Bromelain is a mixture of enzymes found naturally in the juice and stems of pineapples.
Called a proteolytic enzyme, bromelain is believed to help with the digestion of proteins.
Some bromelain appears to be absorbed by the body intact, so it is also thought to have effects outside the digestive tract. In fact, bromelain is often marketed as a natural anti-inflammatory for conditions such as arthritis. It’s one of the most popular supplements in Germany, where it is approved by the Commission E (*) for the treatment of inflammation and swelling of the nose and sinuses due to surgery or injury.
Bromelain is typically extracted from pineapples and made into capsule or tablet form. Because it’s able to digest protein, bromelain is available in some grocery stores as a meat tenderizer. A topical form of bromelain is also being explored experimentally for burns. When used for as a digestive aid, bromelain is usually taken with meals. When used for inflammatory conditions, practitioners typically recommend taking bromelain between meals on an empty stomach to maximize absorption. What is Bromelain?
(*) Definition: The Commission E is a highly regarded committee of researchers, physicians, toxicologists and pharmacists that was created in 1978 by the German government to determine the safety and effectiveness of herbs sold in Germany. The Commission E has published monographs on the use and possible side effects and drug interactions of over 300 herbs.
Why Do People Use Bromelain?
Surgery and Injuries
There is some evidence that bromelain supplements may reduce swelling, bruising, inflammation and pain after surgery and injury. In Germany, bromelain has been approved for these uses by the Commission E since 1993.
Bromelain has been suggested as a complementary treatment for sinusitis. Preliminary studies suggest that it may help reduce congestion, improve breathing and suppress coughing. It’s approved by the Commission E as a complementary treatment for nasal and sinus swelling and inflammation after ear, nose and throat surgery.
Bromelain is a popular natural digestive aid due to its ability to digest proteins. It’s used for bloating, gas and other digestive symptoms and for conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome. Bromelain is often used alone or in combination with other enzymes such as lipase, which digests fats, and amylase, which digests starch.
Bromelain and other proteolytic enzymes have been explored as a complementary treatment for cancer.
Bromelain may help with mild pain associated with osteoarthritis. It’s a common ingredient in nutritional supplements marketed as a natural pain remedy for arthritis.