Natural healing remedies can be found throughout the globe, and nattokinase is no exception. Nattokinase is an enzyme found in a Japanese dish called natto (boiled soybeans fermented with bacteria Bacillus subtilis). It has been used in Japan for over 1000 years for its popular taste and as a medicinal folk remedy. This enzyme was discovered by research scientist Dr. Hiroyuki Sumi while looking for a natural remedy for dissolving blood clots related to heart attack and stroke. As you might expect, its key abilities relate to cardiovascular health.
Nattokinase is primarily used as a proteolytic enzyme, or systemic enzyme. An important concept to understand is that digestive enzyme formulas are taken with your meal to breakdown the food in your stomach. When you take a proteolytic enzyme formula between meals, the enzymes do not get stuck working in your stomach or wrapped up with your food and passed out through the colon. Instead, they quickly enter your bloodstream. Once in the bloodstream, they help optimize your blood, plus they make their way to all of the tissues throughout your body, where they assist with intelligent, adaptive healing.
Nattokinase works to help break down protein molecules in the blood into more benign forms. However, this enzyme has another unique ability that allows it to prevent and reverse blood clots. What makes nattokinase particularly potent is that it enhances the body's natural ability to fight blood clots in several different ways. Because it so closely resembles plasmin, it dissolves fibrin directly. In addition, it also enhances the body's production of both plasmin and other clot-dissolving agents, including urokinase (endogenous). In fact, seventeen clinical studies to date have verified that the enzyme both dissolves existing clots and prevents new ones from forming. This is a big discovery, as more than 700,000 people have a stroke every year and nearly one million Americans will have a heart attack every year.
According to Dr. Martin Milner of the Center for Natural Medicine in Portland, Oregon, "In some ways, nattokinase is actually superior to conventional clot-dissolving drugs. T-PAs (tissue plasminogen activators) like urokinase (the drug), are only effective when taken intravenously and often fail simply because a stroke or heart attack victim's arteries have hardened beyond the point where they can be treated by any other clot-dissolving agent. Nattokinase, however, can help prevent that hardening with an oral dose of as little as 100 mg a day." Plus, as Dr. Milner does not mention, nattokinase has none of the side effects of anti-clotting drugs such as Warfarin.
It doesn’t just help with clotting either. Studies have shown that nattokinase can work to help lower blood pressure by acting as a natural ACE inhibitor. This means that it prevents the "angiotensin converting enzyme" -- a key factor in hypertension -- from narrowing blood vessels. In human trials, nattokinase has been shown to lead to a ten percent drop in overall blood pressure readings.
Since nattokinase also contains vitamin K2, it has some circulatory benefits that can help decrease the risk of osteoporosis as well. Vitamin K2 aids in circulation by removing excess calcium from the blood, where it can create unwanted plaque build up, and instead allowing the calcium to be used in building bones where it belongs.
Another key ability of nattokinase was more recently discovered. A study out of Taiwan has found that the nattokinase enzyme may also help to prevent Alzheimer's disease. The enzyme has the ability to dissolve amyloid fibrils, which build up as plaque in the brain and can lead to brain cell damage. When this happens, the brain suffers cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's may result.
The researchers also found that the nattokinase enzyme could dissolve fibrils that contribute to diabetes and central nervous system degeneration. Other valuable effects of nattokinase include:
- helping with joint and muscle pain
- inhibiting hardening of arteries
- breaking down unwanted wastes in the blood
- breaking down undigested proteins in the gut
- increasing the body’s natural production of plasmin
- May help prevent varicose veins, muscle spasms, and pain
With all these benefits, you can see how this enzyme can play a key role in your overall health, and it should be no surprise to find it as an ingredient in Jon Barron’s proteolytic enzyme formula, pHi-Zymes. You may be wondering why Jon Barron created a formula with multiple systemic enzymes, not just nattokinase. As it turns out, each enzyme is specific as to the protein it works on and what reaction it facilitates with that enzyme. In other words, by definition, no single systemic enzyme can accomplish everything.
Different proteolytic enzymes, for example, serve to break down the protective proteins around viruses, bacteria, malignant cells, yeasts, and allergens -- actually digesting and destroying the protein-based defense shield of these pathogens and thereby leading to their ultimate elimination. Other proteolytic enzymes in the formula help clear out Circulating Immune Complexes. Others help to remove scarring in arterial tissues. And others help reduce pain and inflammation.
The bottom line is that you want to be be sure to look for a formula that has a balance of different types of proteolytic enzymes as opposed to just nattokinase, if you’re looking to optimize your health benefits.
Some may question the use of using a soy-derived product for health. Note that when soy is fermented, is neutralizes the harmful effects on your hormones. But more importantly, what you get in a supplement is not natto, the food derived from fermenting soy—but nattokinase, the purified enzyme extracted from natto. In other words, there’s virtually no soy left in nattokinase. Just be sure to look for a brand that uses non-GMO Nattokinase since most soy is genetically modified. We want to start with 540 FU per day, and work your way up to taking 1620 FU a day—spread out over three doses per day, or higher--for major repair, detoxification, or for performance athletes.
Do not take any type of proteolytic enzyme: if nursing or pregnant, if you have history of an ulcer, or if taking blood thinners. Do not take days before having elective surgery.
More about the health benefits of proteolytic enzymes.