November 29, 2007  

Back to Healthy Heart | Back to Nattokinase


Prevent heart attack and stroke with potent
enzyme that dissolves deadly blood clots in hours


The ability of blood to coagulate can be a crucial part of survival in cases of severe injury. But when blood clots occur at the wrong times, in the wrong places within the body, they can have serious¾even deadly¾consequences. Unfortunately, your treatment options in these circumstances are limited, and treatment must be administered quickly. Which is why prevention and knowing all of your options now¾before problems occur¾is crucial.

Blood clots (or thrombi) form when strands of protein called fibrin accumulate in a blood vessel. In the heart, blood clots cause blockage of blood flow to muscle tissue. If blood flow is blocked, the oxygen supply to that tissue is cut off and it eventually dies. This can result in angina and heart attacks. Clots in chambers of the heart can mobilize to the brain. In the brain, blood clots also block blood and oxygen from reaching necessary areas, which results in senility and/or stroke.

In Japan, the levels of disease and fatalities caused by blood clots are alarming. Researchers estimate that blood clots that diminish blood flow to the brain are responsible for 60 percent of all senility cases in that country.1  l Consequently, Dr. Hiroyuki Sumi¾a Japanese researcher doing work at the University of Chicago's medical school¾began searching for a substance that could dissolve and even prevent blood clots.

His team of researchers tested roughly 173 foods, including several types of liquor, before examining a traditional Japanese food called natto, made from boiled and fermented soybeans. The Japanese have consumed natto for centuries under the belief that it fosters cardiovascular health.

In Dr. Sumi's lab that folk remedy turned into a clinically scrutinized piece of modern medicine. He isolated an enzyme inside natto, called nattokinase, and showed that it can prevent and dissolve blood clots and may be able to safeguard people from hardened arteries, heart attack, stroke, angina, and senility.

Natto may help where modern medicine-and the human body-fall short

While the human body contains several enzymes that promote the creation of blood clots, it produces only one enzyme, plasmin, that dissolves clots, and production of that enzyme diminishes as we age.

Modern medicine includes several thrombolytic or clot-busting drugs. The leading variety is t-PA (tissue plasminogen activators), such as activase, urokinase, and streptokinase. Each year, hospitals give these drugs to more than a million stroke and heart attack patients. The treatment saves between 300,000 and 500,000 lives annually. But it's not a perfect cure. T-PAs are expensive (a dose of urokinase costs approximately US$1,500) so many patients don't receive the treatment. And the drugs' impact can be short-lived. Urokinase, for example, begins to lose effectiveness within four to 20 minutes after administration.

But when Dr. Sumi's researchers dropped natto onto an artificial thrombus (a blood clot) in a petri dish and allowed it to stand at body temperature. the blood clot gradually dissolved and disappeared completely within 18 hours.  Dr. Sumi commented that nattokinase¾the active enzyme in natto¾showed "a potency matched by no other enzyme."2

Then two doctors in two different parts of the world, Dr. Martin Milner of the Center for Natural Medicine in Portland, Oregon and Dr. Kouhei Makise of the Imadeqawa Makise Clinic in Kyoto, Japan were able to launch a joint research project on nattokinase and write an extensive paper on their findings. "In all my years of research as a professor of cardiovascular and pulmonary medicine, natto and nattokinase represents the most exciting new development in the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular related diseases," Dr. Milner said. "We have finally found a potent natural agent that can thin and dissolve clots effectively, with relative safety and without side effects."

Blood clots dissolve almost 50 percent faster with nattokinase-in as little as two hours

Nattokinase has been the subject of 17 studies, including two small human trials.

Dr. Sumi and his colleagues induced blood clots in male dogs, then orally administered either four capsules of nattokinase (250 mg/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 placebos showed no sign of dissolving in the 18 hours following treatment.

Researchers from Biotechnology Research Laboratories and JCR Pharmaceuticals Co. of Kobe, Japan, tested nattokinase's ability to dissolve a thrombus in the carotid arteries of rats. Animals treated with nattokinase regained 62 percent of blood flow, whereas those treated with plasmin regained just 15.8 percent of blood flow.3

Researchers from three organizations¾JCR Pharmaceuticals, Oklahoma State University, and Miyazaki Medical College¾tested nattokinase on 12 healthy Japanese volunteers (six men and six women, between the ages of 21 and 55). They gave the volunteers 200 grams of natto daily (before breakfast), then tracked fibrinolytic activity in the volunteers 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 two to eight 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.4

Enhance your body's ability to fight clots without IV treatment

According to Dr. Milner, what makes nattokinase a particularly potent treatment is that it bolsters the body's natural abilities to fight blood clots in several different ways. It closely resembles plasmin and dissolves fibrin directly. In addition, it also enhances the body's production of both plasmin and other natural clot-dissolving agents, including urokinase.

In some ways, he says, nattokinase is actually superior to conventional clot-dissolving drugs. T-PAs like urokinase 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 clot-dissolving agent. Nattokinase, however, can help prevent that hardening with an oral dose of as little as 100 mg a day.

Reduce blood pressure by 10 percent

Many Japanese have long believed that regular consumption of natto tends to lower blood pressure. Over the past several years, this belief has been substantiated by several clinical trials: In 1995, researchers reported that they had confirmed the presence. of angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors in natto.6  ACE causes blood vessels to narrow and blood pressure to rise. Consequently, substances that inhibit the production of ACE help lower blood pressure.

Researchers from two Japanese institutions¾the Miyazaki Medical College and the Kurashiki University of Science and Arts¾Iaunched studies to test natto's impact on blood pressure in both rats and humans. They administered a single dose of natto extract (the equivalent of 25 mg of natto) into the peritoneal cavity of six male rats. On average, the rats' systolic blood pressure fell by 12.7 percent within two hours.7

The researchers then tested natto extract on humans. Five volunteers with high blood pressure each received the extract daily (an oral dose equivalent to 200 grams of natto) for four consecutive days. In four of the five volunteers, both systolic and diastolic blood pressure dropped. On average, systolic blood pressure fell by 10.9 percent and diastolic fell 9.7 percent.

California company helps bring Japanese discovery to America

Since natto is traditionally a Japanese food, and one that is referred to even there as "an acquired taste," it isn't readily available in the United States. Nutricology of California, has investigated the research, and impressed by the clinical results, has arranged to bring nattokinase supplements to the U.S. market.


1 “Interview with Doctor of Mediine Hiroyuki Sumi,” Japan Bio Science Laboratory Co. Ltd.

2 Acra Haematol 1990; 84: 139-43

3 Bioi Pharm Bull 1995 Oct; 18(10): 1,387-91.

4 Acta Haematol 1990; 84: 139-43

5 Plant Foods Hum Nutr 1995 Jan; 47(1)" 39-47

6 JTTAS 1995

7 ibid.



Information and statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. Products offered are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Dietary supplements are intended solely for nutritional support and individual results may vary.
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