Nattokinase has been used in Japan to treat heart and inflammatory diseases for over twenty years. It is a protease (protein digesting) enzyme extracted from the traditional Japanese food, natto. Natto made by the fermentation of boiled soybeans by the bacteria Bacillus natto. Natto has a strong taste and smell and texture that can be an acquired taste.

Nattokinase is similar to plasmin, an enzyme present in the blood that degrades certain plasma proteins, notably fibrin, the protein responsible for blood clots. A deficiency in plasmin may lead to thrombosis, a condition where clots form in the blood vessels. Clots forming in the blood vessels can cause arterial blockages, including heart attacks and stroke. To reduce the risk of these clots forming, doctors often prescribe blood thinners or aspirin.

Scientific analysis has shown that the enzymes produced by the fungi Aspergillus oryzae and A. melleus will also break down fibrin. These enzymes are created by controlled fermentation of Aspergillus oryzae and A. melleus and have similar properties to nattokinase. These enzymes go by the trade name nattozymes.

Antithrombotic Agents

Nattokinase enzyme structureNattokinase and nattozymes have a thrombolytic effect (meaning they can help to break up a clot that is obstructing a blood vessel) and a fibrinolytic effect (which means they break up or digest the fibrin in a blood clot). These effects may help to avoid heart attacks, pulmonary embolism, strokes and other clotting disorders.

These enzymes are effective in a wide range of pH (from 2.75 to 7.75) and can pass through the stomach without being digested by stomach acids Once in the intestines, they are actively transported through the gut wall and are absorbed intact.

If you have deep vein thrombosis (DVI), varicose veins, or a tendency to develop blood clots, you may wish to try a nattokinase enzyme product. It can be helpful to take when traveling on a plane or car as the inactivity tends to increase the risk of blood clots. Typically, you take one capsule between meals on an empty stomach twice daily.

Do not use nattokinase or nattozyme enzymes if you are already taking anticoagulants, aspirin, blood thinning medications like coumadin, or other medicines or herbs that thin the blood. Do not use if you have a bleeding disorder or if are allergic to Aspergillus.

Selected References

  • Nattokinase by M. Fujita, et al, PMID: 8280151 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]. Accessed 2007 from www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov.
  • Nattozymes, a 1:1 alternate for Nattokinase. Accessed 2007 from www.nattozymes.com.

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