Amylase is a naturally occurring enzyme that speeds up the breakdown of starches and carbohydrates.[1,2] Enzymes have been used since ancient times (amyl is Greek for “starch”). Outside of personal care and cleaning products, amylase is used in a variety of industries, including brewing, distilling, baking, animal feeds, sewage treatment and digestive aids.
Amylase is a mix of enzymes that make the hydrolysis of glycosidic linkages of polysaccharides. It breaks starch-based soil down to simpler forms for removal by detergent.[6,7] It is also a skin conditioner and is found in thousands of products, including sunscreen, laundry detergent and other items.[8,9,10]
Amylase can be produced by plant, animal or microbial sources, including barley and rice, as well as Bacillus spp. B. amyloliquefaciens and B. licheniformis. The aspergillus and penicillium are other sources. Submerged fermentation and solid state fermentation are the two main methods of production. Submerged fermentation uses liquid substrates, such as molasses and broths, along with microorganisms such as bacteria that require high moisture content for their growth. Solid-state fermentation uses microbes that require less moisture for their growth, including bran, bagasse, and paper pulp.
We use amylase in several of our products as a biodegradable enzyme. The FDA has deemed the ingredient generally recognized as safe (GRAS), and Whole Foods has deemed the ingredient acceptable in its body care quality standards.[12,13,14] Studies show amylase is generally not irritating or sensitizing to the skin or eyes.[13,14,15,16,17]