Nattokinase is made from fermented soybeans used in the traditional Japanese dish called ‘natto.’ This has been a part of the Japanese culture for hundreds of years. Don’t let the smell fool you! Even though this sticky, blue-cheese smelling food may be off-putting, the potential health benefits are worth the mild odor. Plus, the Japanese have been known to use this protein rich food in sushi and even as an ice cream flavor. Ice cream that helps cardiovascular health? Now we’re talking!
Okay so, maybe not ice cream per se. But, Nattokinase has been proven to be a clot-dissolving agent, discovered in the 1980’s by Dr. Hiroyuki Sumi. Livestrong’s website recounted the original experiment, noting that Dr. Sumi was searching for an edible source that was capable of dissolving blood clots in hopes to reduce the chance of heart attacks and strokes. Natto was able to completely dissolve a fibrin clot in a period of 18 hours. In addition to being a blood-thinner, natto is also full of nutrients like vitamin K, iron and magnesium.
Dr. Kathryn Fuchs, who authored the book, “The Health Detectives’ 456 Most Powerful Healing Secrets,” says that the Nattokinase “enzyme reduces arterial thickening and may help heal blood vessels.” She suggests taking a supplement when traveling long distances on airplanes to help stop the formation of blood clots in your legs.
The Global Healing Center’s Dr. Edward Group described how Nattokinase functions inside the body as well as some of the numerous health benefits provided by this enzyme. Since it breaks down fibrin, it helps to stop and even reverse the effects of clogged arteries by removing the sticky component of the arterial plaque that can lead to heart disease, carotid artery disease (which can cause strokes) and peripheral artery disease (which can cause pain, numbness or serious infection in your feet and legs).
Dr. Group lists the health benefits of this enzyme after reiterating that the evidence of these benefits is firmly supported by research studies (not to mention that Nattokinase has been used for over 1,000 years in Japan to support a healthy cardiovascular system and to help with fatigue). Group lists some of the lesser-known potential benefits:
- Shown to stabilize and support the healthy function of the gastrointestinal tract.
- May help to regulate blood pressure.
- Increases the natural production of plasmin and urokinase (blood clot dissolving components).
- May help those suffering from chest pain, varicose veins and muscle spasms or pain.
In regards to lowering the risk of heart attack and stroke, a study conducted by researchers from JCR Pharmaceuticals, Miyazaki Medical College and Oklahoma State University found that within 2 hours of use, Nattokinase could help dissolve blood clots. “Patients taking this enzyme also experienced an enhanced ability to dissolve blood clots for up to 8 hours after [it] was administered.”
Livestrong.com published an article in which the effect nattokinase supplements have on blood pressure was discussed. In 2008, researchers followed 86 people who had been diagnosed with stage 1 hypertensions or prehypertension for eight weeks. This eight week study was published in Hypertension Research, and found that compared to the placebo group, “the nattokinase group showed an average blood pressure reduction of 5.55 millimeters of mercury, or mgHg, in both systolic and diastolic blood pressures.
Another important study published in the 2008 Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry suggested that this enzyme may be useful to those suffering from amyloid-related diseases, defined by an abnormal formation of amyloid fibril plaque. “Amyloidoisis, located at injection sites, occurs in insulin-dependent diabetics. Insulin fibrils form this type of diabetic amyloid; in fact, 20 different human proteins are capable of forming amyloid fibrils.” These plaques also are associated with Alzheimer’s disease, because a defining characteristic of the “disease is the formation of amyloid fibril plaques in the brain.” Researchers found that three different types of synthetically produced amyloid fibrils were digested by nattokinase.
According to the American Heart Association, each year about 1 million people in the United States will suffer from a heart attack, and the United States Centers for Disease Control state that every year over 700,000 people will have a stroke. Help yourself not be one of those unlucky people by making health conscious decisions and making sure you have an adequate amount of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients in your diet. A nattokinase supplement could help you in more than one way…it may even be an excuse to eat Japanese ice cream.