Bromelain is a protein-digesting enzyme that is extracted from the stem and fruit of the pineapple plant. This enzyme helps ease discomfort and treat bodily conditions because of its medicinal properties, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Pineapples are plentiful and easily found in markets to eat, although high concentrations of bromelain are extracted into supplements in capsule, tablet and topical forms.
Bromelain is effective in reducing swelling and inflammation, UMMC reports, as it breaks down fibrin in the blood. Fibrin is a major factor in inflammatory reactions and fluid retention when body tissues are injured or infected.
According to the American Cancer Society, bromelain has other health benefits. These include: • Treatment for digestive disorders • Relief of pain caused by joint disorders such as arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome • Enhancement of the immune system • Treatment of swelling and inflammation of the nose and sinuses The University of Maryland Medical Center states that bromelain helps: • Healing of burned skin when applied topically • Reduction of swelling from insect bites and stings when used topically • Kill viruses and bacteria, which enhances treatment of bronchitis, pneumonia and urinary tract infections
Dosage recommended for bromelain by the German Commission E (the German regulatory agency for herbal treatments) is 80 mg. to 320 mg. two to three times a day. In other words, a person would need to eat one to eight pineapples daily to reach this dose. Pineapples also must be eaten raw in order to get benefits because cooking destroys the bromelain enzyme. Bromelains' dosage is dependent on the medical conditions, however, for most of the ailments above, results are seen with a dosage of 460 mg. to 1,000 mg. per day.
No reports of serious side effects have been noted, although mild ones can occur such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and heavy menstrual bleeding. If a person is allergic to pineapples, bromelain supplements should not be taken because they can cause skin reactions or asthma-like symptoms. There are a few possible interactions between medications and bromelain. Consult your physician if you are taking anticoagulants/antiplatelet drugs (blood thinners), sedatives, antidepressants, drugs to treat insomnia, aspirin and antibiotics. Pregnant women should not take bromelain without consulting an OB/GYN. Even though bromelain is a natural supplement, taking this enzyme needs to be approved by the doctor to ensure safety during pregnancy and later when breastfeeding.
Because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not regulate natural supplements, there is no guarantee on the strength, purity or safety of bromelain you buy in health food stores or markets.