What Is Serrapeptase (Silkworm Enzyme)? (2023)

Serrapeptase is an enzyme derived from Serratia E-15, an intestinal bacteria a silkworm uses to dissolve its cocoon once it transforms into a moth. Serrapeptase is believed to exert anti-inflammatory effects to reduce pain and swelling, mostly of the upper respiratory tract. It is also used to relieve pain following minor surgery.

Serrapeptase was first isolated by scientists in Japan in the 1960s and soon after became a bestselling drug there (brand name Danzan), later finding its way onto drugstore shelves in Europe and North America as a dietary supplement.

Doubts about the drug's efficacy led its manufacturer, Takeda, to voluntarily withdraw it in 2011. Despite the recall, there are plenty of manufacturers that still produce serrapeptase supplements and point to its efficacy in clinical studies.

Also Known As

  • Butterfly extract
  • Serratiopeptidase
  • Silkworm enzyme

What Is Serrapeptase Used For?

Proponents of alternative medicine claim that serrapeptase can help treat a wide range of medical conditions. Chief among these are:

  • Pain and inflammation following oral surgery
  • Chronic upper respiratory concerns, including bronchitis, sinusitis, laryngitis, and pharyngitis (sore throat)

Claims of health benefits of alternative treatments often extend beyond a substance's intended use, encompassing what seems to be an almost encyclopedic range of medical conditions.

With serrapeptase, proponents claim the enzyme can dissolve blood clots, alleviate symptoms of arthritis, prevent atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), and treat diabetes, asthma, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), leg ulcers, and fibrotic breast disease.

To date, there is no evidence that it can treat any of these conditions.

That is not to say there is no benefit to serrapeptase use. However, studies that make up the current body of research are often poorly designed or too small to be statistically relevant.

Here are a few that provide some of the more compelling pieces of evidence in support of serrapeptase use.

Oral Surgery

A small study published in the International Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery suggests that serrapeptase may help alleviate pain and swelling resulting from dental surgery.

The study involved 24 healthy people, all of whom underwent the surgical removal of impacted molars. Half were given 1,000 milligrams (mg) of Tylenol (acetaminophen) plus 5 mg of serrapeptase three times a day for seven days, while the other group received the same amount of Tylenol with a placebo.

According to the researchers, in the seven days following surgery, the serrapeptase group had less cheek swelling (as measured by calipers) and pain intensity (as measured by numeric scale) than those given the placebo.

Despite the promising results, the conclusions were limited by the size of the study and the subjective nature of pain measurements.

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Upper Respiratory Symptoms

Serrapeptase has long been touted for its ability to alleviate throat pain, hoarseness, and sinus congestion associated with upper respiratory infections and illnesses.

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According to a 2017 review published in the Asian Journal of Pharmacological Science, serrapeptase exerts effects similar to cyclooxygenase-1 (COX-1) and cyclooxygenase-1 (COX-2) inhibitor drugs like Aleve (naproxen) and Celebrex (celecoxib).

In addition to alleviating inflammation, serrapeptase also appears to break down exudates (fluids that seep out of tissue as a result of inflammation).

By exerting anti-inflammatory, anti-exudate, and analgesic (pain-relieving) properties, serrapeptase could very well alleviate common upper respiratory tract symptoms. However, to date, there is little qualitative evidence of such benefits.

Of the available research, a 2003 study in the journal Respiralogy reported that four weeks of serrapeptase given at a dose of 30 mg daily reduced the amount and thickness of mucus coughed up by people with chronic bronchitis.

Despite flaws in the study design, the findings were significant enough to suggest that serrapeptase may play an important role in mucus clearance in people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and other respiratory diseases.

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Possible Side Effects

While serrapeptase has been used for up to four weeks in clinical research, little is known about its long-term safety. Common side effects tend to be mild but may include:

  • Nausea
  • Stomach pain
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Cough
  • Rash
  • Hypersensitivity (allergic) reactions
  • Pneumonitis
  • Increase in abscess size

Although it is said to alleviate upper respiratory symptoms, serrapeptase has been known to cause pneumonitis (lung inflammation) in some. The condition appears triggered by a sudden drop in white blood cells called eosinophils and occurs mostly in elderly adults.

A 2016 report in the Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research also suggests that serrapeptase may increase the size of an abscess, in part by breaking down exudates in surrounding tissues.

Serrapeptase should not be used if you have an abscess of any sort, including an abscessed tooth. Doing so may facilitate the further spread of infection.

