Would you like to wash away the stress and pollution that comes with everyday living? That’s the promise of enzymatic body washes. Similar to herbal supplements that promise to cleanse the body of toxins, enzymatic body washes claim to remove dead skin and toxins from the surface of the skin. The end results, supporters say, include fewer blemishes and better looking skin. Some say enzyme washes can even reduce the symptoms of acne and other skin diseases.
Claims regarding the action of enzymatic cleansers vary. Some products claim to provide a gentler scrubbing action than harsh soaps and standard body washes. Others claim to add herbal supplements that boost skin health and fight infections on the skin surface. People with acne, psoriasis, eczema and other skin diseases sometimes claim to find relief after using enzymatic washes on affected skin.
Researchers at Oxford University studied the silkworm enzyme, often used in enzyme cleansing products. They reported no signs that the enzyme was effective in promoting health or preventing disease. The American Cancer Society has stated that there is no reliable evidence that enzyme supplements are effective.
Scientists at the Gladstone Institutes of Cardiovascular Disease have reported that an enzyme known as DGAT1 helps promote healthy skin and hair in mice. More research will be needed to determine if the findings hold true in humans.
Most common enzymes found in body wash products come from tropical fruits or other organic products. Some specific ingredients and their claimed benefits include:
Papaya–removal of dead skin.
Pineapple–anti-fungal agent and moisturizer.
Horse Chestnut–fights inflammation.
Green Tea–antioxidant and soothing to the skin.
Olive Leaf–antibacterial and antioxidant effects.
Enzymatic body washes appeal as a “natural” alternative to topical medications (such as prescription skin creams and lotions). The National Psoriasis Foundation cautions that “natural” doesn’t necessarily mean safe. Complications and serious side effects can occur. The exact content of such products is not regulated by the government. The effectiveness of these products has not been proven by scientific research.
If you have acne or another skin condition, make sure you discuss your enzymatic product usage with your doctor or provider. Don’t substitute an enzyme cleanser for topical medications without a doctor’s approval.