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Help for Soreness and Swelling: What Do Silkworms Have to Do With It?

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Dubbed the “Miracle Enzyme” because of the wide range of health benefits it supports, serrapeptase has been recommended by doctors in Europe and Asia for more than 30 years. Studies indicate this unique supplemental enzyme promotes balanced inflammatory response, encourages healthy mucus & sinus function, and may be beneficial for cardiovascular health.

Serrapeptase is a proteolytic enzyme, which means that it chews up or digests proteins, breaking them down into peptides and amino acids.

Historically it has been considered helpful for easing symptoms in a variety of different conditions, including:

Carpal tunnel syndrome
Sprains and torn ligaments
Fibrocystic breast disease
Migraines (vascular)
Inflammatory Bowel Diseases
Chronic sinusitis
Ear, nose and throat infections
Ovarian cysts
Varicose veins
Post-op soreness & swelling
Artherosclerotic plaque
Chronic pain

Serrapeptase – The 2nd Gift of the Silkworm

Serrapeptase was originally discovered in the digestive tract of the silkworm. While the silkworm is still in its worm form, the serrapeptase enzyme helps it digest the tough mulberry leaves on which it lives. Then, at about one month of age, the silkworm spins a cocoon made of silk around itself. Three weeks later, when it is ready to emerge from its cocoon as a moth, the silkworm regurgitates the serrapeptase and uses it to dissolve a hole in the cocoon wall through which it exits.

The ability to chew through the silk cocoon demonstrates what a powerful enzyme serrapeptase is – especially when you consider that, thread for thread, silk is stronger than steel.

In the same way that it chews through the silkworm’s cocoon, serrapeptase is able to chew up and dissolve other non-living tissue – such as blood clots, cysts, arterial plaque, mucus, and the dead and damaged tissue debris that can promote inflammation.

All without harming the surrounding healthy tissue.

Although the silken thread spun by the silkworm has long been treasured throughout the world and used to make beautiful, luxurious fabrics, it is the serrapeptase the silkworm produces that may turn out to be its greatest gift to mankind.

Serrapeptase and Common Causes of Inflammation

Our bodies carry on something of a love-hate relationship with inflammation. On the love side, inflammation is a natural immune response designed to protect our body from invading organisms. On the hate side, excessive inflammation can damage tissues, destroy bone and cause a great deal of pain.

Millions of people take NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) like aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen and Celebrex every day to reduce excessive inflammation and relieve pain. While NSAIDs can be very effective in reducing inflammation, they also have some pretty serious side effects like gastrointestinal bleeding, hemorrhagic stroke, kidney and liver damage.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there were a natural supplement that would help the body deal with factors known to promote excessive inflammation, without the side effects of a drug that treats the result?

There is, in fact, a supplement showing great promise to be just that – serrapeptase.

Serrapeptase (now derived from cultures, not silkworms) helps the body dissolve the dead and damaged tissues that play a role in inflammation. In many European countries serrapeptase is a common recommendation for addressing these causes of inflammation-related swelling and soreness.

Serrapeptase and Painful Swelling

Swelling is one of the symptoms of an inflammatory response. The following studies demonstrate serrapeptase’s ability to support reduced swelling and soreness in three different circumstances:

Post-Surgical Facial Swelling:  A double-blind, placebo-controlled trial studied 174 patients who were undergoing a surgical procedure to drain their sinuses. Eighty-eight of the patients received serrapeptase from the day before until 5 days after their operations; the other 86 received a placebo.

The degree of post-surgical swelling in the serrapeptase-treated patients was significantly less than that in the placebo-treated patients. No side-effects were reported.(1)

Fibrocystic Breast Disease:  A double-blind study of 70 women with breast engorgement found a greater reduction of breast soreness and swelling in the group who received serrapeptase than in the group who received the placebo. No adverse reactions were reported.(2)

Postoperative Ankle Swelling:  A German study measured postoperative swelling and soreness in 66 patients with a fresh rupture of the lateral ligament of the upper ankle. One group was given serrapeptase, while the other two control groups were given standard treatment (elevation of the leg, bed rest, with and without the application of ice).

By the third postoperative day, the swelling in the serrapeptase group had reduced by 50%, with a correlating reduction in soreness. There was no decrease in swelling in the two control groups.

The researchers concluded, “…serrapeptase would appear to be an effective preparation for the postoperative reduction of swelling, in comparison with the classical conservative measures…”(3)

Respiratory Benefits of Serrapeptase

In addition to its ability to dissolve the non-living tissue that promotes inflammation, serrapeptase has also been shown to thin mucus – making it a triple threat to respiratory disorders like sinusitis, emphysema, asthma and bronchitis.

Following are three studies that demonstrate how serrapeptase’s mucus-thinning properties may help improve respiratory distress:

Chronic Sinusitis:  Scientists in Japan evaluated the effects of serrapeptase on the viscosity (resistance of a fluid to flow) and elasticity of nasal mucus in adult patients with chronic sinusitis. After four weeks of treatment with serrapeptase, the viscosity of the mucus was significantly lower but the elasticity was not affected.(4)

Ear, Nose and Throat Issues: The efficacy and tolerability of serrapeptase were evaluated in a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of 193 patients suffering from acute or chronic ear, nose or throat disorders. After just 3-4 days of treatment, significant symptom regression was observed in the serrapeptase-treated patients.

