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Dangers of Taking Digestive Enzyme Supplements

author image Cydney Walker
Cydney Walker is a registered dietitian and personal trainer who began writing about nutrition and exercise during her dietetic internship in 2000. She has been featured in "Voices" and by the National Medical Association for her HIV research. She earned her master's degree in human sciences from Texas A&M University in Kingsville.
Dangers of Taking Digestive Enzyme Supplements
Your digestive system uses enzymes to help with food absorption. Photo Credit Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Digestive enzymes help break down food particles to aid with food absorption. You may find people with pancreatic disorders or cystitic fibrosis use enzymes to break down carbs. Supplementing with digestive enzymes can improve digestive inabilities that produce digestive related problems, like lactose intolerance.

Cystic Fibrosis

Cystic fibrous, or CF, uses pancreatic enzymes to treat insufficiency with breaking down carbohydrates of the diet. Taking too many pancreatic enzymes can lead to problems with your large intestine. Scarring can occur, which is called fibrosing colonopathy. This will cause stomach pain, cramping and bloody diarrhea according to David Orenstein in "Cystic Fibrosis: A Guide for Patient and Family." Scar tissue develops, if high doses are continued, but lowering dosage of enzymes remedies the problem. If the scarring is severe enough, surgery is used to remove scar tissue.

Low Enzyme Production

Pancreatic enzymes are also indicated for use with any condition associated with low enzyme production. For those without cystic fibrous, pancreatic enzymes are given to help digest all macronutrients--carbs, proteins and fat. A possible side effect is too many enzymes create uric acid that may rise, causing arthritic joint problems. This is a concern if you already suffer from gout or kidney problems, according to Drugs.com.

Lactose Intolerance

Lactose is the primary sugar found in cow's milk. As you grow older, you may find your tolerance for milk and milk products decreases, causing gas, bloating and constipation. Lactase is an enzyme you can take with dairy foods to break down the sugar found in milk. Lactase is available without a prescription and under normal doses, the drug poses no health threats. Some people may have allergic reactions such as rash, hives, difficulty breathing, swelling of the mouth, throat or tightness in the chest if enzyme supplements are taken in excessive amounts, according to Drugs.com.


Rabinose is the indigestible sugar found in beans. The commercial brand Beano is the digestive enzyme used to relieve gas and bloating associated with eating beans. As stated by Drugs.com, very little documentation is available on overdoses with taking simethicone, the active ingredient in Beano. If an overdose is suspected, call the poison control center or the emergency room closest to you, according to Drugs.com.

Type II Diabetes

Acarbose is a digestive enzyme used to treat type II diabetes mellitus, or DM. The main action of this drug is slowing down the digestion of eaten carbohydrates in the intestine, which leads to a slower rise of blood sugar levels, according to Drugs.com. Taking too much acarbose may result in increased intestinal gas, diarrhea and abdominal discomfort as stated by Drugs.com. Blood sugar hypoglycemia is not a threat with acarbose, so overdoses don't pose a threat to severely lowering your blood sugar level.

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