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Enzymes: serrapeptase

Enzymes are biological molecules produced in our body, which accelerate biochemical reactions. Without enzymes processes inside us would be slow and we could not survive. Enzymes are involved in various biological processes, such as digestion, where they break down carbohydrates, fats and protein into smaller particles that can be absorbed into the intestine; enzymes also play a role in muscle, immunity, detoxication processes, and many other functions (Gurung et al., 2013). Enzymes can be extracted from external sources, including plants, animals, bacteria, and such enzyme is serrapeptase.

Fun fact: biological terms ending with -ase, show that the substance is an enzyme.

 

What is serrapeptase?

Serrapeptase or serratiopeptidase is a proteolytic enzyme, this means that it breaks down other proteins. Protein degradation is not always a bad thing as serrapeptaze only works on dead, damaged tissues; in this way, inflammation and pain associated with it are reduced (Tiwari, 2017).

This enzyme is found in the intestine of the Silkworm and is released in the cocoon to make a hole so the worm can emerge as an adult moth (Jadhav et al., 2020). In the Silkworms’ intestine serrapeptase is produced by the bacteria Serratia marcescens, so now the enzyme is extracted directly in laboratories from the bacteria fermentation.

Serrapeptase was first utilized by the Japanese in 1957; since then, it gained popularity in Japan and Europe as an anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving remedy.

How does serrapeptase work?

Inflammatory effect. Inflammation is a protective mechanism that activates after injury, infection. To unpredictable reactions our body responds quickly by activating immune cells and inflammatory mediators, these are sent to the site of inflammation. Inflammation can be acute or chronic depending on the pathological condition of the tissue and the intensity of the trigger. Usually, to reduce inflammation steroidal or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are prescribed; however, long-term use of these drugs can cause adverse effects (Abdulkhaleq et al., 2018). Therefore, other remedies like enzymes are being used as therapeutical agents.

As an enzyme serrapeptase can bind to substrates and either degrade them or make new, complex compounds. One of the compounds with which serrapeptase binds, are COX-I and COX-II enzymes which are responsible for the production of inflammatory mediators. By binding to COX enzymes serrapeptase promotes their degradation, consequently reducing the number of inflammatory mediators. Meanwhile, NSAIDs block the production of inflammatory mediators via inhibition of COX-I, so we do not feel pain. At the same, time drugs provide symptomatic relief rather than cure the cause of the inflammation. Additionally, serrapeptase promotes the movement of immune cells at the site of inflammation; this, in turn, stimulates healing (Tiwari, 2017).

Analgetic effect. Unlike NSAIDs, serrapeptase does not interfere with the normal healing process, but the consumption of this enzyme is correlated with the relief of pain. This effect is achieved by the serrapeptase ability to degrade pain-causing molecules, for example, bradykinin, at the site of inflammation (Jadhav et al., 2020).

Promotes fibrinolysis. Fibrin is a protein involved in blood clotting, which together with blood cells forms a clot over a wound site. Excess fibrin can be harmful as it can block vessels and lead to the formation of thrombus. Depending on the type and place of a vessel, thrombosis can be the cause of the development of cardiovascular disease. Thus, it is important to maintain healthy levels of fibrin.

Due to fibrinolytic properties, serrapeptase can break down excess fibrin leaving tissues around intact, dissolving thrombus and atherosclerotic platelets. By the way, the ending -ysis means the decomposition process (Jadhav et al., 2020).

Can serrapeptase cause side effects?

Generally, serrapeptase is considered safe to consume. However, some studies reported allergenic skin reactions, cough, disturbance in the gastrointestinal tract, such as stomachache, nausea. These side effects might be due to the dosage or possible serrapetase interaction with other drugs. High quality, comprehensive trials should confirm possible side effects associated with the usage of serrapeptase (Bhagat et al., 2013).

Absorption and dosage

Although only a few trials investigated the absorption of serrapeptase in the humans’ body, in vivo studies revealed that serrapeptase is absorbed in the intestine and travels to the site of inflammation through blood or lymph. In the blood it binds with a protein called alpha-1 microglobulin; this adhesion protects serrapeptase from internal degradation and it can reach the exact inflammation site.

In clinical trials dosage ranged from 10 to 60 milligrams a day; enzymatic activity is measured by units, 1 milligram of serrapeptase is equal to 2000 units. Serrapeptase must be taken on an empty stomach, thus, you can consume it half an hour before mealtime (Bhagat et al., 2013).

 

Bottom line

Serrapeptase is a quite recently discovered enzyme that has been used due to anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving effects. Although the exact mechanism of serrapeptase and possible side effects are still investigated, it is a promising medicament which not only relieves symptoms but also deals with the cause of the disease itself.

References

  1. Abdulkhaleq, L.A., Assi, M.A., Abdullah, R., Zamri-Saad, M., Taufiq-Yap, Y.H. and Hezmee, M.N.M. 2018. The crucial roles of inflammatory mediators in inflammation: A review. Veterinary World. 11(5), pp.627–635.
  2. Bhagat, S., Agarwal, M. and Roy, V. 2013. Serratiopeptidase: A systematic review of the existing evidence. International Journal of Surgery. 11(3), pp.209–217.
  3. Gurung, N., Ray, S., Bose, S. and Rai, V. 2013. A broader view: Microbial enzymes and their relevance in industries, medicine, and beyond. BioMed Research International. 2013, article no: 329121 [no pagination].
  4. Jadhav, S.B., Shah, N., Rathi, Ankit, Rathi, V. and Rathi, Abhijit 2020. Serratiopeptidase: Insights into the therapeutic applications. Biotechnology Reports. 28, article no: 00544 [no pagination].
  5. Tiwari, M. 2017. The role of serratiopeptidase in the resolution of inflammation. Asian Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences. 12(3), pp.209–215.