In an exclusive interview, food enzyme researcher Dr. Edward
Howell tells why he believes:
"Enzymes may be the key factor in preventing chronic
disease and extending the human lifespan."
Dr. Edward Howell was born in Chicago in 1898. He is the
holder of a limited medical license from the State of Illinois.
The holder of a limited practice license is required to pass
the same medical examination as a medical doctor. Only surgery, obstetrics and materia
medica are excluded.
After obtaining his license, Dr. Howell joined the
professional staff of the Lindlahr Sanitorium, where he remained for six years. In 1930,
he established a private facility for the treatment of chronic ailments by nutritional and
Until he retired in 1970, Dr. Howell was busy in private
practice three days each week. The balance of his time he devoted to various kinds of
Dr. Howell is the first researcher to recognize the
importance of the enzymes in food to human nutrition. In 1946, he wrote the book,
"The Status of Food Enzymes in Digestion and Metabolism." Dr. Howell's
forthcoming book is entitled, "Enzyme Diet."
This book contains the reference and source materials for the
enzyme theories which Dr. Howell has collectively called, "The Food Enzyme
Concept." The manuscript for "Enzyme Diet" reviews the scientific
literature through 1973. 1t is approximately 160,000 words long and contains 47 tables and
695 references to the world's scientific literature.
In this interview, Dr. Howell tells: What enzymes are, what
they do in our bodies, why he believes a state of enzyme deficiency stress exists in most
people, and finally, what he believes you can do about it.
"Neither vitamins, minerals or hormones can do any work
-- without enzymes."
HDN: What are enzymes?
HOWELL: Enzymes are substances which make life possible. They
are needed for every chemical reaction in that occurs in our body. Without enzymes, no
activity at all would take place. Neither vitamins, minerals, or hormones can do any work
-- without enzymes.
Think of it this way: Enzymes are the "labor force"
that builds your body just like construction workers are the labor force that builds your
house. You may have all the necessary building materials and lumber, but to build a house
you need workers, which represent the vital life element.
Similarly, you may have all the nutrients -- vitamins,
proteins, minerals, etc., for your body, but you still need the enzymes -- the life
element -- to keep the body alive and well.
HDN: Are enzymes then just like chemical catalysts which
speed up various reactions?
HOWELL: No. Enzymes are much more than catalysts.
Catalysts are only inert substances. They possess none of the
life energy we find in enzymes. For instance, enzymes give off a kind of radiation when
they work. This is not true of catalysts.
In addition, although enzymes contain proteins -- and some
contain vitamins -- the activity factor in enzymes has never been synthesized.
Moreover, there is no combination of proteins or any
combination of amino acids or any other substance which will give enzyme activity. There
are proteins present in enzymes. However, they serve only as carriers of the enzyme
Therefore, we can say that enzymes consist of protein
carriers charged with energy factors just as a battery consists of metallic plates charged
with electrical energy.
HDN: Where do the enzymes in our bodies come from?
HOWELL: It seems that we inherit a certain enzyme potential
This limited supply of activity factors or life force must
last us a lifetime. It's just as if you inhented a certain amount of money. If the
movement is all one way -- all spending and no income -- you will run out of money.
Likewise, the faster you use up your supply of enzyme
activity, the quicker you will run out. Experiments at various universities have shown
that, regardless of the species, the faster the metabolic rate, the shorter the lifespan.
Other things being equal, you live as long as your body has
enzyme activity factors to make enzymes from. When it gets to the point that you can't
make certain enzymes, then your life ends.
HDN: Do people do anything which causes them to waste their
limited enzyme supply?
HOWELL: Yes. Just about every single person eats a diet of
mainly cooked foods. Keep in mind that whenever a food is boiled at 212 degrees, the
enzymes in it are 100% destroyed.
If enzymes were in the food we eat, they would do some or
even a considerable part of the work of digestion by themselves. However, when you eat
cooked, enzyme-free food, this forces the body itself to make the enzymes needed for
digestion. This depletes the body's limited enzyme capacity.
HDN: How serious is this strain on our enzyme
"bank" caused by diets of mostly cooked food?
HOWELL: I believe it's one of the paramount causes of
premature aging and early death. I also believe it's the underlying cause of almost all
To begin with, if the body is overburdened to supply many
enzymes to the saliva, gastric juice, pancreatic juice and intestinal juice, then it must
curtail the production of enzymes for other purposes.
If this occurs, then how can the body also make enough
enzymes to run the brain, heart, kidneys, lungs, muscles and other organs and tissues?
This "stealing" of enzymes from other parts of the
body to service the digestive tract sets up a competition for enzymes among the various
organ systems and tissues of the body.
The resulting metabolic dislocations may be the direct cause
of cancer, coronary heart disease, diabetes, and many other chronic incurable diseases.
