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 Nattokinase and serrapeptase

Nattokinase is an enzyme that is extracted from a Japanese breakfast delicacy called natto. Natto is made from soy beans that have been fermented with bacteria called <i>bacillum natto</i> then boiled. Nattokinase is a natural blood thinner that reduces the blood’s ability to clot and is therefore useful for the treatment and prevention of strokes and heart attacks. It is also used for the treatment of:

Deep vein thrombosis, a condition where the veins in the legs form clots thus blocking blood circulation, Pulmonary embolism, a condition where the main artery of the lung is blocked by clots that formed elsewhere in the bloodstream and

Varicose veins

Serrapeptase on the other hand is a natural proteolytic enzyme that occurs naturally in the intestines of silkworm. Just like nattokinase, it is also extracted through fermentation.It is said to have anti-inflammatory effects and has thus been used for the treatment of inflamations. It is also used for the treatment of conditions like oedema, blood clots and scars.

How they work

Essentially, nattokinase reduces blood clotting by dissolving fibrin. Fibrin refers to the microscopic fibres in blood that entangles to form a strong mesh resulting in a blood clot. Serrapeptase, not only dissolves fibrin but also other non living proteins in the body. Silkworms use this enzyme to break out of their cocoons by dissolving them. This attribute gives serrapeptase an edge over nattokinase as it can be used to treat more ailments.

Though these enzymes have not been clinically approved for use by world pharmaceutical organizations, there is evidence to suggest that they may be effective in treating blood clot related ailments. There is a case of a patient who required surgery to amputate a leg that was dying due to a blocked artery. After being put on medication consisting of serrapeptase, this patient reportedly healed without any surgery.

Side effects

There haven’t been enough clinical trials performed on both enzymes to authoritatively document their side effects. But history of usage of nattokinase has shown that it tends to make blood thinner. This effectively means that it will take longer than usual to clot in case of an injury. There are also claims suggesting that it lowers blood pressure. What is known for sure is that nattokinase should never be used with anticoagulants such as aspirin as this could lead to dangerously thin blood and increase the risk of internal bleeding. The same can be said of serrapeptidase. Likewise, their long term effects are also not known as clinical tests that have been conducted to date have not borne any conclusive results.

The general consensus is that these enzymes should only be used as medical supplements and not the main prescription since they are still undergoing clinical tests. Use of these enzymes should be discontinued at least a fortnight before any surgery. They should also not be used by people with blood clotting disorders and expectant mothers. Although there is no known effect of these enzymes on pregnancies, their use by pregnant women is strongly discouraged.