|Also Known As:
|| Ananas comosus, Bromelainum
Bromelain is a mixture of protein-digesting enzymes found in pineapples
(Ananas comosus). Bromelain supplements contain active substances that
aid digestion and help reduce inflammation.
Bromelain is useful in the treatment of a wide range of conditions, but it is
particularly effective in relieving inflammation associated with infection and
Studies have shown that bromelain may help in the treatment of the
Surgical Procedures and Sports Injuries
Although studies show mixed results, bromelain supplements may reduce
swelling, bruising, healing time, and pain following surgery and physical
injuries. In fact an authoritative body in Germany called the Commission E
(similar to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration) approved the use of bromelain
for these purposes.
Wounds and Burns
Some studies of animals indicate that bromelain (applied to the surface of
the skin) may be useful in removing dead tissue from third-degree burns
(particularly burns that go through all layers of the skin). This application
has not yet been tested on people, but traditional and current day practices in
Japan, Hawaii and Taiwan include use of topical bromelain to clean wounds and
burns. Similarly, some clinicians may recommend this topical agent to reduce
swelling from insect bites or stings.
Nasal and Sinus Congestion
Although not all experts agree, bromelain supplements may help suppress
cough, reduce nasal mucus associated with sinusitis, and relieve the swelling
and inflammation caused by hay fever. Bromelain is approved by the German
Commission E for the treatment of sinus and nasal swelling following ear, nose,
and throat surgery or trauma.
The protein-digesting enzymes found in bromelain help promote and maintain
proper digestion and may relieve symptoms of stomach upset or heartburn,
particularly when used in conjunction with other enzymes such as amylase (which
digests starch) and lipase (which digests fat). Similarly, an animal study
suggests that the antibacterial effects of bromelain may help to control
diarrhea caused by bacteria. Studies in people are needed.
Arthritis and other Inflammatory Conditions
Bromelain supplements may be as effective as some commonly used nonsteroidal
anti-inflammatory (NSAID) medications (such as ibuprofen and diclofenac) for
reducing pain associated with osteoarthritis. Similarly, preliminary studies
suggest that bromelain may also help reduce the pain associated with rheumatoid
arthritis. Plus, long-standing use of bromelain suggests that this enzyme may be
helpful as part of the treatment for other connective tissue disorders including
scleroderma (build up of tough scar-like tissue in the skin and, at times,
internal organs), bursitis, and tendinitis.
Some scientific evidence from test tubes and animals suggests that bromelain
can fight against infectious agents such as viruses and bacteria. Therefore,
bromelain may prove a useful addition to conventional treatment of bronchitis,
pneumonia, and urinary tract infections. More research is needed.
Amyloid is a protein-like substance that can build up and cause damage to
many organs in the body such as the kidneys, liver, or heart. This build-up of
amyloid is called amyloidosis. In one laboratory study, researchers examined the
tissue of one person with a strong family history of amyloidosis. They found
that bromelain may help breakdown amyloid deposits in kidney tissue. This very
preliminary finding does not indicate how this information will translate to
treatment or prevention of amyloidosis for people in general. Much more research
Bromelain is found in the common pineapple plant.
Bromelain is available in tablet or capsule form for oral use. It may also be
used topically to treat severe burns.
|How to Take It|
There are no known scientific reports on the pediatric use of bromelain.
Therefore, use of this supplement is not currently recommended for children.
The German Commission E recommends 80 to 320 mg two to three times per day.
For specific conditions, higher doses may be prescribed as
- Digestive aid: 500 mg per day in divided doses with meals
- Traumatic injuries: 500 mg four times a day on an empty stomach
- Joint inflammation: 500 to 2,000 mg a day in two divided doses
Because supplements may have side effects or interact with medications, they
should be taken only under the supervision of a knowledgeable healthcare
provider. Bromelain is generally recommended for no longer than 8 to 10 days in
Possible side effects from bromelain include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and
excessive menstrual bleeding.
Individuals who are allergic to pineapples should not use bromelain
supplements because skin reactions and/or asthma-like symptoms may occur.
Pregnant women and individuals with bleeding disorders, high blood pressure,
and liver or kidney disease should consult a healthcare provider before taking
If you are currently being treated with any of the following medications, you
should not use bromelain without first talking to your healthcare provider.
In a clinical study, the combination of bromelain
and amoxicillin increased the levels of this antibiotic in the blood. Some
studies suggest that bromelain may increase the body's ability to absorb
tetracycline, but results of other studies have been conflicting. Until studies
confirm these results, it would be wise to avoid combining bromelain and
Studies with bromelain and tetracycline have produced mixed results. Some
research suggests that bromelain increases levels of tetracycline in the body,
while others indicate that it may cause more of the antibiotic to be excreted in
People taking aspirin, warfarin, or
other medications that thin the blood should use bromelain with extreme caution
because of a possible risk of bleeding when used together.
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|Review Date: April 2002|
|Reviewed By: Participants in the review process include: Ruth DeBusk, RD, PhD, Editor,
Nutrition in Complementary Care, Tallahassee, FL; Jacqueline A. Hart, MD,
Department of Internal Medicine, Newton-Wellesley Hospital, Harvard University
and Senior Medical Editor Integrative Medicine, Boston, MA; Gary Kracoff, RPh
(Pediatric Dosing section February 2001), Johnson Drugs, Natick, Ma; Steven
Ottariono, RPh (Pediatric Dosing section February 2001), Veteran's
Administrative Hospital, Londonderry, NH. All interaction sections have also
been reviewed by a team of experts including Joseph Lamb, MD (July 2000), The
Integrative Medicine Works, Alexandria, VA;Enrico Liva, ND, RPh (August 2000),
Vital Nutrients, Middletown, CT; Brian T Sanderoff, PD, BS in Pharmacy (March
2000), Clinical Assistant Professor, University of Maryland School of Pharmacy;
President, Your Prescription for Health, Owings Mills, MD; Ira Zunin, MD, MPH,
MBA (July 2000), President and Chairman, Hawaii State Consortium for Integrative
Medicine, Honolulu, HI.|
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