If you want to protect yourself from heart attack and strokes you might consider adding Nattokinase to your diet. I first heard about Nattokinase well over 15 years ago, when my father was investigating a new drug he heard about that dissolved clots. It was promising wonderful things and then abruptly disappeared out of the news. Little surprise really, the ‘drug’ was a soy based extract but I didn’t know that at the time.
Nattokinase reverses heart damage and stops stroke and heart attack
I remember he told me it was completely plant based and had been shown to reverse heart disease. He spent years trying to track it down because he suffered from clogged arteries which eventually resulted in a triple bypass. At the time Dad told me about it I didn’t have enough nutrition knowledge to be able away to find it. He never forgot about it and kept mentioning it over the years. Eventually I started to seek out information about it. All I had was the name of a company in Australia and a few letters and numbers by which the extract was known. With this little bit of information after some serious searching I was able to discover that this amazing extract used in the drug was Nattokinase. What ever happened to it I don’t know, but it never did hit the market in that form.
Nattokinase is an enzyme found in Natto which is a fermented product and I’m all about fermented products because beneficial yeasts and bacteria really do help support the body. There are hundreds of different strains of bacteria and yeasts used in fermenting foods. The kind of bacteria used to ferment soy is called Bacillus natto also called Bacillus subtilis. When Bacillus Natto ferments soy it produces vitamin K2 in addition to Nattokinase. Enzymes are critical to the functioning of the human body and perform tasks like helping chemical reactions to occur efficiently and restore proper balance to the body. Enzymes are very specific to jobs that they need to do – so possessing sufficient amounts of a particular enzyme can be very beneficial.
Nattokinase stops the bleeding that results from stroke
One of the jobs of your body is to stop bleeds when they occur. Clots are formed by the action of an enzyme called thrombin on proteins which are called fibrinogen. Fibrin is the end result – the mesh that scabs over a cut on your body and stops it bleeding. When your arteries get damaged and bleed (the result of small oxidized LDL cholesterol) your body has to stop the bleed – along comes fibrinogen and thrombin and *voila* your bleeding stops. Thing is when this happens inside your cells, or the cavities of you heart it can cause problems. These kinds of clots are called a thrombus and can block blood flow, causing strokes and heart attacks. When they break away and flow through the bloodstream they can get stuck somewhere are called an embolism again causing stroke and heart attack.
The body has a way of dissolving clots once they are no longer needed. It produces a substance called plasmin to do this job and the name of the job it does is fibrinolysis. Unfortunately as you age you produce less plasmin, and not only this, you also produce more thrombin the stuff that forms the clots. It doesn’t help if you are overweight because that also affects the amount of plasmin that you produce. This is where Nattokinase can help because it has the ability to dissolve clots and it helps the body to produce more of its own plasmin.
So how much Nattokinase do you need and realistically where are you going to get it? Natto is a sticky gooey soybean dish traditionally served over rice. Chances are you won’t like it much because Natto has a very strong flavour and to get the benefit you need to eat about several ounces of it per day. Natto’s flavour is too strong for the western palate by all accounts. Apparently it tastes like pungent cheese or rotten food. An expat living in Japan commented on a forum that it smells like spoiled vomit and feet. Great – we are really going to enjoy that aren’t we? Too bad it’s apparently so horrible because Natto contains plenty of vitamin K2 that helps to prevent osteoporosis and calcification of soft tissue which contributes to vascular disease. See my post on vitamin K for more about this.
OK so I guess I’m not likely to include natto in my diet anytime soon. I would love actually like it, because it’s undoubtedly much cheaper to eat it than buy it as a supplement. And the fresh version may have more of the active element than the stored version. However way back in 1936 natto contained much greater amounts of Nattokinase, vitamin K2 and antibacterial activity than it does now. The change came about because in occupied Japan the sale of it was banned for suspicion of spreading typhoid and cholera. According to Dr Sumi – the Japanese researcher who discovered the clot dissolving abilities of Nattokinase- a pure cultured strain was developed for better taste and safety and doesn’t have the same amount of ‘uumph’ that it once did. Nonetheless, the type we have today is still very effective at doing what it does. Sumi performed a trial where 7 ounces successfully reduced firbrinogen activity. Supplemental forms of probiotics do work too and may be the only way that some people will take them. I guess that might be very true for getting your dose of Nattokinase.
Nattokinase might be best in supplement form
For myself and my husband (who I can guarantee would not eat this spoiled vomit rotten cheese smelling food) – I will definitely get supplements. Why? Because we are at the age where we are approaching risk for stroke and heart attack and neither of us take pharmaceuticals. I’m not in anyway suggesting that if you need to take them – that you don’t take pharmaceuticals – but I am stubborn about it and have not yet suffered a cardiac event. And I don’t want to – that’s why I’m going to add it. I want clots to dissolve and a I want a healthy vascular system. For my Dad, by the time I found out about Nattokinase I wasn’t about to suggest he go on it because he was already very ill. He was mid 80s taking a plethora of heart medications and very frail with a weak heart- mostly from the damage caused by smoking. I did some research and found that it is certainly possible to suffer an embolism (and die) if you take yourself off Coumadin and replace it with Nattokinase if you suffer from a clotting disorder. The way to approach it I believe is to add it now before you get to the point where you really need pharmaceuticals. But that being said….
If you are on pharmaceuticals and want to take it then see your primary health carer and get monitored so that you can adjust your meds accordingly. It may be the best thing you have done – some people on forums state that they do take it successfully in the place of pharmaceuticals. It may work very well for you but you really need to be closely monitored until you know what the effects are.
The profibrinolytic enzyme subtilisin NAT purified from Bacillus subtilis Cleaves and inactivates plasminogen activator inhibitor type 1. Urano T, Ihara H, Umemura K, Suzuki Y, Oike M, Akita S, Tsukamoto Y, Suzuki I, Takada A. J Biol Chem. 2001 Jul 6;276(27):24690-6. Epub 2001 Apr 26.
Nattokinase decreases plasma levels of fibrinogen, factor VII, and factor VIII in human subjects. Hsia CH, Shen MC, Lin JS, Wen YK, Hwang KL, Cham TM, Yang NC. Nutr Res. 2009 Mar;29(3):190-6.
Enhancement of the fibrinolytic activity in plasma by oral administration of nattokinase. Sumi, H. et al Acta haematol 1990, 84: 139-43.
Thrombolytic Effect of Nattokinase on a Chemically Induced Thrombosis Model in Rat. Biological & Pharmaceutical Bulletin Vol.18 , No.10 (1995) pp.1387-1391
Mitsugu Fujita1, Kyongsu Hong1, Yae Ito1, Rie Fujii2, Kimio KARIYA2 and Satoshi NISHIMURO3