The researchers concluded that serrapeptase “has anti-inflammatory, anti-oedemic [anti-swelling] and anti-fibrinolytic [anti-clotting] activity and acts rapidly on localized inflammation.”(5)

Chronic Airway Diseases:  In one controlled and randomized open-label study, researchers observed the effects of serrapeptase on the sputum of 29 individuals with chronic airway diseases. After four weeks:

• Those taking serrapeptase had significantly less morning sputum,

• And it was thinner and less elastic in nature compared to those taking a placebo.

• Frequency of coughing and expectoration decreased significantly in the serrapeptase group.

• They also had fewer neutrophils in their sputum, signifying a more balanced immune response.(6)

Serrapeptase and the Cardiovascular System

The late Dr. Hans Nieper, a legendary German physician known for his extensive use of proteolytic enzymes, reported using serrapeptase experimentally to address arterial blockage in his coronary patients.(7)

Although there are a number of anecdotal reports of patients whose bypass surgeries were canceled after taking serrapeptase because their arteries were no longer blocked, there are as yet no high-quality studies that evaluate the use of serrapeptase to support reduced arterial blockage.

Need-to-Know Information

Many supplements must build up in your system for a few weeks to reach optimum effectiveness – but you may begin to experience the benefits that serrapeptase supports in as little as a day or two.

Dosage:  There is no standard recommended dose for serrapeptase. The dosages used in research generally tend to range from 20,000 to 60,000 units (units are a measure of enzyme activity level). However, proteolytic enzyme experts often recommended up to 240,000 units.

Doctor’s Best High Potency Serrapeptase contains 120,000 units per enteric coated capsule. One capsule per day should be sufficient for most purposes.

When to Take:  It is important that serrapeptase be taken on an empty stomach so it is not destroyed by digestive enzymes. Serrapeptase should be taken at least two hours after eating, and no food should be consumed for at least a half hour after taking it.

Contraindications:  As with any nutritional supplementation program, it is best to consult your physician before beginning consistent enzyme supplementation. Enzymes such as serrapeptase are safe for most people when used according to the dosage recommended on the bottle. People prone to forming blood clots, such as those with arterial fibrillation or with chronic venous insufficiency, should consult their physician before using serrapeptase. People with other bleeding disorders, ulcers, those who’ve had neurosurgery or ischemic stroke, or those taking blood thinning medications should also consult their physician before taking any enzyme supplements.


Serrapeptase is a proteolytic enzyme that promotes a normal, balanced inflammatory and immune response, supports healthy mucus and sinus function, and may also be beneficial for cardiovascular health.

* Supplement research reporter Karen Lee Richards is Lead Expert specializing in Fibromyalgia and ME/CFS for HealthCentral’s chronic pain site (www.healthcentral/chronic-pain.com)


1.  Tachibana M, et al. “A multi-centre, double-blind study of serrapeptase versus placebo in post-antrotomy buccal swelling.” Pharmatherapeutica. 1984;3(8):526-30.

2.  Kee WH, et al. “The treatment of breast engorgement with Serrapeptase (Danzen): a randomised double-blind controlled trial.” Singapore Med J. 1989 Feb;30(1):48-54.

3.  Esch PM, et al. [“Reduction of postoperative swelling. Objective measurement of swelling of the upper ankle joint in treatment with serrapeptase – a prospective study.”] Fortschr Med. 1989 Feb 10;107(4):67-8, 71-2.

4.  Majima Y, et al. The effect of an orally administered proteolytic enzyme on the elasticity and viscosity of nasal mucus. Arch Otorhinolaryngol. 1988;244(6):355-9.

5.  Mazzone A, et al. “Evaluation of Serratia peptidase in acute or chronic inflammation of otorhinolaryngology pathology: a multicentre, double-blind, randomized trial versus placebo.” J Int Med Res. 1990 Sep-Oct;18(5):379-88.

6.  Nakamura, S., et al., “Effect of the proteolytic enzyme serrapeptase in patients with chronic airway disease.” Respirology, 2003. 8(3): p. 316-20.

7. Nieper HA. “Silk Worm Enzymes for Carotid Artery Blockage.” Transcripts of Dr. Nieper’s seminars and writings on his experimental work employing serrapeptase supplementation to promote cardiovascular health are available from the Nieper Foundation archive at Brewer Science Library in Wisconsin (www.mwt.net/~drbrewer/cardio.htm).

Note: This information has not been evaluated by the FDA. It is general information, is not intended to prevent, diagnose, treat or cure any illness, condition or disease, and should not take the place of a physician’s personal attention. It is very important that you make no change in your healthcare plan or health support regimen without researching and discussing it in collaboration with your professional healthcare team.

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