Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Serrapeptase, Serratiopeptidase, and Nattokinase: Proteolytic Enzymes for Everyday Health

Welcome to my serratiopeptidase site!

My name is Robert Rister. I'm the author or co-author of five academic and popular books on the rational use of natural methods in supporting good health. I'm also an adjunct professor, a radio and TV commentator, and a formulator of natural products. I'm an industry insider who can share you the secrets of what the enzyme serratiopeptidase, sometimes called serrapeptase, can and can't do for supporting good health. I have earned a reputation as a conservative natural health expert, taking care to be factual and making sure the information I provide does real people real good. This one-page site is my reader-friendly summary of the health benefits of this remarkable enzyme that was first found in silkworms.

What Is Serratiopeptidase and What Does It Do?

Serratiopeptidase is the enzyme silkworms make to dissolve their cocoons. The tongue-twisting name of this enzyme is often shortened to serrapeptidase, serrapeptase, serralysin, serratia peptidase, serratio peptdisase, or Serratia E-15 protease. I'll use the terms serratiopeptidase and serrapeptase interchangeably in this article.

No nutritional supplement provides a more potent proteolytic (protein-dissolving) enzyme than serratiopeptidase. This enzyme is especially effective for breaking three kinds of protein, bradykinin, casein, and fibrin.
  • Bradykinin is a form of protein that causes blood vessels to dilate. It also triggers an influx of fluid into the tissues surrounding blood vessels that can result in swelling and pain. 
  • Casein is one of the major proteins in dairy products. Casein forms clumps that can keep food from being completely digested. This allows allergy-causing protein complexes to enter the small intestine. Even when these proteins do not trigger allergies or food sensitivity reactions, they exist in a form that the body cannot absorb and that can only feed pathogenic bacteria. 
  • Fibrin is a protein involved in the formation of blood clots. It holds clots together. Tiny cancerous tumors and colonies of some kinds of bacteria sequester fibrin from the bloodstream to cloak themselves to evade detection by the immune system. 
Serratiopeptidase also helps to break up some of the "sticky" proteins associated with collagen in some of the foods we eat. On an anecdotal level, many users of serratiopeptidase report fewer food allergies and easier digestion of high-protein foods.

Serratiopeptidase for Sinus Pain

Probably the most common use of serratiopeptidase supplements is treating sinusitis and sinus pain. This is also the best researched application of the silkworm enzyme.

Sinusitis is a condition of short- or long-term inflammation of the sinuses. It usually manifests itself as difficulty breathing through the nose, diminished sense of smell, pain or pressure behind the eyes, pain in the top row of teeth, difficulty breathing, interrupted sleep, stuffy nose, snoring, waking up with a dry mouth (due to mouth breathing through the night), and/or post-nasal drip with yellow or green mucus. Sinusitis can result from chronic exposure to dry air, bacterial infections, or viral infections. Once the tiny entryways to the sinuses become clogged with mucus or clotted blood, it is hard to get them open again.

Medical researchers have investigated treating sinusitis with a combination of antibiotics and tiny amounts of serratiopeptidase, just 5 mg (500 SU) of the enzyme daily for children and 10 mg (1,000 SU) of the enzyme daily for adults. Even at these low doses, about 25% of participants in the clinical trial experienced complete resolution of their sinusitis in just one week. About 50% of participants obtained "fair" results, and about 25% of participants did not respond at all.

It is possible that a higher dose would work better. And since the research trial did not permit participants to use neti pots, vaporizers, or anti-viral therapies, these might help, too.

Serratiopeptidase for Minor Injuries

Another common application of serrapeptase products is in speeding the healing of bruises, cuts, scrapes, sprains, and strains. Serratiopeptidase can be extremely helpful in treating minor injuries, but the key to success is using it at the right time.

The body protects broken skin by covering it with a scab. The body protects an injured joint, ligament, tendon, or muscle by coating it with fibrin, the blood protein that also is used to form clots. Just as you don't want to pull off a scab before the skin beneath has had a chance to regenerate, you don't want to take serratiopeptidase to dissolve fibrin before injured tissues have a chance to clear out damaged cells and begin to replace them.

That means that you shouldn't take serratiopeptidase for an injury until about a week after the injury. At this point, the enzyme helps keep a joint, tendon, ligament, or muscle from becoming "frozen" by fibrin. When you are ready to flex your muscles once again, taking serratiopeptidase helps prevent secondary injuries by releasing stiffness.

