What Is Serrapeptase?

The silkworm enzyme is believed to reduce pain and inflammation

Serrapeptase capsules and tablets

Verywell / Anastasia Tretiak

Serrapeptase, also sometimes called serratiopeptidase, is a proteolytic enzyme derived from the intestinal bacteria of silkworms.

Serrapeptase was first isolated by scientists in Japan in the 1960s. Soon after, it became a bestselling drug in that country (under the brand name Danzen), later finding its way onto drugstore shelves in Europe and North America as a dietary supplement.

Eventual doubts about serrapeptase's efficacy led its manufacturer to voluntarily withdraw it from the market in 2011. Despite the recall, there are plenty of manufacturers that still produce serrapeptase supplements and point to their efficacy in clinical studies.

There is limited research on the benefits of serrapeptase, but some complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) practitioners suggest it exerts anti-inflammatory effects that may reduce pain and swelling. Some also use serrapeptase to relieve pain following minor surgery.

This article will explore the potential uses of serrapeptase. It will also look at dosage recommendations and side effects, precautions, and interactions of serrapeptase supplements.

Dietary supplements are not regulated like drugs in the United States, meaning the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not approve them for safety and effectiveness before products are marketed. When possible, choose a supplement tested by a trusted third party, such as USP, ConsumerLab, or NSF. 

However, even if supplements are third-party tested, that doesn’t mean they are necessarily safe for all or effective in general. Therefore, it is important to talk to your healthcare provider about any supplements you plan to take and check in about potential interactions with other supplements or medications.

Supplement Facts

  • Active ingredient(s): Proteolytic enzymes
  • Alternate name(s): Butterfly extract, serratiopeptidase, silkworm enzyme, serralysin
  • Legal status: Legal in the United States and sold over the counter
  • Suggested dose: Ranges from 10 to 60 milligrams (mg) per day
  • Safety considerations: May cause side effects, including rash, stomach pain, and joint pain

Uses of Serrapeptase

Supplement use should be individualized and vetted by a healthcare professional, such as a registered dietitian, pharmacist, or healthcare provider. No supplement is intended to treat, cure, or prevent disease. 

Proponents of alternative medicine claim that serrapeptase can help treat a wide range of medical conditions, especially those that involve inflammation. Researchers believe that serrapeptase works by facilitating the drainage of fluid that can build up during inflammation.

However, many health claims surrounding serrapeptase are unsupported by scientific evidence.

That is not to say there is no potential benefit of using serrapeptase, but studies that make up the current body of research are often poorly designed or too small to be statistically relevant.

The following is a look at some of the more compelling pieces of evidence in support of serrapeptase use.

Oral Surgery

Some dentists recommend their patients use serrapeptase to alleviate swelling and pain after oral surgery. According to one review, serrapeptase is sometimes used for this purpose either alone or along with steroids or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

The same review looked at five studies on serrapeptase for facial pain, swelling, and lockjaw (trismus) often associated with oral surgery. It was concluded that serrapeptase most significantly improved lockjaw, while steroids were found to reduce swelling better. Unfortunately, the review could not conclude the effects of serrapeptase on facial pain.

A small clinical trial compared serrapeptase to a placebo for people who had recently had a molar removed. At the end of the study, serrapeptase was found to significantly improve lockjaw when compared to placebo (a pill with no healing properties). It also improved swelling, but not significantly.

More high-quality research is certainly needed to determine the role of serrapeptase in oral surgery.

Upper Respiratory Symptoms

It is believed that serrapeptase could very well alleviate common upper respiratory tract symptoms, like inflammation and pain. However, to date, there is little qualitative evidence of such benefits.

According to one review, serrapeptase causes effects similar to cyclooxygenase-1 (COX-1) and cyclooxygenase-1 (COX-2) inhibitor drugs like the NSAIDs Aleve (naproxen) and Celebrex (celecoxib). The review points out that serrapeptase dissolves dead and damaged tissues caused by inflammation, commonly seen in respiratory issues like sinusitis and bronchitis.

Interestingly, serrapeptase has recently been recommended as a potential therapy for COVID-19 symptoms. Researchers believe serrapeptase could reduce symptoms through its anti-inflammatory and mucolytic (mucus-reducing) properties. However, these potential benefits have yet to be confirmed.

Other Uses

Other serrapeptase uses have been suggested but poorly researched.

A review of in vitro and in vivo serrapeptase lab studies included research on the following:

Although much can be learned from lab studies, human trials are required to confirm these and other potential uses of serrapeptase.

What Are the Side Effects of Serrapeptase?

