Unlocking the Secret Health Benefits of Serrapeptase: What You Need to Know
Serrapeptase, also sometimes called serratiopeptidase, is a proteolytic enzyme derived from the intestinal bacteria of silkworms.
Serrapeptase was first isolated by scientists in Japan in the 1960s. Soon after, it became a bestselling drug in that country (under the brand name Danzen), later finding its way onto drugstore shelves in Europe and North America as a dietary supplement.
There is limited research on the benefits of serrapeptase, but some complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) practitioners suggest it exerts anti-inflammatory effects that may reduce pain and swelling. Some also use serrapeptase to relieve pain following minor surgery.
Uses of Serrapeptase
Supplement use should be individualized and vetted by a healthcare professional, such as a registered dietitian, pharmacist, or healthcare provider. No supplement is intended to treat, cure, or prevent disease.
Proponents of alternative medicine claim that serrapeptase can help treat a wide range of medical conditions, especially those that involve inflammation. Researchers believe that serrapeptase works by facilitating the drainage of fluid that can build up during inflammation.
However, many health claims surrounding serrapeptase are unsupported by scientific evidence.
That is not to say there is no potential benefit of using serrapeptase, but studies that make up the current body of research are often poorly designed or too small to be statistically relevant.
The following is a look at some of the more compelling pieces of evidence in support of serrapeptase use.
Some dentists recommend their patients use serrapeptase to alleviate swelling and pain after oral surgery. According to one review, serrapeptase is sometimes used for this purpose either alone or along with steroids or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
The same review looked at five studies on serrapeptase for facial pain, swelling, and lockjaw (trismus) often associated with oral surgery. It was concluded that serrapeptase most significantly improved lockjaw, while steroids were found to reduce swelling better. Unfortunately, the review could not conclude the effects of serrapeptase on facial pain.
A small clinical trial compared serrapeptase to a placebo for people who had recently had a molar removed. At the end of the study, serrapeptase was found to significantly improve lockjaw when compared to placebo (a pill with no healing properties). It also improved swelling, but not significantly.
More high-quality research is certainly needed to determine the role of serrapeptase in oral surgery.
Upper Respiratory Symptoms
It is believed that serrapeptase could very well alleviate common upper respiratory tract symptoms, like inflammation and pain. However, to date, there is little qualitative evidence of such benefits.
According to one review, serrapeptase causes effects similar to cyclooxygenase-1 (COX-1) and cyclooxygenase-1 (COX-2) inhibitor drugs like the NSAIDs Aleve (naproxen) and Celebrex (celecoxib). The review points out that serrapeptase dissolves dead and damaged tissues caused by inflammation, commonly seen in respiratory issues like sinusitis and bronchitis.
Interestingly, serrapeptase has recently been recommended as a potential therapy for COVID-19 symptoms. Researchers believe serrapeptase could reduce symptoms through its anti-inflammatory and mucolytic (mucus-reducing) properties. However, these potential benefits have yet to be confirmed.
Other serrapeptase uses have been suggested but poorly researched.
A review of in vitro and in vivo serrapeptase lab studies included research on the following:
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Fibrocystic breast disease
- Ulcerative colitis
- Bacterial infections
Although much can be learned from lab studies, human trials are required to confirm these and other potential uses of serrapeptase.
What Are the Side Effects of Serrapeptase?
Serrapeptase is generally thought to be safe. However, you may experience side effects when taking it. These side effects may be mild or severe.
Common Side Effects
Few studies on serrapeptase have reported side effects or adverse reactions. Generally, common side effects of serrapeptase tend to be mild and may include:1
- Dermatitis (skin irritation)
- Erythema (rash)
- Muscle pain
- Joint pain
- Upset stomach
Typically, side effects will subside once you stop using serrapeptase. You should talk with your healthcare provider if side effects persist.
Severe Side Effects
In rare cases, serrapeptase can cause Stevens-Johnson syndrome, a severe skin reaction characterized by large blisters and even shedding skin. There have also been reports of pneumonitis (lung inflammation) and blood-clotting abnormalities in some people who have used serrapeptase.1
Additionally, one report from 2016 suggested that serrapeptase may increase the size of an abscess, in part by breaking down masses of cells in surrounding tissues. However, this has only been reported in one case study to date.8
To best prevent these and other potential side effects, only use serrapeptase as directed.
Natural Ways to Fight Inflammation
Serrapeptase is considered safe for most people, but some may need to avoid it.
The safety of serrapeptase has not been established in children or people who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Given the potential harms and uncertain benefits of serrapeptase, it may be best that these groups avoid it.
People with blood-clotting disorders may also need to avoid serrapeptase. This is due to serrapeptase’s potential disruption of normal blood clotting.
Before starting serrapeptase, let your healthcare provider know about any existing health issues.
Dosage: How Much Serrapeptase Should I Take?
Always speak with a healthcare provider before taking a supplement to ensure that the supplement and dosage are appropriate for your individual needs.
Due to a lack of research, there are no guidelines for the appropriate use of serrapeptase. However, doses of up to 60 milligrams daily have been used safely in short-term studies.
Many clinical studies have used serrapeptase doses of 10 to 60 milligrams daily. The enzyme activity of serrapeptase is said to be 20,000 units per 10 milligrams. It is recommended that you take serrapeptase on an empty stomach and avoid eating food for at least 30 minutes after taking it.1
As a general rule, never exceed the recommended dose on the product label. Also, consult your healthcare provider regarding the proper dosage for your specific needs.
What Happens If I Take Too Much Serrapeptase?
There are no documented reports of toxicity or overdose regarding serrapeptase. As such, serrapeptase is regarded as a safe supplement for many people.
Regardless, it is vital that you follow dosage and usage guidelines when taking any supplement. Taking too much serrapeptase may increase your chances of various side effects.
Supplements can interact with other supplements, nutrients, or medications. Research suggests that serrapeptase may interfere with certain medications.
Serrapeptase may interact with blood thinners like Jantoven (warfarin) and Plavix (clopidogrel). Taking them together may cause easy bruising or bleeding. Therefore, people taking these and other similar medications should avoid using serrapeptase.
Serrapeptase may also increase the risk of bleeding or bruising when taken with