Nattokinase is a potent fibrinolytic enzyme extracted and highly purified
from a traditional Japanese food called Natto. Natto is a fermented food that
has been used in Japan for over 1000 years in food recipes and as a folk remedy
for heart and vascular diseases. Natto is produced by adding Bacillus natto,
a beneficial bacterium, to boiled soybeans. Nattokinase enzyme is made when
Bacillus natto ferments the boiled soybeans. While other soy foods contain enzymes,
only natto supplies Nattokinase.
Doctor Hiroyuki Sumi searched for a natural agent that could successfully dissolve
blood clots associated with heart attacks and stroke. Dr Sumi discovered Nattokinase
in 1980 while working as a researcher at Chicago University Medical School.
Blood clots (or thrombi) form when strands of protein called fibrin accumulate
in a blood vessel. After testing over 173 natural foods Dr Sumi found that when
Natto was dropped onto fibrin the clot around the natto dissolved gradually
and had completely dissolved within 18 hours. Dr. Sumi named
the newly discovered enzyme "Nattokinase", which means "enzyme
in natto". Dr Sumi commented that Nattokinase displayed "a potency
matched by no other enzyme."
Our body produces several types of enzymes for making blood clots, but only
one main enzyme for breaking it down and dissolving it – called plasmin.
The properties of Nattokinase closely resemble plasmin. According to Dr. Martin
Milner, from the Center for Natural Medicine in Portland in Oregon, what makes
Nattokinase a particularly potent treatment, is that it enhances the body's
natural ability to fight blood clots. Nattokinase achieves this 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. Urokinase is an enzyme released
by the kidneys that triggers plasmin formation and plasmin dissolves the clots.
"In some ways, Milner says, 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."
Nattokinase produces a prolonged action in two ways (unlike antithrombin drugs
that wear off shortly after treatment is discontinued): it prevents coagulation
of blood and it dissolves existing clots. The activity of Nattokinase has been
determined to last from 8 to 12 hours. 6,7 In the heart, blood clots cause a
blockage of blood flow, and because the oxygen supply to that tissue is cut
off heart muscle tissue eventually dies. This can result in angina and heart
attacks. Clots in chambers of the heart can travel 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 (clotting). 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 clotting conditions virtually anywhere in the body. 1Some of the studies
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.
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 and 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.