Serrapeptase is generally thought to be safe. However, you may experience side effects when taking it. These side effects may be mild or severe.

Common Side Effects

Few studies on serrapeptase have reported side effects or adverse reactions. Generally, common side effects of serrapeptase tend to be mild and may include:

Typically, side effects will subside once you stop using serrapeptase. You should talk with your healthcare provider if side effects persist.

Severe Side Effects

In rare cases, serrapeptase can cause Stevens-Johnson syndrome, a severe skin reaction characterized by large blisters and even shedding skin. There have also been reports of pneumonitis (lung inflammation) and blood-clotting abnormalities in some people who have used serrapeptase.

Additionally, one report from 2016 suggested that serrapeptase may increase the size of an abscess, in part by breaking down masses of cells in surrounding tissues. However, this has only been reported in one case study to date.

To best prevent these and other potential side effects, only use serrapeptase as directed.


Serrapeptase is considered safe for most people, but some may need to avoid it.

The safety of serrapeptase has not been established in children or people who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Given the potential harms and uncertain benefits of serrapeptase, it may be best that these groups avoid it.

People with blood-clotting disorders may also need to avoid serrapeptase. This is due to serrapeptase's potential disruption of normal blood clotting.

Before starting serrapeptase, let your healthcare provider know about any existing health issues.

Serrapeptase tablets

Verywell / Anastasia Tretiak

Dosage: How Much Serrapeptase Should I Take?

Always speak with a healthcare provider before taking a supplement to ensure that the supplement and dosage are appropriate for your individual needs. 

Due to a lack of research, there are no guidelines for the appropriate use of serrapeptase. However, doses of up to 60 milligrams daily have been used safely in short-term studies.

Many clinical studies have used serrapeptase doses of 10 to 60 milligrams daily. The enzyme activity of serrapeptase is said to be 20,000 units per 10 milligrams. It is recommended that you take serrapeptase on an empty stomach and avoid eating food for at least 30 minutes after taking it.

As a general rule, never exceed the recommended dose on the product label. Also, consult your healthcare provider regarding the proper dosage for your specific needs.

What Happens If I Take Too Much Serrapeptase?

There are no documented reports of toxicity or overdose regarding serrapeptase. As such, serrapeptase is regarded as a safe supplement for many people.

Regardless, it is vital that you follow dosage and usage guidelines when taking any supplement. Taking too much serrapeptase may increase your chances of various side effects.


Supplements can interact with other supplements, nutrients, or medications. Research suggests that serrapeptase may interfere with certain medications.

Serrapeptase may interact with blood thinners like Jantoven (warfarin) and Plavix (clopidogrel). Taking them together may cause easy bruising or bleeding. Therefore, people taking these and other similar medications should avoid using serrapeptase.

Serrapeptase may also increase the risk of bleeding or bruising when taken with:

  • Garlic
  • Fish oil
  • Turmeric

Please carefully read the ingredients list and nutrition facts panel of any new supplement to learn which ingredients are in the product and how much of each ingredient is included. You should review this supplement label with your healthcare provider to discuss any potential interactions with foods, other supplements, and medications. 

How to Store Serrapeptase

Storing supplements properly can ensure their quality is maintained.

Like other supplements, serrapeptase should be stored in a cool, dry place. Keep it out of direct sunlight. For best practice, keep serrapeptase out of the sight and reach of pets and small children to prevent accidental consumption.

Discard serrapeptase supplements once their expiration date has passed. The expiration date should be listed on the supplement bottle or packaging.

Similar Supplements

Other supplements may work like serrapeptase as there are many that have the same or similar health claims.

Serrapeptase is mostly thought of as an anti-inflammatory agent. Supplements that are also thought to have anti-inflammatory properties similar to serrapeptase include:

  • Fish oil: Omega-3 fatty acids, like the ones found in certain types of fish and fish oil, have long been used to treat inflammation. In fact, these anti-inflammatory properties have recently been studied for their potential role in the treatment of certain psychiatric, neurological, and neurodegenerative disorders.
  • Resveratrol: An antioxidant found in grapes, resveratrol may carry anti-inflammatory properties. According to a 2021 review, resveratrol may work by inhibiting oxidative stress.
  • Quercetin: Although research is still emerging, quercetin has been looked at for its potential anti-inflammatory effects. Quercetin is thought to influence how certain cells interact, leading to reduced rates of inflammation.

Your healthcare provider may recommend that you only take one supplement for inflammation at a time. Talk with your healthcare provider about the right supplement for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is serrapeptase?

