Whether you’re on the hunt for an anti-inflammatory pain reliever or a means of reducing cysts and fibroids, your solution might come from a rather unusual place — the gut of a silkworm.
Serrapeptase is an enzyme found in specific bacteria in silkworms that can digest and break down proteins.
It can be found as an anti-inflammatory drug in Japan and Europe, as well as in a dietary supplement form in the United States.
Serrapeptase benefits include reducing inflammation, treating acute pain, and breaking down blood clots, fibroids, and cysts.
Serrapeptase is generally considered safe, but certain people may experience negative side effects. Talk to your doctor before starting to use it.
Read on to learn more about serrapeptase’s benefits to determine if it’s the right supplement for your health needs.
What is serrapeptase?
Serrapeptase is a protein that is made by a bacteria called Serratia E-15 that lives in the intestines of silkworms. Serrapeptase is a proteolytic enzyme, which means that it can spur biochemical reactions that metabolize proteins into smaller particles called amino acids. In other words, it can help break down various tissues and clots that involve proteins.
"For example, serrapeptase is released by Serratia E-15 when the silkworm is ready to break out of its cocoon after metamorphosis into a moth. The enzyme then causes the cocoon to dissolve, allowing the moth to escape. "
This protein-metabolizing process also means that serrapeptase also has a variety of medicinal and therapeutic uses for humans. Serrapeptase is particularly popular in Japan and Europe, where it is sold as a drug named Danzen and made by Takeda Chemical Industries. Meanwhile, in North America, serrapeptase is sold as a dietary supplement.
Because of its enzymatic properties, serrapeptase has a variety of potential benefits ranging from pain relief to anti-cancer properties.
Anti-inflammatory benefits of serrapeptase
One of the most popular uses of serrapeptase is as an anti-inflammatory pain reliever. Inflammation is a natural immune response that helps your body heal and fights off potential illnesses, but it can also lead to pain and swelling when left unchecked. Inflammation is also linked to a variety of long-term and chronic conditions.
Several clinical studies have shown that serrapeptase has anti-inflammatory properties and even works well with other anti-inflammatory substances, like aspirin. This means that serrapeptase has been studied for potential therapeutic use in a variety of inflammatory conditions including:
Swelling and pain, especially after injuries, surgeries, and other acute traumas.
- Respiratory illnesses, like bronchitis.
- Alzheimer’s disease.
- Heart conditions.
- Inflammatory bowel diseases, like ulcerative colitis.
Serrapeptase for fertility and women’s health
Serrapeptase can digest proteins associated with scar tissue, cysts, and fibroids, which means it has been linked to various women’s health benefits.
For example, a study evaluated the use of serrapeptase (Danzen) on patients who complained of breast engorgement by dividing participants into two groups that were administered either Danzen or a placebo. The researchers found that 85.7% of the patients who received serrapeptase had “moderate to marked” improvement in their breast pain and swelling, while only 60% of the placebo group saw similar results.
Serrapeptase might also be used for other women’s health issues, like endometriosis, fibroids, and cysts since it can help digest those dead tissues.
Serrapeptase and cancer
This enzymatic activity of digesting dead cells also has promise as a potential anti-cancer substance for killing tumor cells.
In a clinical study, researchers combined serrapeptase with Vitamin C and ashwagandha and injected it directly into the target site of a thyroid tumor, and found complete remission after 18 months of the combination therapy.
In another study, researchers found that the anti-cancer properties of the polyphenol curcumin were amplified when administered in conjunction with serrapeptase.
Serrapeptase and weight loss
Obesity is considered a state of low-grade systemic inflammation, which is why it is often linked to serious chronic inflammatory conditions.
Unfortunately, there is not a ton of evidence as of now to support the use of serrapeptase as a weight loss supplement. What we do know: serrapeptase does have anti-inflammatory properties. So ultimately, more research needs to be completed.
Serrapeptase comes in capsule or pill form and is taken orally up to three times a day. Swallow with water on an empty stomach.
The right serrapeptase dose can depend on your needs, so talk to your doctor before starting serrapeptase or any other medication/supplement.
Here are the general recommendations for serrapeptase dosage:
- 10–20 mg daily for prevention and general pain (note: 10 mg is about 20,000 units of enzymatic activity).
- Up to 30 mg daily for acute injury, trauma, or post-surgery pain relief.
It’s important to note that the effects of long-term serrapeptase use are not fully understood, and many recommendations are for short-term use (under four weeks).
How do you know serrapeptase is working?
Serrapeptase generally starts to work within two to three weeks of use if you’re trying to reduce the size of a cyst or fibroid.
Can I take serrapeptase with coffee?
Anecdotally, some people find that the pain initially increased in targeted areas, then decreased after a while. You may need to check in with a doctor to determine whether the cyst size is decreasing.
Yes, since there is no evidence to suggest that it is not safe to take serrapeptase with coffee or other caffeinated drinks. However, some people may experience minor gastrointestinal distress if taking serrapeptase with coffee.
Serrapeptase drug interactions
Because serrapeptase can affect blood clotting, it can interact negatively with certain medications. Before taking serrapeptase, mention to your doctor if you are also taking:
- Blood thinners. The combination may make blood even thinner.
- Anticoagulant and antiplatelet medications. They may increase your risk of bruising and bleeding.
Nattokinase vs serrapeptase
Serrapeptase is sometimes compared to nattokinase, another enzyme with anti-inflammatory properties.
Nattokinase comes from natto or fermented soybeans. Meanwhile, serrapeptase is isolated from bacteria in the silkworm. Both nattokinase and serrapeptase have anti-inflammatory and fibroid-fighting properties. Differences can come down to individual uses:
- Serrapeptase is often used for pain relief and support for the respiratory system.
- Nattokinase is used more often to promote a healthy cardiovascular system.
Serrapeptase is also sometimes compared to other enzymes including bromelain, an enzyme from the pineapple fruit. Like serrapeptase, bromelain is sometimes used for pain and anti-cancer properties. However, bromelain has also been studied for potential use as a means of removing dead skin tissue on burn victims, which ultimately needs more research.
Serrapeptase side effects
Common side effects from serrapeptase include the following:
- Gastrointestinal distress (e.g., nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain).
- Blood clotting disturbances.
- Muscle and joint pain.
- Liver complications.
Who should not take serrapeptase?
You should not use serrapeptase if:
- Breastfeeding or pregnant.
- Using other blood thinners.
- Have a bleeding disorder.
- Have an upcoming scheduled surgery.
Above all, make sure to talk to your doctor before starting serrapeptase.
Serrapeptase is a promising enzyme that can play roles in fighting inflammation and degrading tissues in cysts and fibroids. It even has the potential as a cancer-fighting ingredient. However, it’s important to talk to your doctor before starting serrapeptase since its long-term effects are not yet known and because it can have negative interactions with a variety of other medications.