If you suffer from indigestion, a special enzyme made from pineapple might be the key to easing your symptoms.
What is Bromelain?
Bromelain, also known as protease or proteolytic enzymes, is an enzyme derived from pineapple that helps to digest proteins. It can be taken orally or used topically to treat burn wounds and arthritis.
While bromelain aids in digestion, it isn’t your typical digestive enzyme. Depending on how you take it, it can also be used to treat inflammatory conditions.
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This enzyme works differently when taken with or without food. When taken with food, it helps absorb proteins during the digestive process. Bromelain taken without food is put toward breaking down proteins in the blood and elsewhere in the body that contributes to inflammation.
5 Health Benefits of Bromelain
The health benefits of bromelain go far beyond a simple digestive aid. Here are the top research-driven results of taking bromelain.
1. Reduces Pain
Because of bromelain’s ability to break down proteins, it helps to disperse inflammatory proteins that attack joints and cause autoimmune disorders. (1) In rheumatoid arthritis specifically, it decreases inflammation, swelling, and pain. (2, 3)
You can also use bromelain to replace ibuprofen in treating the pain of osteoarthritis, or “wear and tear” arthritis. (4, 5)
2. Protects the Gastrointestinal System
Bromelain also makes the digestive system more efficient, specifically by decreasing inflammatory proteins that damage the lining of the gut and colon. (6)
This is therapeutic for gut disorders like IBD, Crohn’s disease, ulcers and digestive pain from heartburn, acid reflux, diarrhea, and constipation. (7) It can even help to prevent E. coli from proliferating in the digestive tract. (8)
3. Calms Allergies, Sinusitis and Asthma
Sinus-related allergies and respiratory problems can be treated by bromelain to restrict the build-up of histamines. (9) It also decreases sensitization to allergens, and can even modulate the entire immune system and help to prevent allergies. (10)
You can take bromelain to help calm seasonal allergies like hay fever as well as all-season allergies that cause respiratory problems. Keep in mind, however, that it should never replace an asthma inhaler.
4. Fights Cancer Development
Research shows that bromelain can be used as a preventative anti-cancer treatment. (11) That’s because it can suppress the growth of certain types of cancer cells, like leukemia. (12) Bromelain keeps cells healthy by preventing them from turning malignant, and can even kill tumor cells. (13, 14)
5. Supports Healthy Blood Circulation
If you have thicker blood than normal, bromelain can help. It’s ability to break down proteins in the blood can help to support normal clotting. (15) It also prevents plaque from building up in the arteries and prevent blood clots from forming. (16)
Bromelain can be used to treat cardiovascular disease by reducing the risk of pulmonary embolism, or blood clots in the lungs. (17) This is because it can reduce the proteins responsible for excessive blood clots, lowering the risk of blockages and other complications. (18)
How to Take Bromelain
The highest concentration of bromelain is found in the hard, fibrous core of the pineapple, so supplementing might be more effective than simply eating the fruit itself. Bromelain is available in its pure form or along with other proteolytic enzymes, which can further increase its anti-inflammatory benefits. It’s available in both capsule and powder form.
To use as a digestive aid, take bromelain with meals. If you’re aiming for cardiovascular or anti-inflammatory benefits, take it between meals. The recommended dosage for bromelain ranges from 200 milligrams to 800 once or twice per day.
Bromelain is available in most health food stores or online shops that sell supplements, but it’s always wise to read labels and ensure that the product you’re buying is pure. Look for one with no fillers or other ingredients. For best results, get brand recommendations from your practitioner, and ask about your ideal dosage.
Side Effects and Risks of Bromelain
The FDA generally recognizes bromelain as safe, meaning that it isn’t known to be toxic for anyone. However, there are a few categories of people who shouldn’t take it. Always check with your health practitioner to make sure it’s safe for you.
Be mindful that bromelain can interact with certain medications, like blood thinners, and can cause reactions in people who are allergic to pineapple, celery, fennel, carrots, wheat, or latex. (19) If you’re having surgery, consult your doctor before taking bromelain. It can have a blood-thinning effect that might alter your surgeon’s plans.
Some possible side effects when using bromelain can be:
- Changes to bowel movements
Bromelain is a natural enzyme found in pineapple that improves digestion and overall health. If you struggle with irritable bowel disease, rheumatoid arthritis, or other chronic and inflammatory disorders, speak to your practitioner about whether bromelain might be a good addition to your health routine.
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