Bromelain is an enzyme that breaks down the protein and causes milk coagulation, and we can find it in fresh pineapple. For commercial purposes it mainly comes from pineapple stems; this enzyme is different from the one we find in the fruit. It is produced in Japan, Taiwan and Hawaii.
How does it work?
Bromelain is a powerful anti-inflammatory agent that relieves pain, reduces swelling and stimulates tissue recovery. Its is believed that its efficacy comes from the interaction with prostaglandins, substances similar to hormones. It reduces the activity of prostaglandins that cause pain and inflammation, and stimulates the production of other types of prostaglandins, those with anti-inflammatory activity. It also stimulates the degradation of fibrinogen, insoluble protein associated with fluid retention.
MAIN USEFUL EFFECTS: due to anti-inflammatory activity, bromelain is useful in the treatment of pain and swelling caused by excessive muscle strain and injuries, as well as in the healing of wounds and burns. According to one study, wounds of the half of the 700 firefighters who took bromelain healed twice as fast as in those who did not use it.
There is also evidence that bromelain helps reduce bruise and pain after minor surgery, especially in women who had a surgery after delivery. In combination with trypsin, also a proteolytic enzyme, bromelain is effective in the treatment of urinary tract infections. In a preliminary study, 78% of the patients who took a combination of these enzymes confirmed the relief of symptoms. When taken with papain, bromelain suppresses menstrual pain as it reduces cervical spasms.
ADDITIONAL USEFUL EFFECTS: due to the antiplatelet function, bromelain works favorably in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases. It reduces the risk of thrombosis and angina, and also leads to relaxation of the arteries. People who suffered from angina and took 1000 to 1400 mg of bromelain, state that after 4 to 90 days the symptoms have disappeared. (The time needed to eradicate the disease is related to their intensity before taking bromelain.)
Since it is an enzyme that breaks down proteins, bromelain could have an effect on cancer, but further research is needed. There is also the possibility of enhancing the action of anti-cancer drugs and slowing cancer growth. When taken orally, this enzyme can stimulate the production of compounds that work against cancer.
It seems that bromelain reduces the density of mucus, which can help in treating asthma or chronic bronchitis. It relieves the symptoms of sinuitis. Other researches show its effect on improving the absorption of some antibiotics, such as amoxicillin and penicillin, but also curcumin, the active ingredient of curcuma. Some say that if taken together with papain, a proteolytic enzyme from papaya, it can alleviate painful menstruation.
Because it has anti-inflammatory properties, bromelain can help with rheumatoid arthritis. According to preliminary results of one study, 73% of subjects who took bromelain between three weeks to 13 months are talking about good to excellent results. Since it can reduce swelling and bruises after surgery, and does not interfere with blood clotting, bromelain can sometimes be given to liposuction patients.
How to take it?
DOSAGE: a usual, recommended dose is between 250 and 500 mg of bromelain, three times a day.
USE GUIDELINES: bromelain should be taken on an empty stomach, and when used as a help in digestion it should be taken with food, especially with fatty meals. To alleviate swelling or inflammation, it should be taken until the symptoms disappear.
Possible side effects
Even when taken at very high doses, the side effects are very rare. Some particularly sensitive people may experience an allergic reaction or skin irritation. There is a report on the accelerated heart function associated with taking this enzyme.
IMPORTANT: if you are allergic to pineapple, do not take nutritional supplements containing bromelain. Since bromelain reduces blood clotting, it should be avoided for anyone who is taking anti-clotting medication; little is known about the interactions of these substances.