The safety of serrapeptase inpregnant women, nursing mothers, and children has not been established. Given the potential harms and uncertain benefits, it may be best that these groups avoid serrapeptase.

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Interactions

Serrapeptase may interfere with blood clotting and should be avoided if you are taking blood thinners like Coumadin (warfarin) or Plavix (clopidogrel). Taking them together may cause easy bruising or bleeding.

For this same reason, you should stop using serrapeptase two weeks before a scheduled surgery to avoid excessive bleeding.

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Dosage and Preparation

There are no guidelines for the appropriate use of serrapeptase. Doses of up to 60 mg daily have been used safely in short-term studies.

Serrapeptase supplements are readily sourced online and in certain health food and nutritional supplement stores. Most are sold as capsules, gelcaps, or enteric-coated tablets with doses ranging from 34 mg (20,000 international units, or IU) to 500 mg (300,000 IU). However, a dose of 60,000 IU to 120,000 IU (about 100-200 mg) has been used in studies.

As a general rule, it is best to avoid high-dose formulations. Not only are they more costly, but there is no evidence that higher doses are any more effective than lower doses.

Always use the smallest dose possible and never exceed the recommended dose on the product label. If side effects persist or worsen, stop taking serrapeptase and advise your healthcare provider.

To avoid stomach upset, take this supplement with food or choose an enteric-coated tablet, which dissolves lower down in the intestinal tract. This can also help slow the breakdown and deactivation of serrapeptase by stomach acids.

What to Look For

Dietary supplements are not strictly regulated in the United States. To ensure the highest quality, opt for brands that have been tested by an independent certifying body like U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP), NSF International, or ConsumerLab.

If you are strictly vegetarian or vegan, double-check that gelcaps are made of a vegetable-based gelatins rather than animal-derived bovine or porcine gelatin.

Serrapeptase can be stored safely at room temperature. You should discard any supplement that has expired or shows signs of spoilage or deterioration (including changes in color, texture, or smell).

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is serrapeptase?

    Serrapeptase (also known as serratiopeptidase and serralysin) is an enzyme that was discovered in the intestines of the Bombyx mori silkworm back in the 1960s. Alternative practitioners contend that it has medical properties and can be used to treat pain and inflammation.

    Learn More:Natural Ways to Fight Inflammation

    (Video) Serrapeptase: Reduce Inflammation for Faster Recovery | Health Hacks- Thomas DeLauer

  • What is serrapeptase used for?

    Serrapeptase was originally marketed under the brand name Danzan in the 1960s and is claimed by some to prevent or treat a wide range of health conditions, including:

    • Alzheimer's disease
    • Atherosclerosis
    • Blood clots
    • Carpal tunnel syndrome
    • Chronic bronchitis
    • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
    • Endometriosis
    • Postoperative pain

    Learn More:How to Treat Postoperative Pain

  • How much serrapeptase should I take?

    There are no guidelines for the appropriate use of serrapeptase in any form. Doses of up to 60 milligrams (mg) daily have been used safely in short-term studies.

  • Serrapeptase appears well tolerated, although little is known about its long-term safety. Side effects may include:

    • Nausea
    • Stomach upset
    • Muscle aches
    • Joint pain
    • Cough
    • Rash (uncommon)
    (Video) What is Serrapeptase?
  • Who should not take serrapeptase?

    Serrapeptase should be avoided in people with an abscessed tooth as there is evidence it can promote the spread of infection to deeper tissues. Children and people who are pregnant or breastfeeding should also avoid serrapeptase due to the lack of safety research.

  • Are there drug interactions with serrapeptase?

    Because serrapeptase can inhibit blood clotting, it should be avoided in people who take anticoagulants like Coumadin (warfarin) and Plavix (clopidogrel), as the combination may increase the risk of bruising and bleeding.

    Learn More:Warfarin and Herbal Drug Interactions

  • Is there any evidence serrapeptase works?

    A 2013 review in the International Journal of Surgery involving 24 different studies concluded that "the existing scientific evidence for serrapeptase is insufficient to support its use as an analgesic and health supplement."

    (Video) Radio Interview: The Miracle Enzyme Is Serrapeptase

FAQs

What does serrapeptase enzyme do? ›

Serrapeptase, also known as serratiopeptidase, is produced naturally within the digestive tract of silkworms. It's a proteolytic enzyme, which means it breaks down nonliving protein tissue into amino acids. Silkworms use this enzyme to break down their cocoons at birth.

How does serrapeptase make you feel? ›

Serrapeptase can cause pneumonitis (lung inflammation) in elderly adults. This happens due to a sudden drop in white blood cells. Some common side effects after taking Serrapeptase are nausea, stomach upset, vomiting, cough, poor appetite, blood clotting disturbances, muscle & joint pain, skin reactions and rashes.

