The Health Benefits of Nattokinase

Dr. Group
by Dr. Edward Group DC, NP, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM
Last Updated on

A bowl of natto. Nattokinase was extracted from natto.

Nattokinase is a powerful proteolytic, or protein-digesting enzyme, and is most well known for its benefits to cardiovascular health. Traditionally, nattokinase was extracted from natto, a fermented soybeans dish from Japanese cuisine and culture. The organism that produces nattokinase is made by a fermentation process which incorporates the bacteria Bacillus subtilis. It was discovered in Japan by research scientist Dr. Hiroyuki Sumi who was looking for a natural remedy for dissolving blood clots related to heart attacks and stroke.

Nattokinase, a serine protease is an enzyme that helps reduce blood clotting. This fibrinolytic (anti-clotting) ability makes it an extremely powerful, all-natural enzymatic wellness support for the cardiovascular system. Nattokinase has also been shown to offer relief from joint swelling, which is also related to fibrin formation. Fibrin is a protein (formed from its precursor protein fibrinogen) during the blood clotting process. Like its name suggests, fibrins form a fibrous mesh which slows and stops blood flow at a wound site, or creates a blood clot in the body.

As many of you know, cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. As we age, fibrinogen (blood clotting potentials) levels rise and the enzymes that help dissolve these clots actually decline.

According to a report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, nearly 800,000 people in the U.S. have a stroke every year [1]. What is more, the American Heart Association states that almost every year, more than 700,000 people in the U.S. will have a heart attack, with more than 600,000 dying from heart disease annually.[2] Clinical studies also suggest that nattokinase may help prevent deep vein thrombus formation.

How Does Nattokinase Work in the Body?

Nattokinase is also categorized as fibrinolytic protease, which is an enzyme whose basic function is to hydrolyze or break down proteins. Because proteins have a fairly complex structure, they require enzymes to break them down into absorbable and digestible individual amino acid units. Nattokinase has the distinct ability to break down the adhesive protein substance that makes arterial plaque very sticky. In this way, it supports a preventative and reversing effect on blood clotting and plaque build up in the arteries.[2, 3]

Everyday, people eat foods that can lead to an increase in body inflammation and unhealthy levels of cholesterol. This sets up a paradigm which puts humans are at high risk for blood clot, heart disease, and stroke.[1, 2] Nattokinase is one type of enzyme that can break down these clots by directly cleaving the bonds of the fibrin protein components and also by hastening the production of the body’s own fibrin buster (plasmin) without many of the negative side effects of pharmaceutical drugs.[3, 4]

Nattokinase can also break down toxins in the body, cellular debris in the blood, and undigested proteins in the gut. With the distinct ability to break down peptide bonds and liberate amino acids, proteolytic enzymes like nattokinase are now being studied for their clinical and therapeutic use in the realms of general oncology and overall immune system. Nattokinase is also resistant to the stomach’s highly acidic environment, allowing it to pass to the intestines intact.[5]

What Are the Health Benefits of Nattokinase?

Scientific studies firmly support the many health benefits of nattokinase. The following list describes some of the potential benefits of supplementing with nattokinase, as well as some of the exciting research being done on nattokinase and its applications to human health and disease prevention and management:

  • Supports normal blood pressure[6]
  • Discourages blood clots from forming and aids in the natural dissolution of existing clots[3, 4]
  • Dissolves fibrin and supports the body’s natural ability to keep blood vessels clean[3, 4]
  • Stimulates the body’s natural production of plasmin and other important blood clot dissolving components, such as urokinase[7]
  • May aid in the prevention of poor cardiovascular health.[8]
  • May help prevent heart attack and stroke. Studies have shown that nattokinase helps break up and dissolve blood clots.[3, 4] In fact, research confirms that it holds four times more fibrinolytic activity than plasmin, the body’s natural anti-clotting agent.[7]

How to Read the Units of Measurement for Nattokinase

When reading a supplement label which contains nattokinase you may see the letters FU after the amount of nattokinase contained in the formula. One FU (Fibrinolytic Unit) is the measurement given for the enzyme. It comes from the Japanese Pharmacopoeia, whereby one unit is defined as the amount of the enzyme that increases the absorbency of the filtrate at 275 nm by 0.01 per minute under the conditions of the assay. The higher the FU value, the more active the enzyme.

Where Can I Find the Best Source of Nattokinase?

VeganZyme® contains a 100% vegan form of Nattokinase produced by the natural fermentation process of Bacillus natto or Bacillus subtilis natto. It comes from non-GMO sources, is kosher-certified, gluten-free, made in the USA from globally sourced ingredients, and is suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

VeganZyme is the most advanced full-spectrum systemic and digestive enzyme formula in the world and is free from fillers and toxic compounds. This formula contains digestive enzymes, which help digest fats (lipids), sugars, proteins, carbohydrates, gluten, fruits and vegetables, cereals, legumes, bran, nuts and seeds, soy, dairy, and all other food sources.

References (8)
  1. "Stroke information." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 3 May 2018. Accessed 18 Jun. 2018.
  2. "Heart Disease Facts." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 28 Nov. 2018. Accessed 18 Jun. 2018.
  3. Sumi H, et al. "Enhancement of the fibrinolytic activity in plasma by oral administration of nattokinase." Acta Haematol. 1990;84(3),139-43.
  4. Suzuki Y, et al. "Dietary supplementation of fermented soybean, natto, suppresses intimal thickening and modulates the lysis of mural thrombi after endothelial injury in rat femoral artery." Life Sci. 2003;73(10),1289-98.
  5. Weng Y, et al. "Nattokinase: An Oral Antithrombotic Agent for the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease." Int J Mol Sci. 2017; 18(3),523.
  6. Kim JY, et al. "Effects of nattokinase on blood pressure: a randomized, controlled trial." Hypertens Res. 2008 Aug;31(8):1583-8.
  7. Kotb E. "Nattokinase In Fibrinolytic Bacterial Enzymes with Thrombolytic Activity. Heidelberg, Germany: Springer Science & Business Media."
  8. Jang J-Y, et al. "Nattokinase improves blood flow by inhibiting platelet aggregation and thrombus formation." Lab Anim Res. 2013 Dec; 29(4): 221–225.

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