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Nattokinase Print E-mail
by Ron Kennedy, M.D., Santa Rosa, CA

Dr. Kennedy In the West, more people die of vascular disease than any other kind of disease process, even more than cancer. A full 2/3 of Americans die of directly of vascular disease or of its complications and the numbers are not different in Europe. Now a potent chemical found in natto (a fermented soya bean product) has been discovered which may reverse this trend. Natto is widely consumed in Janpan and the longevity and health of the Japanese may be a result. This has lead to the development of a natural remedy called Nattokinase, which has the ability to dissolve the harmful blood clots implicated in cardiovascular disease and strokes. It can also lower blood pressure. The original research was done by Dr Hiroyuki Sumi, a Japanese researcher at Chicago University. Dr Sumi and his team isolated an enzyme in natto (derived from a process of fermentation involving soya beans and a beneficial bacteria called Bacillus natto). They found that it alone possessed exactly the properties they were looking for. This led to the marketing by various companies of a product called Nattokinase, a simply little enzyme capsule.

Blood clots (thrombi) are clumps of a naturally-occurring protein called fibrin which can accumulate in a blood vessel. The human body produces several enzymes that promote the formation of blood clots (clotting is a vital mechanism that prevents hemorrhaging), but only one that dissolves them. This enzyme, known as plasmin, diminishes with age and this is a contributory factor in deaths from heart disease. A heart attack or angina episode can occur when a blood clot (called a "thrombus") blocks an artery and reduces the supply of oxygen to the heart muscle. A stroke occurs when a clot travels to the brain, where it then blocks a blood vessel. If this blockage is not too severe and resolves soon it is call a TIA (transient ischemic attack) and doctors consider it a prodrome to stroke in many ases.Nattokinase has been found to closely resemble plasmin. Nattokinase closely mimics plasmin with the ability to dissolve blood clots quickly and efficiently and also prevent them from forming in the first place.

The pharmaceutical industry long ago saw the opportunity for extreme profits in clot busting drugs and there are now a number of them in use. They are known as tissue plasminogen activators (t-PAs) and include the drugs Activase, Urokinase and Streptokinase. Unfortunately, t-PAs have their drawbacks. They are extremely expensive and also short-lived, losing effectiveness within 20 minutes. They work only when administered intravenously so they cannot be given to a heart attack or stroke victim until medical help arrives. This delay compromises their life-saving potential. Possible adverse reactions to t-PAs include fever and chills, bleeding, nausea and/or vomiting, mild allergic reactions, transient low or high blood pressure, rapid heart beat, back pain and acidosis. Given these limitations it is not surprising there has been interest in finding a safer, natural alternative.

Dr Sumi has demonstrated that when nattokinase is dropped onto an artificial blood clot and left to stand at body temperature, the clot gradually dissolves and disappears completely within 18 hours. Dr Sumi stated that it showed "a potency matched by no other enzyme." In human trials undertaken by researchers from three organisations - Oklahoma State University, JCR Pharmaceuticals, and Miyazaki Medical College, in Miyazaki, Japan - 12 healthy Japanese volunteers aged between 21 and 55 were given 200 grams of natto daily. Fibrinolytic (pertaining to or causing the breaking up of blood clots) activity was then measured through a series of blood tests. The tests confirmed that natto generated a heightened ability to dissolve blood clots. Nattokinase can prevent arteries from hardening and narrowing. It works by inhibiting blood clots in several different ways. In addition to its plasmin-like properties, it also enhances the body's own production of plasmin.

In some ways, nattokinase is superior to conventional clot-dissolving drugs. T-PAs often fail simply because a stroke or heart attack victim's arteries have hardened over the long term and are beyond the point where they can be treated by any other clot-dissolving agent. Nattokinase, however, can help prevent that hardening in the first place with an oral dose of as little as 100mg a day. Nattokinase remains active in the body for 8 to 12 hours. It not only dissolves existing blood clots, but prevents blood coagulation as well and may be a valuable precautionary measure in the prevention of deep vein thrombosis (DVT), which is associated increasingly with long-haul travel. However, research has yet to confirm this.

In addition to its anti-clotting factors, Nattokinase has been found to reduce blood pressure. It contains substances that inhibit a naturally-occurring enzyme that causes blood vessels to narrow and blood pressure to rise.

The suggested dose for nattokinase is one capsule in the morning, one capsule in the afternoon and two capsules at bedtime. The product may be taken with or without food.

Nattokinase should be avoided by those on blood-thinning drugs and those with bleeding disorders.

The information in this article is not meant to be medical advice.�Treatment for a medical condition should come at the recommendation of your personal physician.

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(836 words)