What is Bromelain?

Bromelain is an enzyme derived from pineapples (Ananas comosus). It has several medicinal properties, including anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effects. Bromelain is available in supplements as well as topical formulations.

What Are the Benefits of Bromelain?

The most well-known benefit of bromelain is its anti-inflammatory effect. This can be helpful for conditions like arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and other inflammatory conditions. Bromelain may also help to reduce pain associated with these conditions.

In addition to its anti-inflammatory effects, bromelain has also been shown to have some antimicrobial activity. This means it may help to fight infections, particularly those of the respiratory tract. Bromelain may also help to boost the immune system.

Bromelain has a wide range of potential health benefits. However, most of these benefits are supported only by anecdotal evidence or preliminary studies in animals or test tubes. More research is needed to determine whether bromelain is effective for any of these uses.

What are the side effects of bromelain?

Bromelain is generally safe when taken by mouth in small doses. However, it can cause some side effects, including gastrointestinal discomfort, diarrhea, and nausea. Bromelain can also cause skin irritation when applied topically.

When taken in large doses or for long periods of time, bromelain may increase the risk of bleeding. Therefore, people who take blood-thinning medications or have bleeding disorders should avoid taking bromelain supplements.

Pregnant women and young children should also avoid taking bromelain supplements. There is not enough research to know whether bromelain is safe for these groups.

To reduce the risk of side effects, start with a low dose of bromelain and increase gradually as needed. Bromelain supplements should also be taken with food.

Dosage

The recommended dose of bromelain depends on several factors, including the person’s age, health, and other conditions.

Interactions

Bromelain may interact with some medications. Therefore, people taking any medication should speak to a doctor before taking bromelain supplements.

Bromelain may also interact with blood-thinning medications, such as warfarin (Coumadin). Taking bromelain with these medications may increase the risk of bleeding.

Possible interactions include:

Blood-thinning medications: Bromelain may increase the effects of these medications and lead to increased bleeding. Examples of blood-thinning medications include warfarin (Coumadin) and aspirin.

Antiplatelet drugs: These drugs help to prevent blood clots. Taking bromelain with antiplatelet drugs may increase the risk of bleeding. Examples of antiplatelet drugs include clopidogrel (Plavix) and aspirin.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): These drugs are used to relieve pain and inflammation. Taking bromelain with NSAIDs may increase the risk of bleeding. Examples of NSAIDs include ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB) and naproxen (Aleve).

Bromelain may also interact with other supplements and herbs, such as garlic, ginger, ginkgo, and ginseng. Therefore, people taking any supplement or herb should speak to a doctor before taking bromelain supplements.

Mechanism of Action

The exact mechanism of action of bromelain is not known. However, it is thought to work by breaking down proteins, which can reduce inflammation. Bromelain may also boost the immune system.

Preliminary research suggests that bromelain may help to fight cancer. One study found that bromelain supplements reduced the growth of tumors in rats with colon cancer. However, more research is needed to determine whether bromelain is effective for this use.

Pharmacokinetics

Bromelain is a natural enzyme that is found in pineapples. It can be taken as a supplement or used topically as a cream or ointment.

When taken by mouth, bromelain is broken down by the stomach and absorbed into the bloodstream. When applied to the skin, bromelain is not thought to be absorbed into the bloodstream.

The half-life of bromelain is not known. However, one study found that it was eliminated from the body within 24 hours.

Research suggests that bromelain supplements are safe and well tolerated. However, more research is needed to determine their long-term safety and efficacy.