Nattokinase is an enzyme (a protein that speeds up biochemical reactions) that is extracted from a popular Japanese food called natto. Natto is boiled soybeans that have been fermented with a bacterium called Bacillus natto. Natto has been used for hundreds of years to treat diseases of the heart and circulatory system. Nattokinase, the chemical in natto that is probably responsible for its effects, was discovered by a University of Chicago researcher, Dr. Hiroyuki Sumi.
You won’t find nattokinase in soy foods other than natto, since nattokinase is produced through the specific fermentation process used to make natto. Nattokinase is used for heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, chest pain (angina), deep vein thrombosis, “hardening of the arteries” (atherosclerosis), hemorrhoids, varicose veins, poor circulation, and peripheral artery disease (PAD). It is also used for pain, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, endometriosis, uterine fibroids, muscle spasms, infertility, cancer, and a vitamin-deficiency disease called beriberi.
How does it work? Nattokinase decreases the ability of blood to clot. This “thins the blood” and might protect against conditions caused by blood clots such as stroke, heart attack, and others.
Click the play button below to listen to an interview with pharmacist John Abdelmalek, Rph, who talks with Ask a Pharmacist host Shalena Putnam about the benefits of nattokinase.