamin is considered an active form of B12 in the body. It is produced in the body through several processes starting when methylcobalamin converts homocysteine to methionine. It acts within the cell mitochondria as a building block for an enzyme that is part of a central metabolic cycle that produces energy – the Kreb’s cycle. It is not very stable in pill form, but you can find it in some liquid supplements.

Methylcobalamin gets my highest respect, though, as it doesn’t require conversion, like cyanocobalamin, and goes straight to work without any unnecessary energy expenditure. It is stable in capsule and sublingual form, but more expensive, and is used in most clinical grade supplements. Because it is in the active form, those of us with defects in the genes that control conversion are assured we are getting the right form.

Look at labels and they will show the form of vitamin B12 they are using. Stop on by if you’d like to talk more.

Scott Porter is a Functional Medicine Pharmacist at Sandpoint Super Drug. He is a member of the Sandpoint Wellness Council.

Photo: LoboStudioHamburg / Pixabay


These bacteria help the body digest food, support absorption, produce vitamins like B and K, fight infection from other microorganism, and maintain the health of our mucosa lining by creating short chain fatty acids. Any imbalance of this complex intestinal microbiome, both qualitative and quantitative, can lead to intestinal permeability and microbial maladaptation in the gut, called dysbiosis.

Dysbiosis and increased permeability can be caused by our own diet, delayed digestion or constipation, the ingestion of antibiotics from food or drugs, exposures to toxins and molds, too much alcohol, and use of non-steroidal anit-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS). Even psychological and physical stresses can disrupt your gut.

There are many problems that can arise as a result of microbiota imbalances, such as nutrient deficiencies, immune system issues or eventually autoimmunity, food sensitivities, rheumatoid arthritis, headaches, bloating, diarrhea and/or constipation, rashes, hives, fatigue, skin fungus, joint pain, acid reflux, thyroid issues, gallbladder issues, and ulcers.

Both intestinal permeability and microbial imbalances have been associated with serious digestive disorders. This includes a nasty bug called Clostridium difficile (C. diff), diverticulitis, small intestinal bacteria overgrowth (SIBO/SBBO), gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) such as diverticulitis, Crohn’s, and ulcerative or microscopic colitis.

When you have an overgrowth of bad bugs, yeast, or parasites, this can negatively affect your intestinal mucus layer, allowing bacteria or foreign molecules through the gut lining and able to infiltrate the sterile area. That’s why its called leaky gut. Inflammation can get ramped up as a result. Sometimes biofilms form and these inhibit the bodies ability to easily repair the problems.

What we want to do in these cases is return our microbial colonies back to a state of symbiosis, or harmony. You also want to break down any biofilms and mend the damage caused to the intestinal barrier. We do this to enhance and support our bodies natural healing capacity for a healthy and balanced digestive system.

Sometimes we can simply reinforce the good bugs in order to get rid of the bad ones. Clinical grade probiotics may be enough. At other times we will want to be more aggressive and directly attack the overgrowth of pathogenic bacteria, yeast, fungus, and parasites. Then we may need prescription anti-biotics or anti-fungals. There are also studies showing some natural herbal extracts to be effective – such as berberine, allicin, and oregano.

The first step, though, is always a review and overhaul of your diet, removing starchy foods and sugars. Fasting, or an elimination diet, can help kick this off. High histamine producing foods and preservatives are also a big no no, along with foods that are typically pro-inflammatory or irritating. This includes dairy and grains. There is no single diet, supplement, or method that I’ve found, but these are the generalities.

Attending to your gut membrane during this time is critical. L-glutamine and N-acetyl-D-glucosamine are both shown to provide healing benefits. Slippery elm, aloe vera, and marshmallow also help soothe the cells lining the intestinal walls. Come on by if you want to learn more about leaky gut.

Scott Porter is a Functional Medicine Pharmacist at Sandpoint Super Drug. He is a member of the Sandpoint Wellness Council.

Photo:poppicnic / Pixabay


Joe climbed my stairs as if he were climbing the last 100 feet of Mt. Everest. His steps and breath were deliberate and labored. He greeted me with the hello of a man much older than his body presented. Years of hard work and hard play had created a body that was old before its time. Hearing about my success in restoring youth in his friends’ bodies, Joe thought he would give me a try. After all, as he said he had nothing to lose.

Joe was so tight and bent, it was as if the connective tissue (CT) encasing Joe’s muscles, bones, and organs had shrunk, leaving a shorter, tighter body than his natural one. From having his body do things it wasn’t primarily designed to do, the subtle strain caused contraction and adhesions in his CT. His fascia (which surrounds all elements of the body), tendons and ligaments became tough gristle, and the cartilage in his joints was deteriorating.

