Serrapeptase is an enzyme used to treat pain and inflammation. It has a range of other potential health benefits like lowering heart disease risk, reducing excess mucus, and even boosting sperm count. However, available studies are limited. Read on to see if serrapeptase is right for you.
What Is Serrapeptase?
An Anti-Inflammatory Enzyme
It was first isolated from gut bacteria (Serratia E15) of silkworms, which use this enzyme to break down their cocoon walls .
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are used more often, but they have many side effects. Therefore, alternatives like serrapeptase with fewer side effects are becoming more popular .
Serrapeptase vs. Nattokinase
One study in zebrafish found that serrapeptase was more effective than nattokinase in breaking down amyloid plaques .
Combinations of serrapeptase and nattokinase can break down biofilms, which commonly prolong infection .
Health Benefits of Serrapeptase
1) Reduces Inflammation and Swelling
Dead cells and tissues (cellular debris) cause inflammation by overstimulating the immune system. Serrapeptase promotes the breakdown of this debris, helping to drain fluid and harmful substances from the inflammatory site [8, 9].
It also inactivates toxins that cause swelling and pain .
Serrapeptase reduced swelling in the cheek after sinus surgery in 174 patients. In other trials, it decreased swelling in the jaw and ankle following operations, as well as swelling in the upper and lower limbs [10, 11, 12, 13].
Because of this, serrapeptase can reduce inflammation due to :
- Inflammation in the sinuses
- Inflammation in the lungs
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
However, in a study of 150 patients who underwent dental operations, serrapeptase did not show a significant anti-inflammatory effect .
2) Reduces Pain
Serrapeptase reduced pain in a study of 24 postoperative patients .
Similarly, it decreased pain by 64% and nighttime cramps by 53% in 40 patients with inflammatory venous disease .
It also mildly reduced pain in 50 patients suffering from leg and arm injuries .
Serrapeptase is most effective in reducing pain in localized areas of inflammation like the ears, nose, or throat .
However, it did not show any significant pain-relieving effects after dental surgery (150 patients) and fared worse than drugs like ibuprofen and betamethasone .
3) Reduces Mucus and Other Secretions
In a study of 29 patients with difficulty breathing due to blocked airways, serrapeptase significantly improved mucus clearance. The amount of phlegm and saliva and cough frequency also decreased after the treatment .
Another study of 193 patients discovered that serrapeptase reduced nasal secretions, difficulty swallowing, and obstructions in the nose .
4) Removes Blood Clots and Plaques
Serrapeptase can break down fibrin, a blood clotting molecule, in dead tissue without damaging the surrounding healthy tissue. This helps remove blood clots and plaques, allowing for better antibiotic treatment as they are able to further penetrate into the tissue .
Microbial biofilms grow on mucosa and other surfaces and cause infections. Serrapeptase can break down biofilms made of fibrin .
5) May Help with Alzheimer’s Disease
In rats, serrapeptase increased the levels of BDNF and IGF-1, both of which protect brain cells . It also reduced the activity of inflammatory markers, TGF-beta and IL-6, normally high in Alzheimer’s patients .
Serrapeptase can also break down amyloid plaques in zebrafish .
6) May Reduce the Risk of Stroke
Serrapeptase dissolves dead and damaged tissue without harming healthy tissue. It can thus remove deposits or clots of fat, cholesterol, cellular waste, calcium, and fibrin that can build up in arteries [24, 25].
Removing these deposits can prevent atherosclerosis and lower the risk of stroke .
7) Improves Breast Engorgement
Serrapeptase treatment can improve breast engorgement or painful overfilling of the breasts with milk. It reduced breast pain, swelling, and hardness in 60 out of 70 patients .
Although not stated in the literature, serrapeptase may be transferred through breast milk. Please consult with a doctor before taking serrapeptase while breastfeeding.
8) Improves Vein Inflammation
Serrapeptase brought improvement in 26/40 patients with superficial thrombophlebitis (pain and inflammation caused by a blood clot in the vein). Many symptoms such as pain, inflammation, and skin patches (erythema) decreased after the treatment .
9) May Reduce Dental Implant Inflammation
Peri-implantitis is inflammation of the soft and hard tissue of dental implants. Patients that received serrapeptase healed faster and had lower implant failure rates than patients receiving placebo or NSAIDs .
10) May Improve Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
In a study, 13 of 20 patients with carpal tunnel syndrome showed significant improvement after serrapeptase treatment. However, the condition recurred in four patients .
11) May Increase Sperm Count
A combination of antibiotics and serrapeptase increased sperm count in 22 out of 50 infertile men with accessory gland infections. Because serrapeptase enhances the activity of antibiotics, it may partly account for this effect .
Despite the popular opinion, there is no scientific evidence to back up the use of serrapeptase in:
- Fibroids (noncancerous growths in women’s uteri)
- Bartholin cyst (swelling of the Bartholin gland)
- Endometriosis (abnormal uterine tissue growth)
In one study, 5.6% of rats remained infected when treated with serrapeptase + antibiotics, compared with 37.5% of rats treated with only antibiotics .
A study of 18 lung-cancer patients found that serrapeptase increased lung cefotiam (antibiotic) blood levels by 44%. This is especially useful for patients needing lung surgery .
Limitations and Caveats
Despite its wide usage as a drug and supplement, clinical studies proving serrapeptase effectiveness in treating pain and inflammation are limited. Larger, better-designed trials should confirm its benefits. In addition, research on the side effects and long-term safety of this enzyme is lacking .
Serrapeptase Side Effects and Dangers
When taken orally, serrapeptase can cause anorexia, nausea, and disturbances in the gut .
Other possible side effects include :
- Skin inflammation
- Bulls-eye shaped lesions of the skin
- Muscle ache
- Joint pains
- Blood clot abnormalities
Although rare, cases were reported when serrapeptase caused pneumonia. Three adults saw worsening of their symptoms and development of pneumonia. Stopping the treatment reduced pneumonia symptoms [36, 37, 38].
Patients with abscesses, especially in the cheek area, should avoid serrapeptase. The drug can cause painful swelling in the abscess area (pus collection) .
Serrapeptase Dosage and Supplements
Most clinical studies use serrapeptase in a dosage ranging from 10 to 60 mg/day .
Serrapeptase gels or ointment for the skin are also available. These forms are better for localized treatments and produce fewer side effects .
For the best results, take it on an empty stomach or 2 hours after eating and don’t eat anything for the next 30 minutes .
Reviews of serrapeptase are fairly mixed. Serrapeptase has helped some people with inflammation and pain, but they did mention that other drugs seemed to work better.
Most users take it for joint pain and swelling. Reported side effects include fatigue and headaches.
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Serrapeptase is an enzyme that breaks down proteins. It is popular as an anti-inflammatory supplement.
Serrapeptase can reduce pain and swelling due to injuries, inflammation, surgery, and other conditions. It also helps dissolve mucus, prevents excessive scarring, and helps fight infections.
The typical dosage ranges from 10-60 mg/day. Serrapeptase may cause nausea and other digestive issues. Serious side effects are rare. People with abscesses (pus collections) or bleeding disorders should avoid it.