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Serrapeptase

What You Need to Know About Serrapeptase

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Updated June 26, 2013

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Serrapeptase (also known as "serratiopeptidase") is an enzyme extracted from a type of bacteria that occurs naturally in the intestines of the silkworm. Found to possess anti-inflammatory properties, serrapeptase is widely available in supplement form.

Uses for Serrapeptase

Proponents claim that serrapeptase can help with a wide range of health problems, including:

Benefits of Serrapeptase

To date, few clinical trials have tested the health effects of serrapeptase. Here's a look at some key findings from the available research:

1) Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Serrapeptase may help manage carpal tunnel syndrome, according to a small study published in The Journal of the Association of Physicians of India in 1999. For the study, 20 carpal tunnel syndrome patients were given 10 mg of serrapeptase twice daily. After six weeks of treatment, 65 percent of cases showed significant improvement.

2) Post-Surgery Pain

A small study published in the International Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery in 2008 suggests that serrapeptase may help alleviate pain and swelling resulting from dental surgery. The study involved 24 healthy people, all of whom underwent surgical removal of impacted molars. Compared to those who were given a placebo in combination with pain medication, participants who received both serrapeptase and pain medication experienced significantly less pain and cheek swelling in the seven days following surgery.

3) Breast Engorgement

For a study published in Singapore Medical Journal in 1989, researchers assigned 70 women with breast engorgement to three days of treatment with either a placebo or serrapeptase. (Very common among breastfeeding women, breast engorgement is a painful condition that occurs when the breasts overfill with milk.) Study results revealed that serrapeptase was superior to the placebo in terms of its effects on breast pain and swelling.

Serrapeptase and Nattokinase

Some manufacturers claim that taking serrapeptase in combination with nattokinase can help treat arthritis, enhance heart health, stimulate the immune system, and reduce inflammation. However, there is currently a lack of scientific evidence to support this claim.

Enteric-Coated Capsules of Serrapeptase

Since serrapeptase is easily broken down by gastric acids, some medical professionals recommend choosing enteric-coated capsules when purchasing serrapeptase supplements.

Serrapeptase Side Effects

Little is known about the safety of long-term use of serrapeptase. However, there is some evidence that taking serrapeptase can harm lung health. For instance, several reports have linked consumption of serrapeptase to increased risk for pneumonitis (a condition marked by inflammation of lung tissue). Due to these safety concerns, it's important to consult your doctor if you're considering the use of serrapeptase.

Sources

Al-Khateeb TH, Nusair Y. "Effect of the proteolytic enzyme serrapeptase on swelling, pain and trismus after surgical extraction of mandibular third molars." Int J Oral Maxillofac Surg. 2008 Mar;37(3):264-8.

Hirahara K, Saitoh T, Terada I, Uno K, Nagai A, Kioi S, Arakawa M. "A case of pneumonitis due to serrapeptase." Nihon Kyobu Shikkan Gakkai Zasshi. 1989 Oct;27(10):1231-6.

Kee WH, Tan SL, Lee V, Salmon YM. "The treatment of breast engorgement with Serrapeptase (Danzen): a randomised double-blind controlled trial." Singapore Med J. 1989 Feb;30(1):48-54.

Nirale NM, Menon MD. "Topical formulations of serratiopeptidase: development and pharmacodynamic evaluation." Indian J Pharm Sci. 2010 Jan;72(1):65-71.

Panagariya A, Sharma AK. "A preliminary trial of serratiopeptidase in patients with carpal tunnel syndrome." J Assoc Physicians India. 1999 Dec;47(12):1170-2.

Sasaki S, Kawanami R, Motizuki Y, Nakahara Y, Kawamura T, Tanaka A, Watanabe S. "Serrapeptase-induced lung injury manifesting as acute eosiniphilic pneumonia." Nihon Kokyuki Gakkai Zasshi. 2000 Jul;38(7):540-4.

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