This state of enzyme deficiency stress exists in the majority
of persons on the civilized, enzyme-free diet.
HDN: Did human disease begin when man started cooking his
HOWELL: This is what the evidence indicates.
For example, the Neanderthal Man of 50,000 years ago used
fire extensively in his cooking. He lived in caves and ate mostly roasted meat from the
continuous fires which warmed the caves. These statements are documented by scientific
evidence in my published and unpublished works.
>From fossil evidences we know that the Neanderthal Man
suffered from fully-developed cnppling arthritis.
It's possible that the Neanderthal Man also had diabetes or
cancer or kidney disease and so forth. However, we'll never know since all soft tissues
have disappeared without a trace.
Incidentally, another inhabitant of the caves was the cave
bear. This creature protected the Neanderthal Man from the cave tiger, who also wanted the
protection of the cave to avoid the frigid weather. The cave bear, according to
paleontologists, was a partially domesticated animal and most likely lived on the same
roasted meat that the cave man ate.
Like the cave man, the cave bear also suffered from chronic,
HDN: Isn't it possible that cold weather, not cooked food,
was responsible for the arthritis of the Neanderthal Man?
HOWELL: No, I don't think weather had much to do with it.
For example, consider the primitive Eskimo. He lived in an
environment just as frigid as that of the Neanderthal Man. And yet, the Eskimo never
suffered from arthntis and other chronic diseases.
However, the Eskimo ate large amounts of raw food. The meat
he ate was only slightly heated and was raw in the center. Therefore, the Eskimo received
a large quantity of food enzymes with every meal.
In fact, the word Eskimo itself comes from an Indian
expression which means, "He who eats it raw."
Incidentally, there is no tradition of medicine men among the
Eskimo people. But among groups like the North American Indian, who ate cooked food
extensively, the medicine man had a prominent position in the tribe.
HDN: What evidence is there that human beings suffer from
food enzyme deficiency?
HOWELL: There's so much evidence that I can only briefly
summanze a small
fraction of it. Over the last 40 years, I have collected
thousands of scientific documents to document my theories.
To begin with, human beings have the lowest levels of starch
digesting enzymes in their blood of any creature. We also have the highest level of these
enzymes in the urine, meaning that they are being used up faster.
There's other evidence showing that these low enzyme levels
are not due to a pecularity of our species. Instead, they are due to the large amounts of
cooked starch we eat.
Also, we know that decreased enzyme levels are found in a
number of chronic ailments, such as allergies, skin disease, and even serious diseases
like diabetes and cancer.
In addition, incriminating evidence indicates that cooked,
enzyme-free diets contribute to a pathological over-enlargement of the pituitary gland,
which regulates the other glands. Furthermore, there is research showing that almost 100%
of the people over 50 dying from accidental causes were found to have defective pituitary
Next, I believe that food enzyme deficiency is the cause of
the exaggerated maturation of today's children and teenagers. It is also an important
cause of overweight in many children and adults.
Many animal experiments have shown that enzyme-deficient
diets produce a much more rapid maturation than usual. Animals on cooked diets are also
much heavier than their counterparts on raw diets .
Another piece of related evidence is that farmers use cooked
potatoes to fatten pigs for market. The've found that pigs on cooked potatoes fatten
faster and more economically than pigs on raw potatoes.
This evidence shows the great difference between cooked
calories and raw calories. Indeed, from my work in a sanitarium many years ago, I've found
that it was impossible to get people fat on raw foods, regardless of the calorie intake.
Incidentally, another effect associated with food enzyme
deficiency is that the size of the brain decreases. In addition, the thyroid overenlarges,
even in the presence of adequate iodine. This has been shown in a number of species. Of
course, you can't prove it on human beings. The evidence, however, is very suggestive.
HDN: What else is there?
HOWELL: Next, consider that the human pancreas is burdened
with enzyme production far in excess of any creature living on a raw food diet. In fact,
in proportion to body weight, the human pancreas is more than twice as heavy as that of a
Human beings eat mainly cooked food, while cows eat raw
Then, there is evidence that rats on a cooked diet have a
pancreas about twice as heavy as rats on a raw diet.
Moreover, evidence shows that the human pancreas is one of
the heaviest in the animal kingdom, when you adjust for total body weight.
This overenlargement of the human pancreas is just as
dangerous -- probably even more so -- than an overlargement of the heart, the thyroid and
so on. The
overproduction of enzymes in humans is a pathological
adaption to a diet of enzyme-free foods.
The pancreas is not the only part of the body that
oversecretes enzymes when the diet is cooked. In addition, there are the human salivary
glands, which produce enzymes to a degree never found in wild animals on their natural
In fact, some animals on a raw diet do not have any enzymes
at all in their saliva. The cow and sheep produce torrents of saliva with no enzymes in
Dogs, for instance, also secrete no enzymes in their saliva
when they're eating a raw diet. However, if you start giving them cooked starchy food,
their salivary glands will start producing starch-digesting enzymes within 10 days.
