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

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

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 reduce inflammation and swelling, especially in nasal passages.

It is also used as a digestive aid for osteoarthritis and reduces 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 essential to analyze its use with your doctor and follow the dosing instructions.

Bromelain is measured in gelatin digestion units (GDU) per gram. The doses vary from 80 to 400 milligrams per serving, two to three times daily. Your doctor may recommend taking 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:


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

Cardiovascular disease

A summary reported that bromelain was influential in treating 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.


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 effectively relieved the swelling, congestion, and other symptoms associated with chronic sinusitis. The study participants received bromelain daily for three months.


An animal study found purified fruit bromelain reduced inflammation and cured mucosal ulcers caused by inflammatory bowel disease.


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


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

Side effects and risks

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

  • Diarrhea.
  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting
  • Menstrual bleeding is heavier than usual.

Avoid bromelain if you take an anticoagulant, such as Warfarin, Pradaxa, etc. Bromelain may have an antiplatelet effect on the blood, increasing the potential for excessive bleeding. For this reason, it is also essential 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.