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Serrapeptase

Benefits, dosage, dangers, and side effects

Serrapeptase is an enzyme used in Japan and Europe for decades for pain and inflammation. This article reviews serrapeptase's benefits, dosage, and potential dangers and side effects.

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Serrapeptase: Benefits, dosage, dangers, and side effects
Last updated on October 6, 2023, and last reviewed by an expert on May 19, 2023.

Serrapeptase is an enzyme isolated from bacteria found in silkworms.

Serrapeptase: Benefits, dosage, dangers, and side effects

It has been used in Japan and Europe for years to reduce inflammation and pain due to surgery, trauma, and other inflammatory conditions.

Today, serrapeptase is widely available as a dietary supplement and has many purported health benefits.

This article reviews serrapeptase’s benefits, dosage, potential dangers, and side effects.

In this article

What is serrapeptase?

Serrapeptase — also known as serratiopeptidase — is a proteolytic enzyme that breaks down proteins into smaller components called amino acids.

It’s produced by bacteria in the digestive tract of silkworms and allows the emerging moth to digest and dissolve its cocoon.

The use of proteolytic enzymes like trypsin, chymotrypsin, and bromelain came into practice in the United States during the 1950s after it was observed that they had anti-inflammatory effects.

The same observation was made with serrapeptase in Japan during the late 1960s when researchers initially isolated the enzyme from the silkworm.

Researchers in Europe and Japan proposed that serrapeptase was the most effective proteolytic enzyme for reducing inflammation.

Since then, it has been found to have several possible uses and promising health benefits.

Summary: Serrapeptase is an enzyme that comes from silkworms. Along with its anti-inflammatory properties, it may offer many other health benefits.

Serrapeptase may reduce inflammation

Serrapeptase is most commonly used for reducing inflammation — your body’s response to injury.

In dentistry, the enzyme has been used following minor surgical procedures — such as tooth removal — to reduce pain, lockjaw (spasming of the jaw muscles), and facial swelling.

Serrapeptase is thought to decrease inflammatory cells at the affected site.

One review of five studies aimed to identify and confirm the anti-inflammatory effects of serrapeptase compared to other drugs after the surgical removal of wisdom teeth.

Researchers concluded that serrapeptase was more effective at improving lockjaw than ibuprofen and corticosteroids, powerful drugs that tame inflammation.

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What’s more, though corticosteroids outperformed serrapeptase in reducing facial swelling the day after surgery, differences between the two later on were insignificant.

Still, due to a lack of eligible studies, no analysis could be performed for pain.

In the same study, researchers also concluded that serrapeptase has a better safety profile than the other drugs used in the analysis — suggesting that it could serve as an alternative in cases of intolerance or adverse side effects to other medications.

Summary: Serrapeptase has been shown to reduce some of the symptoms associated with inflammation following the surgical removal of wisdom teeth.

Serrapeptase may curb pain

Serrapeptase has been shown to reduce pain — a common symptom of inflammation — by inhibiting pain-inducing compounds.

One study examined the effects of serrapeptase in nearly 200 people with inflammatory ear, nose, and throat conditions.

Researchers found that the participants who were supplemented with serrapeptase significantly reduced pain severity and mucus production compared to those who took a placebo.

Similarly, another study observed that serrapeptase significantly reduced pain intensity compared to a placebo in 24 people following wisdom teeth removal.

In another study, it was also found to reduce swelling and pain in people following dental surgery — but was less effective than a corticosteroid.

More research is needed to confirm the potential pain-reducing effects of serrapeptase and determine what conditions it may be useful in treating before it can be recommended.

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Summary: Serrapeptase may offer pain relief for people with certain inflammatory ear, nose, and throat conditions. It may also be beneficial for minor postoperative dental surgeries.

Serrapeptase may prevent infections

Serrapeptase may decrease your risk of bacterial infections.

In a so-called biofilm, bacteria can join together to form a protective barrier around their group.

This biofilm protects against antibiotics, allowing bacteria to grow rapidly and cause infection.

Serrapeptase inhibits the formation of biofilms, thereby increasing the effectiveness of antibiotics.

Research has suggested that serrapeptase improves the efficacy of antibiotics in treating Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus), a leading cause of healthcare-associated infections.

