What is the Big Deal with Serrapeptase?

Almost every site that talks about alternative treatment approaches to Peyronie's, recommend using Serrapeptase.  Many recommend using it alone or in combination with other enzymes and supplements.  If you are going to add this product to your treatment program, then definitely read this article.

One of the big problems with the Serrapeptase approach, is the lack of double blind placebo studies to support it's use.  Let's review some of the information available to us, and make an informed decision on whether it is worth while.

Serrapeptase has been studied for several different conditions with positive results.
Serrapeptase came out very favorably in this study to reduce buccal swelling after surgery.

Sixty five percent cases showed significant clinical improvement with Serrapeptase treatment for carpal tunnel.

 There was a significant reduction in the extent of cheek swelling and pain intensity in the serrapeptase group in molar extraction.

  It is concluded that Serratia peptidase has anti-inflammatory, anti-oedemic and fibrinolytic activity and acts rapidly on localized inflammation.
193 subjects suffering from acute or chronic ear, nose or throat disorders, with treatment lasting 7-8 days.

Regression of fibrinolysis in scalded rats by administration of serrapeptase. Biochem. Pharmacol. 31:2861-2866,1982

In Russia Serrapeptase has been used for treating ailments as diverse as Alzheimer's to Tuberculosis.  The studies on these area's are not readily available, so I could not include them. in this article.  

There are no specific studies using Serrapeptase in Peyronie's treatment, but the above studies, do show that it is effective for treating pain, inflammation, and fibrinolysis.  I have read a lot of testimonials, on its' effectiveness, but those are not verifiable through testing and sometimes, people just get better.  The human body is amazing, with its' healing abilities.

The Serrapeptase Theory: 
If you have read some of the articles at this blog, you will know that I took Serrapeptase and am one of those testimonials and success stories.  I can't reproduce my results though in a scientific study, since I'm just one guy that it seemed to work on.

The idea behind Serrapeptase is this;  The silkworm uses the Serrapeptase enzyme in its' saliva to dissolve the dead silk cocoon, at the time it is hatching out to become a moth.  Serrapeptase is a powerful proteolitic enzyme that scavenges dead tissue and reduces inflammation.  The idea of introducing it into the blood stream to scavenge fibrin (dead scar tissue) in the Peyronie's plaque is sound, it just isn't a proven science at this point.

Enteric Coating
When I took Serrapeptase, there was a lot of information about enteric coating that I was unaware of.   Serrapeptase should be taken on an empty stomach.  The reason for this is to avoid stomach acid that digests food, and would also digest the capsule before it can leave the stomach and enter the digestive tract.

Most Serrapeptase brands have enteric coating to help the capsule survive the stomach acid.  I recently did a study on what enteric coating consists of.  The most popular enteric coatings consist of HPMCP (hydroxypropyl methylcellulose phthalate), and CAP (cellulose acetate phthalate)  These enteric coatings are part of a family of chemicals that are plasticizers.  Phthalates are basically a thin plastic coating that protects the contents from dissolving in the stomach.

I am not happy that I ingested plastic, while trying to treat Peyronie's, and improve my health.  I definitely would not recommend products that include these chemicals in their enteric coating.  There are alternatives though.  

The other protective coatings I found are Acid Armor, which is an extra thick cellulose capsule that is phthalate free.  Arthur Andrew Medical uses this coating on their Serrapeptase capsule.  Robert Redfern's Serra Enzyme also uses a thickened delayed release capsule that is phthalate free.  I also found another enteric coating that is a food grade product.  MAAC (Methacrylic Acid Copolymer) which is considered food safe.  Serracor-NK uses this coating on their Serrapeptase/Natto blend product.

Advocates for Enteric coating test the enzyme capsules in extremely acid conditions, which do not reflect the "real life" conditions of an empty stomach.  The capsules by themselves, when taken on an empty stomach do not induce stomach acid production.  Acid production occurs when the stomach fills with food and the lining becomes stretched.  Taking Serrapeptase on an empty stomach will typically see the capsule enter the intestines in 30 minutes or less.  Once in the intestines, the capsule dissolves and the enzyme is absorbed into the body.

How is Serrapeptase Measured?
Serratiopeptidase units or SPU's are a measurement of activity per capsule.  Serrapeptase is not based on weight.  A capsule of Enterez brand contains 30 mg., while Dr's. Best contains 500 mg, but both brands contain 120,000 SPU's per capsule.  So you can see that weight alone does not indicate activity level.  When purchasing Serrapeptase look for the activity level.  A listing in mg.'s is not a relevant measurement.  

The most effective way to deliver Serrapeptase is in encapsulated powder capsules.  Hard tablets typically are heated during production and the heating decreases the activity of the enzyme.  Raw powder is hard to mix, it is inconvenient and most of it would be digested in the stomach.

Which Brand is the Best Buy?
Price comparison is based on the MSRP (manufacturer's suggested retail price).  I broke down the cost by the activity level of each brand.  Cost per 100,000 SPU's

Solaray came out to $1.09 per 100m SPU,  Dr.s Best was $.69 per 100m SPU on their 40 SPU capsule and $.48 per 100m SPU on their 120 SPU capsule.  Source Natural's price was $.62 per 100m SPU.  Vitamin Shoppe and Enerex were both $.55 per 100m SPU.  All of the brands just mentioned use traditional enteric coating.  Solary had the lowest price per bottle of capsules, but also the lowest activity level per capsule.  It ended up being the highest price, based on activity.
Drum Roll Please; the winners are:
Arthur Andrew Medical - Acid Armor
250 SPU capsule - 36 cents per 100,000 SPU

 Robert Redfern's Serra Enzyme delayed release
250 SPU capsule -  29 cents per 100,000 SPU

Based on this information, the best brands without phthalates and the the highest activity levels, are also the best buy.

Combination enzyme products are:
Serracor NK - MAAC enteric food safe phthalate free coating
Blockbuster All Clear - delayed release phthalate free coating
Neprinol - Acid Armor, phthalate free

Serranol - Couldn't find information on this brand capsule.

Enzyme combination products will be written about in a future article.  More research is needed for these products.

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