Other Applications of Serratiopeptidase

There are many other ways to use serratiopeptidase in everyday health maintenance, although the evidence for the efficacy of serratiopeptidase in these applications is anecdotal.
  • Treating autism with serratiopeptidase. There is probably no supplement that some parent somewhere has not tried for treating autism. There are reports that serratiopeptidase supplementation has made a difference in outcomes for children who have autism who are sensitive to milk, eggs, or beef, but the enzyme is strictly a supplement to a much more comprehensive program of nutritional support.
  • Treating bronchitis with serratiopeptidase. Many users report that serratiopeptidase helps break up phlegm.
  • Treating cancer with serratiopeptidase. Relatively few people who are diagnosed with anaplastic thyroid cancer survive even a year. I know a woman who was diagnosed with metastasized anaplastic thyroid cancer who has lived free of the disease for five years after being treated with serratiopeptidase--plus other enzymes, plus three surgeries, plus radiation therapy, plus some of the most skilled cancer treatment on the planet. Since serratiopeptidase works by breaking up fibrin and exposing tiny tumors to the immune system, it is more likely to be helpful in extending remission than in fighting advanced cancer, although it may be a part of treatment even later in the disease. Be sure to confer with your oncologist before taking any proteolytic enzyme for cancer.
  • Treating dental issues with serratiopeptidase.  Pharmaceutical researchers in India have been developing a gel made with serrapeptase and a tetracylcine antibiotic for treating gum disease. It probably wouldn't make gum disease worse to take serratiopeptidase, but there is no real evidence that the orally administered form of the enzyme would necessarily make gum problems better.
  • Treating halitosis with serratiopeptidase. If you have bad breath when you get a stuffy nose, taking serratiopeptidase for up to two weeks may help. Of course, if you have bad breath when you get a stuffy nose, you may not be aware of it.
  • Treating high blood pressure with serratiopeptidase. Some people report improvement in hypertension after taking a product that combines both serratiopeptidase and another proteolytic enzyme called nattokinase. It is actually the nattokinase that makes the difference, not the serrapeptase. The nattokinase breaks down into an ACE-inhibitor that lowers blood pressure by stopping the production of another enzyme called angiotensinogen. If you are taking an antacid or any of the common medications for gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), nattokinase won't break down in the form that helps high blood pressure.
  • Treating interstitial cystitis with serratiopeptidase. If you have a urinary tract infection that has just started, you are probably better off using unsweetened cranberry juice and making sure you get plenty of fluids, plus taking probiotics. But if you have chronic pain from chronic bladder infections, serratiopeptidase may help break up scar tissue so you can urinate freely with less pain.
  • Treating uterine fibroids with serratiopeptidase. Some women report that taking the silkworm enzyme helps reduce uterine fibroids. The effects of the enzyme will vary throughout the menstrual period as hormone levels change, but the general trend may be toward less pain and bleeding.
What Can Go Wrong with Serratiopeptidase?

A typical complaint about serratiopeptidase goes something like this: "My doctor told me to take 3 capsules of serratiopeptidase every day starting a week after I had rotator cuff surgery, but I decided to take 10 capsules starting just as soon as I got home. My arm hurts. It's the supplement's fault."

Serratiopeptidase is so effective that even many doctors recommend it (and my preferred brand, in which I had no role in formulating or marketing, is Doctor's Best). But you really need to follow the directions to get a good result. Remember that serratiopeptidase and other proteolytic enzymes are something you take after surgery to accelerate healing, not before surgery when they might increase bleeding. 

What Do Scientists Know About Serratiopeptidase in Supporting Good Health?

Despite what you might read in Wikipedia about serratiopeptidase, there have been 70 published studies of this popular silkworm enzyme. When Japanese pharmaceutical companies started making and marketing serrapeptase and serratiopeptidase products in the early 1970's, the standard of proof was to make sure the product caused no harm and to accept all levels of evidence that it helped. Serrapeptase products became popular before the age of double-blind controlled clinical testing, as did aspirin, penicillin, and countless medical procedures. There have been about 10 small-scale clinical studies of serratiopeptidase in the last 20 years but none of them meets the standards of evidence that are operationalized in the half-billion dollars studies that pharmaceutical companies now use to prove new drugs.

While scientific purists would strongly and sometimes stridently disagree, I believe that experiences of millions of users count for something. There are no reports of toxicity or serious side effects from serratiopeptidase. Used to support sensible health practices and timely medical care, serratiopeptidase is often extremely helpful.

The US Food and Drug Administration and the regulatory agencies of the European Union and dozens of countries around the world agree. Serratiopeptidase stays on the market because it is safe and effective. The Takeda company has taken serratiopeptidase out of its product lineup because of the direction of its marketing efforts, but over a dozen other ethical companies have taken its place.

Just about the only way you can go wrong with this potent proteolytic enzyme is forgetting that it's just not something you use as the only treatment for any condition. It is always supplemental to the treatments your doctor prescribes and your own sensible health care. And anyone who uses serratiopeptidase should disclose that fact to the doctor ahead of time.


  1. I enjoyed reading this article. PLease continue publishing helpful topics like this. Regards, from beddingstock

  2. I started taking serrapeptase and developed "poison oak" looking hives. Has anyone else experienced this? I never got to see if it worked for fibromyalgia.

  3. I had never heard of this, but I checked the medical literature and found one case report, so yes it CAN happen. I'm sorry you didn't get any benefit from this, but if you are still looking for supplements that MAY help with fibromyalgia, you might want to look into Wakasa Gold. It's a sanitary form of an algae known as Chlorella. It's not a miracle cure but it can help--and that's also in the medical literature. I hope this helps.

  4. I have GERD. Im thinking of starting to take serrapeptase for my arteries as well as back pain.. is it ok if i take serrapeptase with antacids? I was reading tht its quite common for the attack to accur when taking serrapetase.. thanks in advace..

  5. Can serapeptase increase your protein level in urine and cause a uti through the elimination process. I have had uti stared the week I started serapeptase, I have taken 2 rounds of antibiotics and that caused a yeast infection.Treated with oral med. Ended up taking the 2nd pill 2 days later bc symptom.

  6. Serrapeptase is a protein decomposition enzymes produced by bacteria serratia . Can decompose slow bradykinin, fibrin and fibrinogen. serrapeptase enzyme

  7. sounds like awesome products and supplements! always useful to have something like that around.
    Doctors Best High Potency Serrapeptase,120,000 SPU