High-quality supplements are generally derived from natural sources like plants or animals, such as krill. But did you know that supplements can come from insects as well? It might seem highly uncommon, but experts have found that silkworms produce a substance in their stomachs that may potentially benefit your health: serrapeptase.
What Is Serrapeptase?
Serrapeptase (also known as serratiopeptidase) is a substance produced in the gut of newborn Bombyx mori silkworms, allowing them to dissolve and escape from their cocoons.
According to published research, serrapeptase is classified as a proteolytic enzyme, which means that it can break down proteins into their basic building blocks, which are amino acids.1 After serrapeptase was first isolated by scientists, numerous studies have been conducted regarding its therapeutic uses for humans.2
Published Studies Examining the Potential Benefits of Serrapeptase
Serrapeptase is commonly known as an anti-inflammatory supplement, with data supporting these claims up to more than three decades ago. In an old study published in 1984 by Pharmatherapeutica, 174 patients who underwent Caldwell-Luc antrostomy for chronic empyema were selected to be given serrapeptase supplementation.3
Chronic empyema is a disease affecting the maxillary sinus inside the skull, causing pain, nasal discharge and obstruction.4 Eighty-eight patients were given 10 milligrams three times on the day before operation, once on the night and three times again daily for five days after, while the remaining 86 received a placebo.
Researchers took note of changes in buccal (cheek) swelling and found that the group who took serrapeptase had significantly less swelling compared to those who took the placebo.5 Aside from managing inflammation, serrapeptase has been studied in the following areas:6
Chronic Airway Disease
Taking serrapeptase supplements has been observed to have a positive effect in patients with chronic airway disease.
In a study published in Respirology, participants who took serrapeptase for four weeks were observed to have decreased sputum weight in the morning, viscosity and elasticity of sputum, frequency of coughing and other factors.7
Evidence indicates that serrapeptase may dissolve dead or damaged tissue without harming healthy tissue, as well as breaking down fibrin, an insoluble protein that is a major component to blood clots.8
In addition, experts suggest that serrapeptase may aid in reducing atherosclerotic plaques. However, more studies are needed to test the efficacy of serrapeptase in these areas.9
Serrapeptase has been observed to decrease acetylcholinesterase activity in rats, transforming growth factor and interleukin-6, which are found to be in high levels among those affected with Alzheimer’s disease.
The study concludes that oral administration of serrapeptase may play a role in modulating certain factors characterizing Alzheimer’s disease.10
Breast engorgement is a condition wherein a mother’s breasts are full of milk, making them firm and swollen,11 and a group of researchers tested if serrapeptase may be able to help with this problem.
In a 1989 study published in the Singapore Medical Journal, scientists gathered 70 mothers affected with breast engorgement.
Thirty-five patients who received serrapeptase reported improvement in pain, swelling and induration compared to the remaining 35 who received placebos.12
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
In one study, 10 milligrams of serrapeptase were administered twice a day for a total of six weeks to people affected with carpal tunnel syndrome.
Results indicate that 65 percent of cases showed significant clinical improvement, including electrophysiological barriers.
However, recurrence was reported in four cases. More experiments will need to be conducted to further establish the benefits of serrapeptase in this area of study.13
Who Should Use Serrapeptase Supplements?
Due to serrapeptase’s anti-inflammatory properties, it has developed a reputation for helping ease painful conditions such as arthritis, trauma, surgery and carpal tunnel syndrome.14 However, there’s little evidence regarding its safety for pregnant and breastfeeding women. Therefore, women who are currently carrying a child or breastfeeding should stay on the safe side and avoid it.15
Dosage Recommendations of Serrapeptase
Serrapeptase has been shown to work in different doses depending on the studies that were performed. For example, one study indicates that 5 milligrams of serrapeptase were enough to help reduce pain and swelling in the cheek in people who underwent surgery for molar extraction.16 In a study that examined the effectiveness of serrapeptase for treating carpal tunnel syndrome, 20 milligrams per day were used to generate results.17
In light of this information, there’s currently no “perfect” dosage for serrapeptase because it depends entirely on the condition being treated. Since there are no recommended dosages, it is important to visit a doctor before you purchase any serrapeptase supplement. Your physician will be able to determine the right dosage for you, or if your body will benefit from taking this supplement.
Reported Side Effects of Serrapeptase
Serrapeptase may possibly help with various conditions, but taking it may introduce side effects as well, most notably Stevens-Johnson syndrome, a rare but notable condition marked by blisters throughout the body.18 Other possible side effects include:19
Blood clot abnormalities
Bulls eye-shaped lesions on the skin
If any of the aforementioned side effects appear, stop taking serrapeptase immediately and call your doctor.
Serrapeptase May Help With Inflammation, but Don’t Solely Rely on It
Based on published data, those who suffer from inflammatory conditions may take advantage of serrapeptase supplements to augment their health. However, I recommend that you do your research thoroughly before trying these products. Consult your doctor regarding your intention of adding serrapeptase to your daily routine, and look for other natural alternatives that may help promote your health as well.
Frequently Asked Questions About Serrapeptase
Q: Where can you buy serrapeptase?
A: Serrapeptase supplements can be conveniently purchased online. However, you should focus on the quality of the product and do your research thoroughly before buying any type of supplement.
Q: What is serrapeptase used for?
A: Evidence suggests that serrapeptase may help with conditions such as atherosclerosis, infections, carpal tunnel syndrome and inflammation.20
Q: Can serrapeptase help with weight loss?
A: There’s currently little evidence that suggests serrapeptase may help with weight management. However, it may be beneficial in other areas.
Q: How much serrapeptase should you take?
A: The dosage depends on what you want to use it for. Consult a doctor first for safety reasons.