In addition, there's more evidence that the enzymes in saliva
pathological and not a normal situation. To begin with,
salivary enzymes cannot digest raw starch. This is something I demonstrated in the
The enzymes in saliva will only attack a piece of starch once
it's cooked. Therefore, we see that the body will channel some of its limited enzyme
producing capacity into saliva only if it has to.
Incidentally, there is some provocative animal research which
I have done in my own laboratory some years ago. If you'd like, I can explain it now for
HDN: Yes, please do.
HOWELL: I fed one group of rats a cooked diet and one group a
raw diet and let them live out their lifespan to see which group would live longer.
The first group got a combination of raw meat and various raw
vegetables and grains. The second group got the same foods boiled and therefore
enzyme-free. I kept these rats until they died, which took about three years.
As the experiment came to a close, the results surprised me.
It turned out that there was no great difference between the lifespans of the two groups.
Later on, I discovered the reason.
It turned out that the rats on the cooked diet were still
getting enzymes, but from an unexpected source. They had been eating their own feces,
which contained the enzymes excreted from their own bodies.
All feces, including those of human beings, contain the
enzymes that the body has used. My rats had been recycling their own enzymes to use them
over again. And that's why they lived as long as the rats on the raw diet.
Incidentally, the practice of eating feces is almost
universal among today's laboratory animals. Although these animals receive scientific
diets containing all known vitamins and minerals, the animals instinctively know they need
enzymes. Because of this, they eat their own feces.
In fact, the animals on these scientific diets develop most
of the chronic human degenerative diseases if they are allowed to live out their
lifespans. This shows that vitamins and minerals alone are not sufficient for health.
HDN: How do you know that people would benefit from
additional enzyme intake?
HOWELL: To me, the most impressive evidence that people need
enzymes is what occurs as a result of therapeutic fasting. As you know, I spent some years
in a sanitarium working with patients on various fasting programs.
When a person fasts, there is an immediate halt to the
production of digestive enzymes. The enzymes in saliva, gastric juice and pancreatic juice
dwindle and become scarce. During fasting, the body's enzymes are free to work on
repairing and removing diseased tissues.
Civilized people eat such large quantities of cooked foods
that their enzyme systems are kept busy digesting food. As a result, the body lacks the
enzymes needed to maintain the tissues in good health.
Most people who fast go through what is called a healing
crisis. The patients may feel nausea, vomiting and dizziness. What's happening is that the
enzymes are working to change the unhealthy structure of the body. The enzymes attack
pathological tissues and break down undigested and unprocessed substances; and these then
get thrown off through the bowels, through vomiting, or via the skin.
HDN: When people get enzymes from food, aren't they destroyed
by stomach acid and therefore of little or no value?
HOWELL: This is not true. Although most nutntionists claim
that enzymes in food are destroyed in the stomach, they overlook two important facts.
First of all, when you eat food, acid secretion is minimal
for at least thirty minutes. As the food goes down the esophagus, it drops into the top
portion of the stomach. This is called the cardiac section, since it's closer to the
The rest of the stomach remains flat and closed while the
cardiac section opens up to accommodate the food. During the iime the food sits in the
upper section, little acid or enzymes are secreted by the body. The enzymes in the food
itself go about digesting the food. The more of this self-digestion that occurs, the less
work the body has to do later.
When this 30 to 45 minute period is over, the bottom section
of the stomach opens up and the body starts secreting acid and enzymes. Even at this
point, the food enzymes are not inactivated until the acid level becomes prohibitive. You
see, food enzymes can tolerate chemical environments many times more acid than neutral.
HDN: Do animals also have a special section of the stomach
where food digests itself?
HOWELL: Absolutely. In fact, some creatures have what I call
a food enzyme stomach.
There are the cheek pouches of monkeys and rodents, the crop
of many species of birds, and the first stomachs of whales, dolphins and porpoises.
When birds, for instance, swallow seeds or grains, these
grains lie in the crop for 8 to 12 hours. As they sit, they absorb moisture, swell up and
begin to germinate. During germination, enzymes are formed which do the work of digesting
the seeds and grains.
Whales, dolphins and porpoises have a first stomach which
secretes no enzymes. Whales, for examples swallow large quantities of food without chewing
it. The food simply decomposes and digests itself. In the flesh of the fish and other
marine life the whale eats is an enzyme, called cathepsin, which breaks down the fish once
it has died. In fact, this enzyme is present in almost all creatures.
After the whale's catch has liquefied itself, it passes
through a small hole into the whale's second stomach.
It mystifies scientists how the whale's catch can get through
that small hole into the second stomach. They have no idea that self-digestion was at
HDN: Most -- if not all of us, eat lots of cooked foods every
day. Can we make up for this enzyme loss by eating raw foods in addition?
