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5 Zinc Carnosine Benefits for Digestive Health

Posted by Deborah Graefer, L.Ac. MTOM on

Whether you are aware or not, you may be doing many things that can potentially damage your gut – not eating well, neglecting exercise, stressing out, taking unnecessary medications, and even polluting your body by drinking excessively or smoking. Before you know it, you’re feeling lethargic, bloated, nauseous, and overweight. Worse, you may start suffering from pain.

Although many may dismiss gastrointestinal symptoms as momentary discomfort that will eventually pass, these can lead to much more detrimental complications if not addressed immediately. Digestive health should never be taken for granted. In fact, Hippocrates the father of modern medicine, believed that all diseases begin in the gut. A branch of Chinese medicine would also point us in that direction as it considers digestion to be the first thing to treat since it is the core of nutrient absorption and assimilation. These beliefs underscore the importance of keeping your gut in tiptop shape through disease prevention, preservation and repair.

The crucial role of the digestive system in achieving optimum overall health has led to numerous research breakthroughs that developed new drugs, vaccines, diagnostic tests and procedures. This includes the discovery of the dynamic between the trace mineral zinc and the amino acid carnosine, called zinc carnosine, also known as zinc l-carnosine or polaprezinc and the trademarked pepzin gi.

What is Zinc Carnosine?

Zinc-carnosine is formed by chelating zinc to carnosine in a one-to-one ratio. This process of bonding ions and molecules makes the combination three times more potent than the individual components alone.

By itself, zinc is already very beneficial for optimum digestive health. It boosts immunity, regulates blood sugar, stops and prevents diarrhea, supports liver health and aids in nutrient absorption. It is the second most abundant naturally-occurring mineral in the body necessary to numerous functions and biochemical reactions.

L-carnosine, on the other hand, has strong antioxidant and tissue-healing properties. It also helps transport the zinc carnosine to problematic areas in the gastrointestinal tract where it can take effect. Together, these two components are known to be a force to reckon with - improving our body’s cell function, digestion and immune system, among others. Since its discovery in Japan, it has been used to treat gastritis, dyspepsia and gastric ulcers. Here are some of the ways zinc carnosine benefits your overall gastro-intestinal health: 

  • helps the body heal ulcers and gastritis
  • reduces inflammation
  • supports gastric healing and maintains a healthy mucosal lining
  • helps prevent free-radical damage to gastric cells
  • helps protect the GI system from damage caused by medications like NSAIDs and PPIs

How Does Zinc Carnosine Benefit Your Digestive System?

1. Zinc carnosine, leaky gut, ulcers and gastritis

Before Japanese scientists came up with this powerful combo, stomach cancer was considered the top killer in Japan. This chronic disease is a result of gastritis (inflammation of the stomach) and ulcers. One of the two major causes of gastritis and ulcers is the presence of the bacteria Heliobacter pylori (H. pylori). H.pylori attacks the stomach lining which serves as the body’s protection from digestive acids. When acid penetrates the stomach, ulcerations may form and bleed, causing terrible pain and/ or disruption to the digestive process. When it gets infected, it leads to even more serious complications.

Luckily, numerous experiments on zinc carnosine benefits have proven its effectiveness against ulcers and gastritis by eradicating infection with H. pylori itself. An example is a study conducted in 1999 which tested the combined effectivness of antibiotics, proton pump inhibitors (PPI) and zinc carnosine in treating patients with H.pylori infections and symptoms. Based on their conclusion, 100% of the patients who were administered the medicines plus the zinc carnosine eradicated the bacteria, while there was only 85% success rate in the other group who just took antibiotics and PPIs. Aside from H. pylori, zinc carnosine is also able to neutralize and eliminate other strains of harmful bacteria, creating a environment favourable to health.

A separate study conducted in Ecuador showed that patients with H. pylori infection have significantly lower zinc concentration than uninfected patients. As a matter of fact, researchers found out that the more severe the infection is, the lower the zinc level is too. This shows the inverse relationship between zinc levels in the body and severity of infection which can lead to the assumption that boosting on zinc carnosine can significantly promote healing and quick recovery. Zinc carnosine can also be a necessary prophylaxis if any family member or close friend is suffering from the infection since H. pylori is also transmittable through the saliva (e.g., kissing, sharing of drinks, using same utensils, etc.). Because of zinc carnosine’s impact on the immune system, loading up on these while exposed to possible pathogens can decrease your likelihood of contracting disease.

2. Zinc carnosine reduces inflammation

Another way that zinc carnosine helps in addressing ulcers, gastritis and their complications is by reducing inflammation. Although inflammation is one of our immune system’s ways to protect our body, it also has a lot to with the development of many chronic and deadly diseases.

Zinc carnosine has the ability to stimulate the expression of the Hsp70 protein in the body which helps to prevent inflammation within the lining of the large intestine. The anti-inflammatory properties of zinc also contribute to the overall effect. Zinc helps stabilize the membranes of mast cells (a type of white blood cell) that may release inflammatory proteins when stimulated by injury or allergy.

Since zinc carnosine reduces inflammation in general, it could greatly help in the management and treatment of other gastrointestinal diseases like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), Chron’s disease and ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), GERD and cholecystitis (gallbladder inflammation), among others. Common symptoms of gastrointestinal diseases like gastric pain, heartburn, nausea, vomiting, abdominal distension, diarrhea and overall discomfort can also be addressed by zinc carnosine. In fact, in an eight-week study with patients suffering from gastric symptoms, zinc carnosine has proven to offer significant relief.

