What Is Nattokinase?
Nattokinase is a potent clot dissolving substance (an enzyme) extracted from a traditional Japanese food called Natto. It is produced by a fermentation process after adding Bacillus natto, a friendlyl bacteria, to boiled soybeans. This produces a fermented cheese-like food that has been used in Japan for over 1000 years for its popular taste and as a folk remedy for heart and vascular diseases. It contains nattokinase enzyme, a great clot buster that may be even superior to current drugs, such as Warfarin and Urokinase.
The Discovery of Nattokinase
Doctor Hiroyuki Sumi had long searched for a natural agent that could successfully dissolve thrombus associated with cardiac and cerebral infarction (blood clots associated with heart attacks and stroke). Sumi discovered nattokinase in 1980 while working as a researcher and majoring in physiological chemistry at Chicago University Medical School. After testing over 173 natural foods for clot-dissolvingpotential, Sumi found what he was looking for when Natto was dropped onto artificial clot (thrombus) in a Petri dish and allowed it to stand at 37 C (approximately body temperature). The thrombus around the natto dissolved gradually and had completely dissolved within 18 hours. Sumi named the newly discovered enzyme "nattokinase", which means "enzyme in natto".
Potent Thrombolytic Activity
The human body produces several types of enzymes for making thrombus, but only one main enzyme for breaking it down and dissolving it - plasmin. The properties of nattokinase closely resemble plasmin. According to Dr. Martin Milner, from the Center for Natural Medicine in Portland, Oregon, what makes nattokinase a particularly potent treatment, 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 some ways, Milner says, nattokinase is actually superior to conventional clot-dissolving drugs, which 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." 1,7
The Prolonged Action of Nattokinase
Nattokinase produces a prolonged action (unlike antithrombin drugs that wear off shortly after IV treatment is discontinued) in two ways: it prevents coagulation of blood and it dissolves existing thrombus. Activity of NK has been determined to last from 8 to 12 hours.
The Mechanism Behind Thrombus
Blood clots (or thrombi) form when strands of protein called fibrin accumulate in a blood vessel. In the heart, blood clots cause blockage of blood flow to muscle tissue. If blood flow is blocked, the oxygen supply to that tissue is cut off and it eventually dies. This can result in angina and heart attacks. Clots in chambers of the heart can mobilize to the brain. In the brain, blood clots also block blood and oxygen from reaching necessary areas, which can result in senility and/or stroke.
Thrombolytic enzymes are normally generated in the endothelial cells of the blood vessels. As the body ages, production of these enzymes begins to decline, making blood more prone to coagulation. This mechanism can lead to cardiac or cerebral infarction, as well as other conditions. Since endothelial cells exist throughout the body, such as in the arteries, veins and lymphatic system, poor production of thrombolytic enzymes can lead to the development of thrombotic conditions virtually anywhere in the body.
It has recently been revealed that thrombotic clogging of the cerebral blood vessels may be a cause of dementia. It has been estimated that sixty percent of senile dementia patients in Japan is caused by thrombus. Thrombotic diseases typically include cerebral hemorrhage, cerebral infarction, cardiac infarction and angina pectoris, and also include diseases caused by blood vessels with lowered flexibility, including senile dementia and diabetes (caused by pancreatic dysfunction). Hemorrhoids are considered a local thrombotic condition. If chronic diseases of the capillaries are also considered, then the number of thrombus related conditions may be much higher. Cardiac infarction patients may have an inherent imbalance in that their thrombolytic enzymes are weaker than their coagulant enzymes. Nattokinase holds great promise to support patients with such inherent weaknesses in a convenient and consistent manner, without side effects.
Nattokinase is capable of directly and potently decomposing fibrin as well as activating pro-urokinase (endogenous).
Research In The United States
Dr. Martin Milner of the Center for Natural Medicine in Portland, Oregon and Dr. Kouhei Makise of the Imadeqawa Makise Clinica in Kyoto, Japan were able to launch a joint research project on nattokinase and write an extensive paper on their findings. "In all my years of research as a professor of cardiovascular and pulmonary medicine, natto and nattokinase represents the most exciting new development in the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular related diseases," Dr. Milner said. "We have finally found a potent natural agent that can thin and dissolve clots effectively, with relative safety and without side effects." 1
Animal & Human Studies
Nattokinase has been the subject of 17 studies, including two small human trials.
