Nattokinase is a natural blood thinner that could help lower the risks for many chronic diseases. In attempts to prevent and treat heart disease, we have become familiar with many risk factors like cholesterol, smoking and obesity. Even aspirin is recommended to help keep the blood from getting too sticky. Research is now showing that the “stickiness” of the blood is actually a separate, but very important, risk factor for problems like heart disease and stroke. Nattokinase seems to be a great tool for treating these conditions and much more.

Nattokinase comes from the product natto, made from the fermentation process of soybeans. It is not found in other soy foods. Natto has been part of Japanese cuisine for many years. Nattokinase is now known to be a significant blood thinner. It works on a part of the blood clotting system called fibrinogen, a natural part of the coagulation system that helps the body make clots. Everyone needs some fibrinogen to prevent massive bleeding problems, but it can increase with age making the blood “stickier”. Blood that is too sticky is prone to clotting. This increased stickiness is thought to raise the chances of stroke and heart attack [Source: Rana, Green]. It may also be involved in other chronic conditions like diabetes, hypertension and varicose veins.

Improvements in fibrinogen can improve blood flow, which may help improve many of these conditions [Source: Stucker]. Research is now starting to look at the role nattokinase can have in helping to keep the blood thin. One study has shown that it could play a role in high blood pressure. Hypertension can also be related to elevated fibrinogen levels [Source: Rizzo]. Nattokinase has shown the ability to lower blood pressure [Source: Kim]. Clinically, patients are finding nattokinase helpful for many problems including dysmenorrhea (pain with menstrual cycles), migraine headaches and varicose veins. This supplement can show tremendous versatility because the blood will become overly thick in many conditions.

Unlike some supplements that have a nearly universal safety range, nattokinase does come with specific precautions. Since Nattokinase has the ability to thin the blood, it should not be started by those currently taking blood thinners without a doctor’s supervision. Nattokinase should also not be taken by those who bleed very easily. It should be avoided by those who have recently had a bleeding ulcer, surgery, stroke or heart attack. Patients should not take nattokinase at least two weeks prior to having surgery. Adding a blood thinner to those situations could cause the body to bleed more easily.

Nattokinase should be taken on an empty stomach. It is dosed in either milligrams or fibrinolytic units (FU). Doses typically start at 2,000 FU taken 2 -3 times a day. Doses can be increased up to 6-9 capsules a day, but higher doses should be monitored by physicians. Dosing can be monitored by checking fibrinogen levels to make sure that they are not too low or too high.

Nattokinase opens a whole new area of treatment for chronic diseases, centering on hypercoaguability, or the increased stickiness of the blood. This type of problem is linked with many chronic illnesses including the major cause of death, heart disease. Nattokinase has lead to more interest and more study in this area. While this is a fairly safe option, it does come with some precautions and should be used carefully.