Test-tube and animal studies have shown that antibiotics were more effective when combined with serrapeptase in treating S. aureus than antibiotic treatment alone.

What’s more, the combination of serrapeptase and antibiotics was also effective in treating infections that had become resistant to the effects of antibiotics.

Several other studies and reviews have suggested that serrapeptase, combined with antibiotics, may be a good strategy to reduce or stop the progression of infection — especially from antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Summary: Serrapeptase may effectively reduce your risk of infection by destroying or inhibiting the formation of bacterial biofilms. It’s proven to improve the effectiveness of antibiotics for treating S. aureus in test-tube and animal research.

Serrapeptase may dissolve blood clots

Serrapeptase may be beneficial in treating atherosclerosis, a condition where plaque builds up inside your arteries.

It’s thought to act by breaking down dead or damaged tissue and fibrin — a tough protein formed in blood clots.

This could enable serrapeptase to dissolve plaque in your arteries or dissolve blood clots that may lead to stroke or heart attack.

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However, much of the information on its ability to dissolve blood clots is based on personal stories rather than facts.

Therefore, more research is necessary to determine what role — if any — serrapeptase plays in treating blood clots.

Summary: Serrapeptase has been suggested to dissolve blood clots that could lead to a heart attack or stroke, but more research is needed.

Serrapeptase may be useful for chronic respiratory diseases

Serrapeptase may increase mucus clearance and reduce lung inflammation in people with chronic respiratory diseases (CRD).

CRDs are diseases of the airways and other structures of the lungs.

Common ones include chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, and pulmonary hypertension — a type of high blood pressure that affects the vessels in your lungs.

While CRDs are incurable, various treatments can help dilate the air passages or increase mucus clearance, improving quality of life.

In one 4-week study, 29 people with chronic bronchitis were randomly assigned to receive 30 mg of serrapeptase or a placebo daily.

Bronchitis is one type of COPD that leads to coughing and difficulty breathing due to the overproduction of mucus.

People given serrapeptase had less mucus production than the placebo group and could better clear the mucus from their lungs.

However, further studies are needed to support these findings.

Summary: Serrapeptase may be useful for people with chronic respiratory diseases by increasing mucus clearance and reducing inflammation of the airways.

Serrapeptase dosing and supplements

When taken orally, serrapeptase is easily destroyed and deactivated by your stomach acid before it can reach your intestines to be absorbed.

For this reason, dietary supplements containing serrapeptase should be enteric-coated, which prevents them from being dissolved in the stomach and allows for release in the intestine.

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The doses typically used in studies range from 10 mg to 60 mg per day.

The enzymatic activity of serrapeptase is measured in units, with 10 mg equalling 20,000 units of enzyme activity.

You should take it on an empty stomach or at least 30 mins before eating or two hours after finishing a meal.

Summary: Serrapeptase must be enteric-coated to be absorbed. Otherwise, the enzyme will become deactivated in the acidic environment of your stomach.

Potential dangers and side effects of serrapeptase

There are few published studies specifically on the potential adverse reactions to serrapeptase.

However, studies have reported several side effects in people taking the enzyme, including:

Serrapeptase should not be taken along with blood thinners such as Warfarin and aspirin — other dietary supplements like garlic, fish oil, and turmeric may increase your risk of bleeding or bruising.

Summary: Several side effects have been observed in people taking serrapeptase. Taking the enzyme with medications or supplements that thin your blood is not recommended.

Should you supplement with serrapeptase?

The potential uses and benefits of supplementing with serrapeptase are limited, and research evaluating the efficacy of serrapeptase is currently restricted to a few small studies.

There’s also a lack of data on this proteolytic enzyme’s tolerability and long-term safety.

As such, further extensive clinical studies are needed to prove the value of serrapeptase as a dietary supplement.

If you choose to experiment with serrapeptase, speak with your healthcare provider first to determine whether it’s right for you.

Summary: The current serrapeptase data lacks efficacy, tolerability, and long-term safety.

Summary

Serrapeptase is an enzyme used in Japan and Europe for decades for pain and inflammation.

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It may also decrease your risk of infections, prevent blood clots, and aid certain chronic respiratory diseases.

While promising, more research is needed to confirm serrapeptase’s efficacy and long-term safety.

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