A new study out of Taiwan has found that the nattokinase enzyme, which is derived from fermented soy, may help to prevent Alzheimer’s disease. The enzyme has the ability to dissolve amyloid fibrils, which build up as plaque in the brain and can lead to brain cell damage. When this happens, the brain suffers cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s may result. Previous efforts to degrade amyloids have found them to be insoluble and resistant to enzyme action, so discovering the nattokinase effect represents a major breakthrough.
The researchers also found that the nattokinase enzyme could dissolve fibrils that contribute to diabetes and central nervous system degeneration. Earlier research discovered that nattokinase breaks apart blood clots, diminishing the risk of thrombosis and heart attacks. Seventeen clinical studies to date have verified that the enzyme both dissolves existing clots and prevents new ones from forming. According to Dr. Martin Milner of the Center for Natural Medicine in Portland, Oregon, “In some ways, nattokinase is actually superior to conventional clot-dissolving drugs. T-PAs (tissue plasminogen activators) like urokinase (the drug), 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 other clot-dissolving agent. Nattokinase, however, can help prevent that hardening with an oral dose of as little as 100 mg a day.” Plus, as Dr. Milner does not mention, nattokinase has none of the side effects of anti-clotting drugs such as Warfarin.
Nattokinase is derived from natto, a popular food in Japan. The researchers note, “Since natto has been ingested by humans for a long time, it would be worthwhile to carry out an epidemiological study on the rate of occurrence of various amyloid-related diseases in a population regularly consuming natto.” In other words, simply eating natto for dinner might give the Alzheimer-busting benefits. We already know that Japanese men have far lower dementia rates than in Western nations. In Japan, only 1.5 percent of all men over the age of 65 have dementia of any kind, compared to 13.9 percent of the population over age 71 in the US. Perhaps this 900% skew has to do with the fact that natto is a staple of the Japanese diet…then again. To be sure, natto is a rather stinky and slimy dish — an acquired taste — and although these recipes claim to make palatable delights from the stuff, nattokinase supplements are available for the “palately squeamish.”
And taking those supplements may yield yet other benefits. Studies have found that nattokinase has the ability to lower blood pressure by acting as a natural ACE inhibitor. This means that it prevents the “angiotensin converting enzyme” — a key factor in hypertension — from narrowing blood vessels. In human trials, nattokinase has been shown to lead to a 10 percent drop in overall blood pressure readings. Other valuable effects of nattokinase include improved circulation, help with joint and muscle pain, preventing osteoporosis, and inhibiting hardening of arteries.
Nattokinase belongs to the family of proteolytic enzymes. As I’ve written before, the metabolic proteolytic enzymes facilitate chemical reactions in the body, activating processes that control and maintain balance in virtually every single system. Other members of the proteolytic family play key roles in the immune system, serving to break down the protective proteins around viruses, bacteria, malignant cells, yeasts, and allergens — actually digesting and destroying the protein-based defense shield of these pathogens and thereby leading to their ultimate elimination. Still others play a key role in the digestive process.
Supplementation can serve several purposes, depending on which enzymes are used and when they are taken. The bottom line is that the right proteolytic enzymes such as nattokinase, taken between meals, can make their way into your bloodstream and travel throughout your body providing all of the benefits described above — and more.
For additional information on what to look for in a supplemental proteolytic enzyme formula that goes beyond plain nattokinase, check out the newsletter, “A Patent Pending Proteolytic Enzyme Formula.” And for those of you looking for such a formula, Baseline Nutritionals sells a version under the name pHi-Zymes