    Serrapeptase (also known as serratiopeptidase and serralysin) is an enzyme that was discovered in the intestines of the Bombyx mori silkworm back in the 1960s. CAM practitioners contend that it has medicinal properties and can be used to treat pain and inflammation.

    It is sold in supplement form and has been researched for potential uses. However, many of these still need to be backed up by scientific evidence.

  • What is serrapeptase used for?

    Serrapeptase is claimed by some to prevent or treat a wide range of health conditions, including:

    Despite these claims, few are supported by research. More human trials on the benefits of serrapeptase are needed. No supplement should be used to treat, prevent, or cure a health condition. Always consult a healthcare provider for medical advice.

  • How much serrapeptase should I take?

    There are no guidelines for the appropriate use of serrapeptase in any form.

    Several studies have used serrapeptase doses of 10 to 60 milligrams per day. This dose range appears to be safe.

    Be sure to talk with your healthcare provider about the right serrapeptase dose for you.

  • What are the side effects of serrapeptase?

    Serrapeptase appears well tolerated, yet little is known about its long-term safety. Side effects may include:

    • Nausea
    • Stomach upset
    • Muscle aches
    • Joint pain
    • Cough
    • Rash (uncommon)

    You should stop taking serrapeptase and talk with your healthcare provider if you experience side effects.

Sources of Serrapeptase & What to Look For

Serrapeptase is widely found in supplement form.

Serrapeptase is derived from silkworms and is not found in foods. Instead, serrapeptase can be found as a supplement in various forms.

Serrapeptase Supplements

Serrapeptase supplements are available online and in some health food and specialty stores.

Capsules appear to be the most popular form of serrapeptase supplements. Serrapeptase capsules may be vegan, kosher, and/or gluten-free.

If you are strictly vegetarian or vegan, double-check that gel caps are made of vegetable-based gelatins rather than animal-derived bovine or porcine gelatin.

Dietary supplements are not strictly regulated in the United States. To ensure the highest quality, opt for brands tested by an independent certifying body like USP, NSF International, or ConsumerLab.


Serrapeptase is an enzyme derived from silkworms. It is mostly thought to be useful for inflammation but has many other potential health benefits. Yet, more research is needed to support these health claims.

Talk with your healthcare provider before starting serrapeptase supplements.

11 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Health Science Authority. HSA updates on the phasing-out of serratiopeptidase-containing preparations as medicinal products.

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  4. Tamimi Z, Al Habashneh R, Hamad I, Al-Ghazawi M, Roqa'a AA, Kharashgeh H. Efficacy of serratiopeptidase after impacted third molar surgery: a randomized controlled clinical trialBMC Oral Health. 2021;21(1):91. Published 2021 Mar 2. doi:10.1186/s12903-021-01451-0.

  5. Tiwari M. The role of serratiopeptidase in the resolution of inflammationAsian J Pharm Sci. 2017;12(3):209-215. doi:10.1016/j.ajps.2017.01.003

  6. Sharma C, Jha NK, Meeran MFN, Patil CR, Goyal SN, Ojha S. Serratiopeptidase, a serine protease anti-inflammatory, fibrinolytic, and mucolytic drug, can be a useful adjuvant for management in covid-19. Front Pharmacol. 2021;12:603997.

  7. Jadhav SB, Shah N, Rathi A, Rathi V, Rathi A. Serratiopeptase: insights into therapeutic applications. Biotechnol Rep (Amst). 2020 Dec:28:e00544. doi:10.1016/j.btre.2020.e00544

  8. Rajaram P, Bhattarcharjee A, Ticku S. Serrotiopeptase - a cause for spread of infection. J Clin Diagn Res. 2016;10(8):ZD31-2. doi:10.7860/JCDR/2016/21388.8302

  9. Giacobbe J, Benoiton B, Zunszain P, Pariante CM, Borsini A. The anti-inflammatory role of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids metabolites in pre-clinical models of psychiatric, neurodegenerative, and neurological disorders. Front Psychiatry. 2020;11:122.

  10. Meng T, Xiao D, Muhammed A, Deng J, Chen L, He J. Anti-Inflammatory action and mechanisms of resveratrolMolecules. 2021;26(1):229. doi:10.3390/molecules26010229

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Additional Reading

By Brittany Lubeck, RD
Brittany Lubeck, RD, is a nutrition writer and registered dietitian with a master's degree in clinical nutrition. 

Originally written by Cathy Wong
Cathy Wong

Cathy Wong is a nutritionist and wellness expert. Her work is regularly featured in media such as First For Women, Woman's World, and Natural Health.

Learn about our editorial process