Dr. Sumi and his colleagues induced blood clots in male dogs, then orally administered either four capsules of nattokinase (250 mg per capsule) or four placebo capsules to each dog. Angiograms (X-rays of blood vessels) revealed that the dogs who received nattokinase regained normal blood circulation (free of the clot) within five hours of treatment. Blood clots in the dogs who received only placebo showed no sign of dissolving in the 18 hours following treatment.1
Researchers from Biotechnology Research Laboratories and JCR Pharmaceuticals Co. of Kobe, Japan, tested nattokinase's ability to dissolve a thrombus in the carotid arteries of rats. Animals treated with nattokinase regained 62% of blood flow, whereas those treated with plasmin regained just 15.8 percent of blood flow.
Researchers from JCR Pharmaceuticals, Oklahoma State University, and Miyazaki Medical College tested nattokinase on 12 healthy Japanese volunteers (6 men and 6 women, between the ages of 21 and 55). They gave the volunteers 200 grams of natto (the food) before breakfast, then tracked fibrinolytic activity through a series of blood plasma tests. The tests indicated that the natto generated a heightened ability to dissolve blood clots: On average, the volunteers' ELT (a measure of how long it takes to dissolve a blood clot) dropped by 48 percent within two hours of treatment, and volunteers retained an enhanced ability to dissolve blood clots for 2 to 8 hours. As a control, researchers later fed the same amount of boiled soybeans to the same volunteers and tracked their fibrinolytic activity. The tests showed no significant change.
The Benefits of Nattokinase on Blood Pressure
Traditionaly in Japan, Natto has been consumed not only for cardiovascular support, but also to lower blood pressure. In recent years, this traditional belief has been confirmed by several clinical trials. In 1995, researchers from Miyazaki Medical College and Kurashiki University of Science and Arts in Japan studied the effects of nattokinase on blood pressure in both animal and human subjects. In addition, the researchers confirmed the presence of inhibitors of angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE), which converts angiotensin I to its active form angiotensin II within the test extract, which consisted of 80% ethanol extract of lyophilized viscous materials of natto. ACE causes blood vessels to narrow and blood pressure to rise - by inhibiting ACE, nattokinase has a lowering effect on blood pressure.
The traditional Japanese food Natto has been used safely for over 1000 years. The potent fibrinolytic enzyme nattokinase appears to be safe based upon the long-term traditional use of this food. Nattokinase has many benefits including convenience of oral administration, confirmed efficacy, prolonged effects, cost effectiveness, and can be used preventatively. It is a naturally occurring, food based dietary supplement that has demonstrated stability in the gastrointestinal tract, as well as to changes in pH and temperature.
- Prevent Heart Attack and Stroke with Potent Enzyme that Dissolves Deadly Blood Clots in Hours. Health Sciences Institute, March 2002.
- Maruyama M, Sumi H. Effect of Natto Diet on Blood Pressure. JTTAS, 1995.
- Sumi H, Hamada H, Nakanishi K, Hiratani H. Enhancement of the fibrinolytic activity in plasma by oral administration of nattokinase. Acta Haematol 1990;84(3):139-43.
- Sumi H, Hamada H, Mihara H. A novel strong fibrinolytic enzyme (nattokinase) in the vegetable cheese "natto." International 5. Journal of Fibronolysis and Thrombolysis. Abstracts of the ninth international congress on fibrinolysis, Amsterdam, 1988, Vol.2, Sup.1:67.
- Sumi H, Hamada H, Tsushima H, Mihara H, Muraki H. A novel fibrinolytic enzyme (nattokinase) in the vegetable cheese Natto; a typical and popular soybean food in the Japanese diet. Experientia 1987, Oct 15;43(10):1110-1.
- Sumi H. Healthy Microbe "Bacillus natto". Japan Bio Science Laboratory Co. Ltd
- Sumi H. Interview With Doctor of Medicine Hiroyuki Sumi. Japan Bio Science Laboratory Co. Ltd.
- Sumi H. Structure and Fibronolytic Properties of Nattokinase.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.