Systemic Enzymes: Understanding and Avoiding Thrombosis

To understand the benefits of the fibrinolytic activity of nattokinase found in systemic enzyme formulas, first one must understand the basic process of coagulation or clotting of blood.

In damaged tissue, the broken blood vessel releases a compound called thromboplastin. At the same time platelets adhere to the broken edges of the vessel and disintegrate, releasing platelet factor-3. Both of these react with protein factors and calcium ions to form prothrombin activator. Once the prothrombin activator is formed, the process from prothrombin to a clot follows.

Of course, clotting forms an important function in tissue repair. However, a clot in the blood stream (a thrombus) can be very dangerous, even fatal.

Blood clots (thrombi) form when strands of fibrin accumulate in the circulatory system. These clots can cause blockage of blood flow. If blood flow is blocked, the oxygen supply to the tissue is cut off and it eventually dies. In the heart, this can result in myocardial infarction (heart attack). In the brain, it can result in strokes or mini-strokes. Deep vein thrombosis can result in pulmonary emboli. All these events can be life-threatening.

An in vitro study, not only demonstrated the powerful fibrinolytic activity of nattokinase, but also significantly reduced the aggregation of red blood cells and lowered whole blood viscosity. The net results are vascular conditions that are less likely to produce blood clots. The authors suggest that nattokinase possesses very real potential as a therapeutic agent in cardiovascular health.

The process of forming a clot is complex and involves several enzymes. However, the body mainly produces one central enzyme for dissolving a clot, plasmin. It happens that the properties of nattokinase are very similar to plasmin. Nattokinase is particularly effective because it enhances the body’s natural ability to fight blood clots in several different ways. It dissolves fibrin directly and appears to enhance the body’s natural production of both plasmin and other clot-dissolving enzymes like urokinase.

An in vivo study was undertaken to demonstrate the thrombolytic activity of nattokinase, plasmin and elastase on an induced clot in the common carotid artery of laboratory rats. The results indicate the thrombolytic activity of nattokinase is stronger than that of plasmin or elastase in vivo in this model.

While more research is needed, it seems clear that nattokinase offers significant benefits to those who are at risk for deep vein thrombosis, myocardial infarction, pulmonary emboli and stroke.

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