Bromelain: What is it? Dosage, Health Benefits, Side Effects and Risks

It is a mixture of digestive enzymes of proteins derived from the stem, fruit and juice of the pineapple plant.

Bromelain is a natural substance derived from pineapples. It has been studied extensively and can have significant positive effects on multiple health conditions, including burns, osteoarthritis and cancer.

Bromelain can be used alone or together with other medications. It is used topically to remove dead skin from burns and orally to reduce inflammation and swelling, especially of the nasal passages.

It is also used as a digestive aid for osteoarthritis and to reduce pain in sore muscles.

Forms and doses

Bromelain can be purchased as a pill or tablet for oral ingestion. It is also available as a cream for topical use. Although it is extracted from pineapple, eating pineapple or drinking its juice does not provide a dose large enough to be effective.

When using bromelain, it is important to analyze its use with your doctor and follow the dosing instructions provided.

Bromelain is measured in gelatin digestion units (GDU) per gram. The doses vary from 80 to 400 milligrams per serving, two to three times a day. Your doctor may recommend that you take bromelain with meals to aid digestion, or on an empty stomach to reduce inflammation.

Health benefits

Bromelain and its possible health benefits have been studied extensively in multiple areas. These include:

Osteoarthritis

A review of clinical studies found that the anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties of bromelain make it an effective treatment for pain, swelling of soft tissues and joint stiffness associated with osteoarthritis.

Cardiovascular disease

A summary reported that bromelain was effective in the treatment of cardiovascular diseases, such as peripheral arterial disease, stroke, heart attack and high blood pressure.

Bromelain inhibits the ability of blood platelets to adhere or clump together (aggregation). This can help reduce clot formation and cardiovascular events.

Asthma

The results of an animal study indicated that the anti-inflammatory effects of bromelain could be beneficial for people with asthma or other forms of allergic respiratory disease.

Chronic sinusitis (chronic rhinosinusitis)

A pilot study found that bromelain tablets were effective in relieving the swelling, congestion and other symptoms associated with chronic sinusitis. The study participants received bromelain daily for a period of three months.

Colitis

A study in animals found that purified fruit bromelain reduced inflammation and cured mucosal ulcers caused by inflammatory bowel disease in rats.

Burns

A review of the study found that bromelain, when used as a topical cream, was highly effective in safely removing damaged tissue from wounds and second- and third-degree burns.

Cancer

A 2010 study indicated that bromelain holds promise in the fight against cancer. Bromelain may have the ability to positively affect the growth of cancer cells, and may help control the key pathways that support malignancy.

Side effects and risks

As with all supplements, it is important to discuss bromelain with your doctor before using it. Bromelain may cause mild side effects in some people, especially when taken in high doses. These include:

  • Diarrhea.
  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting
  • Menstrual bleeding heavier than normal.

Avoid the use of bromelain if you take an anticoagulant, such as Warfarin , Pradaxa and others. Bromelain may have an antiplatelet effect on the blood, increasing the potential for excessive bleeding. For this reason, it is also important to avoid the use of bromelain before and after surgery.

Bromelain should not be used by people who are allergic to pineapple or other substances that may cause an allergic reaction in people who are allergic to pineapple (cross-reactivity). These substances include:

  • Grass pollen.
  • Latex.
  • Celery.
  • Fennel.
  • Carrots
  • Wheat.

Bromelain may also increase the effects of certain medications, such as antibiotics, sedatives, and anticonvulsant medications.