Serrapeptase is an enzyme taken from silkworms that is used as a dietary supplement for joint pain, headaches and inflammation. There is also evidence suggesting that it may be an effective treatmeant for lung symptoms of cystic fibrosis.
Serrapeptase is an enzyme that breaks down protein. It is not directly derived from silkworms, although it is present in their guts. The enzyme ultimately originates from bacteria that live inside the insect's digestive system. Generated by a strain of Serratia marcescences, a type of bacteria that also infects humans, the insect uses the enzyme's protein-dissolving properties to break out of its famously silky cocoon.
The enzyme, which has anti-inflammatory properties, is used in Japan and Europe to treat conditions such as carpal tunnel and arthritis. It is also used to treat migraine pain, breast pain and heart disease. It is effective at thinning phlegm and killing bacteria, but as of 2015, its pain-reducing and anti-inflammatory properties are not as strongly confirmed. Evidence indicates it may be effective at reducing pain and inflammation, but many of the studies that have been performed on it report only small effects.