HOWELL: No. Cooked foods cause such a large drain on our
enzyme supply that you can't make it up by eating raw foods.
In addition, vegetables and fruits are not concentrated
sources of enzymes. When produce ripens, enzymes are present to do the ripening. However,
ripening is finished, some of the enzymes leave and go back
into the stem and seeds.
For example, when companies want to get enzymes from papaya,
a tropical fruit, they use the juice of unripe papaya. The ripe papaya itself has no great
concentration of enzymes.
HDN: Are there any foods particularly high in enzymes?
HOWELL: Bananas, avocadoes and mangoes are good sources. In
general, foods having a higher calorie content are richer in enzymes.
HDN: Do you recommend all raw foods as sources of enzymes?
HOWELL: No. There are some foods, seeds and nuts, that
contain what are called enzyme inhibitors.
These enzyme inhibitors are present for the protection of the
seed. Nature doesn't want the seed to germinate prematurely and lose its life. It wants to
make sure that the seed is present in soil with sufficient moisture to grow and continue
Therefore, when you eat raw seeds or raw nuts, you are
swallowing enzyme inhibitors which will neutralize some of the enzymes your body produces.
In fact, eating foods with enzyme inhibitors causes a swelling of the pancreas.
All nuts and seeds contain these inhibitors. Raw peanuts, for
example, contain an especially large amount. Raw wheat germ is also one of the worst
offenders. In addition, all peas, beans and lentils contain some.
Potatoes, which are seeds, have enzyme inhibitors.
In eggs, which are also seeds, the inhibitor is contained
mainly in the eggwhite.
As a general rule, enzyme inhibitors are confined to the seed
portions of food. For instance, the eyes of potatoes. The inhibitors are not present in
the fleshy portions of fruits or in the leaves and stems of vegetables.
There are two ways to destroy enzyme inhibitors. The first is
cooking; however, this also destroys the enzymes. The second way, which is preferable, is
sprouting. This destroys the enzyme inhibitors and also increases the enzyme content from
a factor of 3 to 6.
Some foods, like soybeans, must be especially well heated to
destroy the inhibitors. For example, many of the soy flours and powders on the market were
not heated enough to destroy the inhibitors.
There is one other way to neutralize enzyme inhibitors, but
we'll get to it in just a minute.
HDN: You said that it's not possible to overcome the enzyme
drain of cooked foods just by eating other raw foods. What then can people do?
HOWELL: The only solution is to take capsules of concentrated
In the absence of contraindications, you should take from l
to 3 capsules per meal. Of course, if you are eating all raw foods, then no enzymes will
be necessary at that meal.
The capsules should be opened and sprinkled on the food or
chewed with the meal. This way, the enzymes can go to work immediately. Incidentally,
taking extra enzymes is the third way to neutralize the enzyme inhibitors in unsprouted
seeds and nuts.
Concentrates of plant enzymes or fungus enzymes are better
for predigestion of food than tablets of pancreatic enzymes. This is because plant enzymes
can work in the acidity of the stomach, whereas pancreatic enzymes only work best in the
alkalinity of the small intestine.
If the enzyme tablet has an enteric coating, then it's not
suitable, since it will only release after it has passed the stomach. By this time, it's
too late for food predigestion. The body itself has already used its own enzymes to digest
HDN: Would people benefit from taking enzymes, even if they
have no problem with digestion or if they eat mainly raw foods?
HOWELL: They probably would benefit. Our bodies use up
enzymes in so many
ways that it pays to maintain your enzyme bank, regardless of
what you eat.
For example, enzymes are used up faster during certain
illnesses, during extremely hot or cold weather, and during strenuous exercise.
Also, keep in mind that any enzymes that are taken are not
wasted since they add to the enzyme pool of your body.
Furthermore, as we pass our prime, the amount of enzymes in
our bodies and excreted in our sweat and urine continues to decline until we die. In fact,
low enzyme levels are associated with old age and chronic disease.
So far, there's not much hard evidence on whether taking
additional enzymes will extend the lifespan. However, we do know that laboratory rats that
eat raw foods will live about 3 years. Rats that eat enzymeless chow diets will live only
2 years. Thus, we see that diets deficient in enzymes cause a 30% reduction in lifespan.
If this held true for human beings, it may mean that people
could extend their lifespans by 20 or more years -- just by maintaining proper enzyme
Editor's Note: While not much in the way of evidence, Dr.
Howell and his wife Evangeline can be offered as examples of the benefits of taking
enzymes. She looks about twenty years younger than her age. And Dr. Howell, though well
over 70, feels as alert and vital as 30 years ago. He still goes jogging frequently.
(C) 1991 University of Natural Healing, Inc. All rights