How many mg is 40000 SPU? ›

A: 40,000 SPU = 20mg (Since Serrapeptase comes at different strengths, just remember this formula to help you do the math: 10mg = 20,000 SPU). Helpful?

Can you take serrapeptase everyday? ›

For best results, serrapeptase should be taken on an empty stomach. In regards to speeding up the recovery from surgeries, the general protocol has been to start serrapeptase the day before the surgery, once in the evening after surgery, and then up to 3 times daily for 5 days following the surgery.

Can you take serrapeptase long term? ›

When taken by mouth: Serrapeptase is POSSIBLY SAFE for adults when taken by mouth for up to 4 weeks. There isn't enough reliable information to know if serrapeptase is safe when taken for longer than 4 weeks.

Is serrapeptase good for lungs? ›

Research shows serrapeptase possesses significant anti-inflammatory, proteolytic (protein dissolving) and fibrinolytic (fibrin dissolving) properties. It reduces scar tissue, improves tissue healing and supports a healthy respiratory system.

What happens if I take serrapeptase with food? ›

Serrapeptase – also known as Serratio Peptidase – is a proteolytic enzyme. In other words, it digests proteins… Including those in the food that you eat! That means that, as a side effect, there's a small chance of stomach upset or nausea if they're taken with meals.

How soon can you eat after taking serrapeptase? ›

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. Serrapeptase must be enteric-coated for it to be absorbed.

What are the health benefits of serrapeptase? ›

Research shows that Serrapeptase eases inflammation and may prevent pain in mechanisms, similar that of aspirin and ibuprofen, without thinning the blood. Additionally, it has been shown to help prevent plaque buildup in the arteries. It has been marketed abroad since 1997, due to the vast amount of research behind it.

Is Serratiopeptidase safe? ›

Stay on the safe side and avoid using it. Bleeding disorders: Serrapeptase may interfere with blood clotting, so some researchers are concerned that it may make bleeding disorders worse. If you have a bleeding disorder, check with your health care provider before taking serrapeptase.

Does serrapeptase give you energy? ›

It can help to clear mucus, fluid, blood clots, debris and immune complexes from your body. In this way it helps to reduce pain, improve mobility and increase energy.

Is serrapeptase good for gout? ›

Serrapeptase is a natural enzyme originally derived from silk worms. It is excellent for reducing pain and swelling in the body and can help to reduce the pain of a gout attack.

How does serrapeptase break down scar tissue? ›

Serrapeptase will reduce any inflammation in the area and break down the scar tissue without affecting healthy tissue. It has the added benefit of improving wound healing in general by clearing old or damaged tissue, including blood clots, mucous, cysts, arterial plaque, and fibrosis.

What is the difference between SPU and IU? ›

Both SU and SPU stand for serrapeptase units while IU stands for international units. They tell you how many active units of the systemic enzyme is present in each serving. A specific test is used to determine the enzyme's unit measurement and therefore the enzyme's potency.

Is Serratiopeptidase a steroid? ›

SERRATIOPEPTIDASE belongs to the class of drugs known as 'non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug' (NSAID) used to provide pain relief in various conditions, including post-traumatic pain, low back pain, cervical pain, spondylitis (inflammation in spinal bones), osteoarthritis (lifelong joint pain and stiffness), ...

Is Serratiopeptidase a muscle relaxant? ›

Serratiopeptidase is an enzyme which works by breaking down abnormal proteins at the site of inflammation, and promotes healing. Tizanidine is a muscle relaxant. It works on the centres in the brain and spinal cord to relieve muscle stiffness or spasm and to improve pain and movement of muscles.

Is serrapeptase good for sinus infections? ›

Early research suggests that people with sinusitis who take serrapeptase have significantly reduced pain, nasal secretions, and nasal obstruction after 3-4 days of treatment.

Does serrapeptase get rid of scar tissue? ›

Clinical studies have shown that it is effective in reducing swelling and edema and metabolizing scar tissues in the body [3], [4] and particularly useful for post-traumatic swelling, fibrocystic breast disease and bronchitis [5], [6], [7], [8]. It can digest dead tissue, blood clots, cysts, and arterial plaques [9].

Can serrapeptase cause pneumonia? ›

Serrapeptase may also cause granulomatous hepatitis (only 1 case reported so far), acute eosinophilic pneumonia (Dohmen et al., 1998;Sasaki et al., 2000). ... ... There may also be certain gastric related issues like nausea, anorexia, stomach upset, cough, pneumonitis (Sasaki et al., 2000).

