Nattokinase: the miracle systemic enzyme from Japan
Fermented soybeans offer enzyme that dissolves fibrin in the body
For several years now, health experts have pointed to the high levels of fish and soybean consumption in Japan as an explanation of why this country's rates of depression, homicide, suicide, prostate and breast cancers and heart disease are so low, compared to those in the United States.
I've never been very convinced by the studies cited, because they failed to factor in such variables as the freshness of their foods, their relative chemical load compared to our commercially produced food products, the use of plastics for storage, microwaving foods, the reliance on processed foods, and other factors so common in America. I've also had lingering doubts about the purported benefits of soybeans. They're quite toxic in their natural state, and really put my lights out. And, or course, there are the questions about toxins in fish.
However, at least in terms of soybeans, there may be an answer to my questions. The answer is called natto.
Natto: the thousand year old answer to health problems
Natto is a Japanese dish made by adding Bacillus natto (a beneficial bacteria) to boiled soybeans. The resulting fermentation process produces a food that tastes like cheese, and has been used in Japan for at least the last 1,000 years to treat heart and vascular disease, beriberi and fatigue. The average annual per capita consumption of natto in Japan is 4.5 pounds.
In research conducted at the University of Chicago Medical School in 1980, Dr. Hiroyuki Sumi found that natto had a surprising ability to prevent fibrous blood clots from forming, and to dissolve blood clots once they were formed. The reason for this was a proteolytic enzyme, which he called nattokinase.
Why nattokinase is so important
The ability to form blood clots in the event of injury is vital to your survival. To accomplish this, your body produces several compounds; one of those is thrombin. These compounds are responsible for the formation of fibrin deposits (called blood clots).
However, when your system is challenged by toxins or bacteria, viruses and fungi, it triggers the release of thrombin into the blood stream, leading to the unwarranted production of fibrin, which leads to a condition of hyper-coagulation. The sticky fibers of this protein float in the bloodstream, clogging — or slowing — the circulation of blood. For most people, this doesn't result in a complete blockage, just problems with impaired circulation.
However, as the circulation slows, fibrin strands start sticking to blood vessel walls, and the circulation is slowed even more. Eventually, tissues become starved for oxygen and nutrients, and toxins and waste materials build up. The worst-case scenario, of course, is when a complete blockage occurs, and you have either a heart attack or stroke.
There is also research that suggests that conditions like Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia, infertility and liver disease might be linked to the buildup of fibrins, which seal in pathogens and protect them from the immune system. This allows them to dump toxins into the system, where they manifest themselves in various symptoms.
Whether the issue is heart disease or conditions like Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or Fibromyalgia, anti-coagulant therapy has shown to offer significant benefits. However, the use of drugs like heparin and warfarin don't get to the root of the problem: the fibrin deposits. Drugs like urokinase, streptokinase and Activase can help, but they are very expensive, and their effects last only about four to twenty minutes.
However, nattokinase is a natural product that is shown to remove fibrin deposits and restore the free circulation of the blood. Japanese researchers have demonstrated that 100 grams of natto has the same fibrinolytic activity as a therapeutic dose of urokinase, and maintains that activity for four to eight hours — a tremendous improvement over urokinase.
There are other options that would be helpful, as well. Almost any systemic enzyme supplement containing a good supply of proteolytic enzymes would eventually help to clear fibrin deposits and restore circulation. However, nattokinase does this more efficiently, and would be the better choice for anyone with heart problems, sluggish circulation or chronic conditions like Fibromyalgia, MS, liver disease or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.