Moreover, since medications, vitamins and other supplements are poorly broken down and assimilated throughout the body, those with other inflammatory diseases like arthritis and asthma will reap multiple benefits through the improvement in digestion and absorption.

3. Zinc carnosine supports gastric healing and maintains a healthy mucosal lining.

This attribute of zinc carnosine makes it unique and particularly beneficial for gastrointestinal health. Zinc by itself is already a critical mineral needed in the growth and metabolism of cells as well as the healing of wounds. As it is fused with carnosine, its wound-healing effect is even multiplied. This is demonstrated in numerous studies including a 2007 experiment published in the journal “Gut” which focused on zinc carnosine’s ability to stabilize small bowel integrity and stimulate gut repair.

The study showed that zinc carnosine administration stimulates cell migration and growth in and near the sites of injury, speeding up the healing nearly threefold and reducing the amount of gastric and small-intestinal injury in rat subjects. A separate study investigated the healing rate of monochloramine-induced stomach lesions in rats pre-treated with zinc carnosine. Results showed that lesion sizes from the experimental group were significantly less than the control group. It is worthwhile to note that monochloramine is a widely-used disinfectant used to treat drinking water.

Inflammation causes leaky gut. Reducing inflammation in the gut alone will contribute to its healing, but add to that the ability to speed up this process by 3 times and you have a powerful ally against intestinal permeability. Aside from gastric healing for injured and diseased individuals, zinc carnosine can also be beneficial for those with a healthy gut by maintaining the quality of the mucosal lining. It offers a protective effect from possible stomach lesions by enhancing intestinal integrity. It is therefore also an effective way to prevent having a leaky gut.

4. Zinc carnosine helps prevent free-radical damage to gastric cells

Another way that zinc carnosine helps to maintain the integrity of the gastric lining is through its anti-oxidant properties. Despite the popularity of the term "free radicals", few people know how it really impacts bodily functions including that of the gastrointestinal system. Numerous evidences show that free radicals play a crucial role in the development and origin of various disorders of the digestive system. Some of the diseases brought about by the abundance of free radicals are liver cirrhosis, radiation injury and inflammatory disorders of the digestive tract like pancreatitis and IBS.

When there is significant imbalance between free radicals and antioxidant defences in the body, it will result in oxidative stress. Similar to free radicals, oxidative stress also significantly contributes to a wealth of health problems like inflammatory diseases, neurological disorders, cardiovascular ailment and the development of cancer.

Zinc carnosine, through its anti-oxidative properties, decreases the likelihood of developing these diseases by searching and eliminating reactive oxygen and nitrogen species (ROS) in the body and inhibiting cancer cell growth. This reaction helps “clean up” the gut flora, creating a conducive environment for optimal digestion and nutrient absorption. This reaction benefits not just gastric cells but all the body systems as well.

5. Zinc carnosine can help protect the GI system from damage caused by medications like NSAIDs and PPIs

In our desire to feel better and relieve ourselves from whatever pain or aliment we are experiencing, we are often quick to self-diagnose and self-medicate. Many times, we resort to popping a pill at the slightest hint of discomfort. Popular choices are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen and naproxen for headache or body pain, and proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) like omeprazole used to treat acid reflux, indigestion and other GI symptoms. Unknown to many, these medications have serious repercussions to our digestive health over time, not to mention their negative impact to the other body systems.

Proton pump inhibitors stop acid production in the stomach, thus altering the gut environment and making us more vulnerable to a number of pathogens.PPIs also impair nutrient absorption and kidney function, setting us up for nutrient deficiency or other related conditions. And PPIs taken for even just one month have been shown to impair gallbladder function.

NSAIDs, on the other hand, damage the tight junctions of the intestinal walls, making them more susceptible to bacterial and viral infections. This increases the risk of developing ulcers and gastrointestinal bleeding. In fact, statistics show that nearly 100% of regular NSAID users have bleeding within the intestinal walls while 50% showed erosions within the intestinal mucosa and as many as 20% have ulcerations. Loosening of the tight junctions of the intestinal wall also opens the door to the beginning of (or increase in) food allergiesand autoimmune attacks.

Thankfully, zinc carnosine’s protective and restorative properties provide a strong defence and offense against the harmful impact of PPIs and NSAIDs. As proof of zinc carnosine’s effectiveness, one study showed that NSAID-induced damage was prevented and reversed in the test subjects. The administration of zinc carnosine also decreased NSAID-induced cell death. Zinc carnosine’s antibacterial ability also provides added protection from possible bacterial invaders brought about by gastric and intestinal vulnerability arising from PPIs.

Zinc Carnosine and GERD

One condition that often accompanies gallbladder problems is heartburn and acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease. My experience with helping people with recurring pain after gallbladder removal is that heartburn or reflux either become new symptoms or they get worse than what they were before surgery. I have been recommending zinc carnosine to them with good results.

Which Brand Is Best?

I suggest at least starting with one that contains pepzin gi, such as Zinc-Carnosine Complex with PepZin GI - 120 ct since most of the research was done with that compound. I have tested this one myself and found to be effective, but if you try a different one we'd like to know about it and what your experience is.  Please be sure to send us a text or live chat to tell us how and what formulation works for you. We need your input. It helps us to help others!


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