Not only are we not taught about this important tissue, we aren’t taught how we can preserve or regain our health. Collagen is the most abundant protein in our bodies; it’s the “glue” that helps hold the body together. It’s believed that the body’s collagen production naturally begins to slow down as we age. We can thank this process for signs of aging, such as wrinkles, sagging skin and joint pains due to deteriorating cartilage. Deficient animal protein, sugar consumption, and smoking also hinder production of strong CT.

Connective tissue, fascia and collagen were once considered unnecessary tissue. Bones and muscles are where things happen. Well, science and medicine are catching up to reality. The tissue that turns into scar tissue and gristle is what holds everything together. Stress, injuries and poor nutrition will cause the most abundant protein of the body to lose its elasticity and hydration.

Simple. Remove what is creating the strain, release the old adhesions, and give the body what it needs to produce healthy collagen. Then when the stress is removed and the body has what it needs to rebuild—good nutrition and sleep–it’s possible to reverse the effects of what we are told is aging.

Being a rancher and an avid outdoorsman caused Joe’s soft tissue to become tight hard tissue. He didn’t have any major accidents, he just pushed his body. One day he woke up and realized it wasn’t working like it used to. He wasn’t old, but he felt and moved like an old man.

When the body repeatedly does even simple movements that it’s not designed to do, it’s a strain. Strain builds up into tightness. As long as the strain is in the soft tissue, it can be released. Particular forms of bodywork will release the chronic strain of decades. Teaching the body to move in a more balanced way will prevent the strain from returning. Teaching the body’s physiology how to handle stress can be huge. Joe realized when he learned to breathe a relaxed breath, he no longer had shoulder and neck problems.

I had plastic surgeons as clients in Arizona who would not operate on smokers. I have to turn smokers away because their CT is depleted of the necessary nutrients from smoking. Much like old vegetarians, there wasn’t the needed nutrients in the CT to sustain the change we were creating.

Collagen supplements and bone broth are popular superfoods for the body’s CT. People report hair and nails transforming to wrinkles reducing from taking these foods. Other report less post-exercise discomfort and more energy. What can you do to strengthen your connective tissue?

Owen Marcus, MA Certified Advanced Rolfer & author,, 37 yrs experience – call if you have questions: 265.8440.

Photo: skeeze / Pixabay


Nutrient Depletion from Prescription Drugs

January 10, 2017

Using prescription medicines and over-the-counter drugs can deplete some of the vital nutrients our body needs. This can happen either through interfering with absorption of a particular vitamin, or by reducing the body’s ability to synthesize some essential nutrients. Storage, metabolism, and excretion may also be at hand. As a pharmacist, I recognize the importance […]

Read the full article →

Nutritional Foundations and Methylation

January 4, 2017

My approach to addressing health concerns is sequential and progressive. This means that I always start by optimizing foundations to well-being like eating whole, real, fresh and low glycemic local foods. I think good quality water, especially spring or filtered water, is essential – though I feel I don’t drink enough at times especially when […]

Read the full article →

How Rolfing Tricked Me

December 31, 2016

There are few things in life that can deliver more than they promise. Breck Parker, a roommate of mine back in the mid 1970s in Boulder, CO, used his legal training to persuade me to experience Rolfing, a modality he was studying. Initially, I said no. He was a good litigator, thorough, and persistent. The […]

Read the full article →

The Philosophy Behind Optimal Health

December 31, 2016

Everyone has their own unique approach to health. I certainly have mine. I’ve come to realize that my attitude, and the philosophy behind it, greatly influences the decisions I make everyday towards well-being. How I think about health has become an important motivator for what I do. Chronic disease is driven by the interactions between […]

Read the full article →

Anti-Inflammatory Properties of Turmeric

December 18, 2016

There are many herbs that draw attention in medical literature, one of the most frequently mentioned is turmeric. Some of the other herbs I read about include milk thistle, ginger, garlic, ginseng and cinnamon. I’ve discovered that turmeric is likely the most important of these at fighting and reversing disease. Turmeric is a main spice […]

Read the full article →

Is Glutathione the Premier Antioxidant?

December 10, 2016

Vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta-carotene are each powerful naturally occurring antioxidants. They protect cells from free radical damage by inhibiting oxidation. They come to us either in food (fresh veggies and fruits) or through internal processes in our body that create them. Oxidative damage from free radicals to a cell’s membrane or DNA is […]

Read the full article →

copyright 2008 - 2017