Natto is a traditional Japanese food, prepared by fermenting boiled soybeans with the bacterium Bacillus subtilis. Nattokinase is an enzyme, which breaks down protein, and is purified from the cheese-like natto. Nattokinase was discovered in 1980 by a researcher who was trying to identify a natural agent that could successfully dissolve clots.
People throughout Asia have consumed soybeans in a variety of traditional foods (including natto) for over 1,000 years. Due to their possible contribution to the observed low rates of heart disease in Asian countries, soy products such as natto have recently attracted attention in the West. As a result, nattokinase is a popular health food supplement.
Nattokinase has been reported to have blood-thinning effects. Recently, research has indicated that nattokinase may have potential in the treatment of vein clots, or deep venous thrombosis (DVT), and high blood pressure, when used in combination with the standard therapies for these conditions.

Related Terms

Fermented soybeans, Flite Tabs, natto, natto extract, nattokinase, NK, NSK II, NSK-SD, subtilisin NAT.

evidence table

These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
High blood pressure (Grade: B)
Nattokinase has traditionally been used as a blood pressure-lowering agent in Asia. Results of clinical studies support this use. Future studies will provide additional valuable information on the use of nattokinase to treat high blood pressure.
Vein clots (deep venous thrombosis) (Grade: C)
Evidence suggests that the combination product Flite Tabs, containing nattokinase and Pycnogenol®, may reduce the frequency of clotting effects and swelling in high-risk individuals on long air flights. Further research on the effect of nattokinase alone is needed before a conclusion can be made.