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Serrapeptase: 5 Ways This Silkworm-Derived Enzyme May Benefit Your Health

Fact Checked

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Story at-a-glance -

  • Serrapeptase is known as an anti-inflammatory supplement, with data supporting these claims dating back to the 1980’s
  • Due to serrapeptase’s anti-inflammatory properties, it has earned a reputation for helping ease painful conditions such as arthritis, trauma, surgery and carpal tunnel syndrome

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 called serrapeptase in their stomachs that may potentially benefit your health.

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.1

According to published research, serrapeptase is classified as a proteolytic enzyme, meaning it can facilitate protein metabolism, and amino acid generation and absorption.2 First isolated by scientists in the 1960s, numerous scientific studies have been conducted to show this substance’s effects on the human body.3

Published Studies Examining the Potential Benefits of Serrapeptase

Serrapeptase is known as an anti-inflammatory supplement, with studies supporting these claims conducted more than three decades ago.4 In a 1984 study published by Pharmatherapeutica, 174 patients who underwent Caldwell-Luc antrostomy for chronic empyema were given serrapeptase supplementation.5

Chronic empyema is an inflammation in the visceral and parietal peels in the lungs, impeding proper re-expansion during breathing. In severe cases, surgical intervention may be required.6 In the study, 88 patients received 10 milligrams three times on the day before operation, once on the night and three times again daily for five days after. The remaining 86 received a placebo.

Researchers took note of changes in buccal (cheek) swelling and found that the serrapeptase group had significantly less swelling compared to the placebo group.7 Aside from managing inflammation, serrapeptase has been studied in the following areas:

Chronic airway disease — Serrapeptase supplements may 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, lessened viscosity and elasticity of sputum, reduced frequency of coughing and other factors.8

Blood clots — Evidence indicates that serrapeptase may dissolve dead or damaged tissue without harming healthy tissue, as well as break down fibrin, an insoluble protein, which is a major component in blood clots.9 In addition, serrapeptase may aid in reducing atherosclerotic plaque. However, more studies are needed to test the efficacy of serrapeptase in these areas.10

Alzheimer's disease — In a 2013 study from Human and Experimental Toxicology, serrapeptase was observed to decrease acetylcholinesterase activity in rats, transforming growth factor and interleukin-6, which are found to be in high levels among those with Alzheimer's disease. The study concludes that oral administration of serrapeptase may play a role in modulating certain factors that characterize Alzheimer's disease.11

Breast engorgement — Breast engorgement is a condition wherein mothers' breasts are filled with milk, making them firm and swollen.12 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.13

Carpal tunnel syndrome — In a study from The Journal of the Association of Physicians in India, 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.14

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Who Should Use Serrapeptase Supplements?

Due to serrapeptase’s anti-inflammatory properties, it has earned a reputation for helping ease painful conditions such as arthritis, trauma, surgery, bronchitis and carpal tunnel syndrome.15 However, there’s little evidence regarding its safety for pregnant and breastfeeding women. Therefore, to be safe, pregnant or breastfeeding women should avoid it.16

Reported Side Effects of Serrapeptase

Serrapeptase may possibly help with various conditions, but taking it may also introduce side effects, most notably Stevens-Johnson syndrome, a rare but notable condition characterized by the appearance of blisters throughout the body.17 Other possible side effects include:

Erythema or dermatosis18

Muscle ache

Joint pain19

Coagulation problems

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

Those who suffer from inflammatory conditions may take advantage of serrapeptase supplements to augment their health.20 However, I recommend that you do your research thoroughly before trying these products. Consult your doctor regarding your intention to add serrapeptase to your daily routine, and look for other natural alternatives that may help promote your health as well.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Serrapeptase

Q: Where can you buy serrapeptase?

A: Serrapeptase supplements are sold online or in stores. However, it's more important to focus on the quality of the product and do your research thoroughly before buying.

Q: What is serrapeptase used for?

A: Evidence suggests that serrapeptase may help with conditions such as atherosclerosis, infections, carpal tunnel syndrome and inflammation.21

Q: Can serrapeptase help with weight loss?

A: There's currently little evidence that suggests serrapeptase may help with weight management.

Q: How much serrapeptase should you take?

A: Consult a doctor first for to discuss the ideal amount to take.