Digestive Enzymes (Oral)

  • Pharmacy Author:
    Omudhome Ogbru, PharmD

    Dr. Ogbru received his Doctorate in Pharmacy from the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy in 1995. He completed a Pharmacy Practice Residency at the University of Arizona/University Medical Center in 1996. He was a Professor of Pharmacy Practice and a Regional Clerkship Coordinator for the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy from 1996-99.

  • Medical and Pharmacy Editor: Jay W. Marks, MD
    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD, is a board-certified internist and gastroenterologist. He graduated from Yale University School of Medicine and trained in internal medicine and gastroenterology at UCLA/Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

What formulations of oral digestive enzymes are available?

  • Oral, delayed release capsules are enteric coated to help prevent the capsules from breaking down in the stomach. Enteric coating delays the release of the enzymes until it reaches the lower gastrointestinal tract where its activity is desired.
  • Oral capsules are non-enteric coated capsules and must be taken with a proton pump inhibitor (PPI), a medicine that lowers stomach acidity that can destroy the enzymes.
  • Digestive enzymes are also available as oral mini-microsphere delayed-release capsules, tablet, and powder.

Are taking oral digestive enzymes during pregnancy or while breastfeeding safe?

Oral digestive enzymes have not been adequately studied in pregnant women. Oral digestive enzymes should only be used during pregnancy if the potential benefits to the mother outweigh the potential risks to the unborn baby.

It is not known whether oral digestive enzymes are excreted into breast milk. Pancreatic enzymes mostly act locally in the gastrointestinal tract and are generally not absorbed into the blood stream to make its way to the fetus.


FDA Prescribing Information.

Clinical Pharmacology

National Institues of Health. "Dietary Supplement Label Database."

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/24/2015

Quick GuideDigestive Disorders: Common Misconceptions

Digestive Disorders: Common Misconceptions
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