Do systemic enzymes really work? ›

Systemic enzymes offer various health benefits and may be used as health supplements for specific issues; however, they also serve as excellent prophylactic supplements for general body support. The health benefits (cardiovascular, circulatory and joint health) of systemic enzymes have created a growing niche market.

Does serrapeptase dissolve scar tissue? ›

Research shows serrapeptase possesses significant anti-inflammatory, proteolytic (protein dissolving) and fibrinolytic (fibrin dissolving) properties. It reduces scar tissue, improves tissue healing and supports a healthy respiratory system.

Should serrapeptase be taken on an empty stomach? ›

Serrapeptase enzymatic activity is measured in units of 10 mg equal to 20,000 units of enzyme activity. You should take it on an empty stomach or at least two hours before you eat. In addition, after taking serrapeptase, you should avoid eating for about half an hour.

Does serrapeptase help with weight loss? ›

Serrapeptase has recently been promoted for weight loss. However, no studies — test tube or human — have examined whether serrapeptase affects fat loss. However, it has been suggested that serrapeptase may indirectly promote weight loss in people with overweight or obesity by potentially reducing inflammation.

Does serrapeptase cause detox? ›

If, however, too great a quantity of the enzymes are taken too quickly, serrapeptase can cause the body to detoxify. For this reason, it's recommended that you drink plenty of water when taking it, allowing the body to flush out any accumulations of toxins.

Does serrapeptase help skin? ›

Serrapeptase has been shown to support wound healing and wound cleaning. (5) This enzyme is also shown to repair burns and trauma to the skin. It's useful for promoting recovery from infections and injuries because it's been shown to: decrease swelling.

How does the body get rid of fibrin? ›

Look for enzyme supplements containing nattokinase and serrapeptase, two powerful enzymes that have been directly studied for their fibrinolytic properties. This powerful enzyme directly dissolves fibrin and may also improve the ability of your body to produce its own fibrinolytic enzymes.

Does serrapeptase break down fibrin? ›

Fibrinolytic: Serratiopeptidase is known to dissolve blood clots and artherosclerotic plaques by breaking down fibrin and other dead or damaged tissue [2].

Does serrapeptase give you energy? ›

It can help to clear mucus, fluid, blood clots, debris and immune complexes from your body. In this way it helps to reduce pain, improve mobility and increase energy.

Is Serratiopeptidase a steroid? ›

SERRATIOPEPTIDASE belongs to the class of drugs known as 'non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug' (NSAID) used to provide pain relief in various conditions, including post-traumatic pain, low back pain, cervical pain, spondylitis (inflammation in spinal bones), osteoarthritis (lifelong joint pain and stiffness), ...

Is Serratiopeptidase a muscle relaxant? ›

Serratiopeptidase is an enzyme which works by breaking down abnormal proteins at the site of inflammation, and promotes healing. Tizanidine is a muscle relaxant. It works on the centres in the brain and spinal cord to relieve muscle stiffness or spasm and to improve pain and movement of muscles.

Is serrapeptase good for arthritis? ›

Serrapeptase is used for painful conditions including back pain, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, fibromyalgia, carpel tunnel syndrome, migraine headache, and tension headache.

Is serrapeptase good for sinus infections? ›

Serrapeptase is able to breakdown dead tissue without harming living tissue. Serrapeptase also acts as a mucolytic enzyme, meaning it breaks down or thins out mucous. This is especially effective for chronic sinusitis, an inflammation or swelling of the tissue lining the sinuses.

Is serrapeptase good for gout? ›

Serrapeptase is a natural enzyme originally derived from silk worms. It is excellent for reducing pain and swelling in the body and can help to reduce the pain of a gout attack.

Is serrapeptase an Nsaid? ›

If you have chronic inflammation or pain, Serrapeptase acts as an anti-inflammatory. It does not have the side effects associated with NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as salicylate and ibuprofen).

What does dissolve it all do? ›

Breaks down necrotic debris in the blood* Breaks down excessive fibrin and fibrinogen* Supports respiratory, cardiovascular, circulatory, and sinus health* Decreases wrinkles and scar tissue*

Can you use serrapeptase topically? ›

Being sensitive to gastric degradation, serratiopeptidase is conventionally given orally in the form of enteric coated tablet formulations. Topical formulations of serratiopeptidase would be useful to treat local inflammations and may prove to be more effective compared to non steroidal antiinflammatory agents.

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