The Benefits of Lumbrokinase

Heart health
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Lumbrokinase is an enzyme sourced from Lumbricus rubellus, a species of earthworm. Sold in dietary supplement form, it's classified as a fibrinolytic enzyme (a substance that promotes the breakdown of fibrinogen, a protein involved in the formation of blood clots). Supplementing with lumbrokinase is thought to offer several health benefits, including enhancing heart health and aiding in stroke prevention by combating blood clots.

Uses

Proponents suggest that lumbrokinase may help with the following health conditions:

Benefits

So far, research on the health effects of lumbrokinase is limited. Still, there's some evidence that it shows promise for the treatment of certain conditions. Here's a look at several findings on the potential benefits:

1) Heart Health

Lumbrokinase may aid in the treatment of angina, according to a preliminary study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine in 2009. For the study, researchers assigned 10 people with both heart disease and angina to one month of treatment with lumbrokinase (in addition to their standard care). By the study's end, angina symptoms had improved in six of the 10 patients.

Additionally, a preliminary study published in the Chinese journal Acta Pharmaceutica Sinica in 2006 found that lumbrokinase may shield heart health.

In tests on rats, the study's authors determined that lumbrokinase may protect against myocardial ischemia (a condition marked by blockage of the coronary arteries and decreased blood flow to the heart).

2) Stroke

Preliminary research indicates that lumbrokinase may help stave off stroke. In a 2013 study published in the Chinese Medical Journal, for instance, 310 people hospitalized with ischemic stroke (a type of stroke that occurs when an artery in the brain becomes blocked) were treated with standard stroke treatment or standard treatment plus lumbrokinase capsules for one year.

By the study's end, the group receiving the lumbrokinase treatment had fewer ischemic strokes.

In a 2008 study from the European Journal of Pharmacology, tests on human cells determined that lumbrokinase may help guard against cerebral ischemia. (A condition marked by insufficient blood flow to the brain, cerebral ischemia can reduce the brain's oxygen supply and, in turn, lead to stroke.) The study found that lumbrokinase may combat cerebral ischemia in part by preventing the formation of blood clots.

In addition, a small study published in Clinical Hemorheology and Microcirculation in 2000 found that lumbrokinase may be beneficial in the treatment of cerebral infarction (a type of ischemic stroke caused by the formation of a blood clot within the brain).

For the study, 31 people with cerebral infarction were treated with lumbrokinase, while another 20 patients were assigned to a control group. Results indicated that lumbrokinase may help treat cerebral infarction in part by decreasing fibrinogen.

3) Diabetes

An animal-based study published in Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice in 2013 suggests that lumbrokinase may help fight diabetic nephropathy (a kidney condition caused in part by poor control of diabetes and blood pressure).

In an experiment involving diabetic rats, scientists observed that treatment with lumbrokinase helped protect against diabetic nephropathy (possibly by affecting certain enzymes thought to play a role in the kidney damage associated with this condition).

Possible Side Effects

Since so few studies have tested lumbrokinase's effects in humans, it's too soon to tell whether lumbrokinase is safe for long-term or regular consumption. Pregnant women, nursing mothers, and children shouldn't take lumbrokinase.

There's also some concern that lumbrokinase may trigger a number of side effects, including nausea, bloating, diarrhea, skin rash, and allergic reaction.

 Since lumbrokinase is said to break down fibrinogen (which is needed to form blood clots), it's theoretically possible that the supplement may interfere with the normal clotting process and lead to bleeding.

People with conditions associated with an increased risk of bleeding shouldn't take lumbrokinase. It shouldn't be taken prior to or following surgery. It also shouldn't be taken with medication, dietary supplements, or herbs that have a blood-thinning effect.

It's important to keep in mind that supplements haven't been tested for safety and dietary supplements are largely unregulated. Here are more tips on using dietary supplements safely.

The Bottom Line

While the preliminary research is intriguing, there's a lack of large-scale clinical trials—the kind of research you want to see to put full stock in a treatment—confirming these effects. If you're still considering using it, it's essential that you consult your physician to discuss whether it's appropriate and safe for you and to weigh the pros and cons. Lumbrokinase shouldn't be used in place of standard treatment for conditions such as angina or stroke. 

For help in reducing your stroke risk, it's essential to manage your blood pressure and cholesterol, follow a balanced diet, exercise regularly, and avoid smoking. Some studies suggest that people who consume green teablack tea, and omega-3 fatty acids may have a reduced risk of stroke.

Sources:

Cao YJ, Zhang X, Wang WH, et al. Oral fibrinogen-depleting agent lumbrokinase for secondary ischemic stroke prevention: results from a multicenter, randomized, parallel-group and controlled clinical trial. Chin Med J (Engl). 2013 Nov;126(21):4060-5.

Ji H, Wang L, Bi H, et al. Mechanisms of lumbrokinase in protection of cerebral ischemia. Eur J Pharmacol. 2008 Aug 20;590(1-3):281-9.

Jin L, Jin H, Zhang G, Xu G. Changes in coagulation and tissue plasminogen activator after the treatment of cerebral infarction with lumbrokinase. Clin Hemorheol Microcirc. 2000;23(2-4):213-8.

Kasim M, Kiat AA, Rohman MS, Hanifah Y, Kiat H. Improved myocardial perfusion in stable angina pectoris by oral lumbrokinase: a pilot study. J Altern Complement Med. 2009 May;15(5):539-44.

Sun H, Ge N, Shao M, Cheng X, Li Y, Li S, Shen J. Lumbrokinase attenuates diabetic nephropathy through regulating extracellular matrix degradation in Streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats. Diabetes Res Clin Pract. 2013 Apr;100(1):85-95.

Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. It is not meant to cover all possible precautions, drug interactions, circumstances or adverse effects. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen.

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