Bromelain is a general name for a family of sulfhydryl-containing, proteolytic enzymes obtained from the pineapple plant. It appears a great deal of the physiological activity of bromelain cannot be accounted for by its large proteolytic content, but that its beneficial effects are due to multiple factors, some of which are as yet unknown.
A variety of designations have been used to indicate the activity of bromelain. Rorer units (RU), gelatin dissolving units (GDU), and milk clotting units (MCU) are the most commonly used measures of activity. One gram of bromelain standardized to 2,000 MCU would be approximately equal to 1gm with 1,200 GDU of activity or 8gm with 100,000 RU of activity.
Bromelain is absorbed intact through the gastrointestinal tract, with the highest concentration of bromelain being found in the blood one hour after administration. However, its proteolytic activity is rapidly deactivated.
In human clinical tests, side-effects are generally not observed. However, there is always the possibility that someone may develop an allergy to bromelain. Possible hidden sources of bromelain include meat tenderizers and beer, where it is used in the clarification process.
Bromelain has shown therapeutic benefits in doses as small as 160mg per day. For most conditions, the best results occur at doses of 750-1000mg per day. Most research on bromelain has been done utilizing four divided daily doses, usually between meals.
Bromelain can help with the following
If there is kidney involvement, bromelain can be added as a cleansing agent. Flax oil or fish oil along with bromelain between meals is a good natural anti-inflammatory combination.
Dosage: 150 to 250mg qid away from meals. Inhibits platelet aggregation and breaks down plaque.
Due to its anti-inflammatory properties and ability to prevent blood platelet aggregation, bromelain has been suggested as a treatment for phlebitis. There are some positive reports in clinical trials of bromelain improving thrombophlebitis. [Planta Med 1990 56:249, Alt. Med. Rev. 1996 1:243, Angiology. 1969;20: pp.22-26]
Research has indicated that bromelain prevents or minimizes the severity of angina pectoris. A reduction in the incidence of heart attacks after administration of potassium and magnesium orotate along with 120-400mg of bromelain per day has been reported also. [J IAPM 1979;6: pp.139-151</>]
While bromelain is considered to have very low toxicity, caution is advised when treating individuals with hypertension. One report has indicated that those with pre-existing hypertension might experience tachycardia following high doses of bromelain. [Hawaii Med J 1978;37: pp.143-146]
In an extensive study of the effect of bromelain on the stomach lining, it was found that bromelain increased the uptake of sulfur by 50% and glucosamine by 30-90%. Increased uptake of these substances allows the tissue to heal more rapidly. [Hawaii Med J 1976;2: pp.39-47]
Bromelain has been used successfully as a digestive enzyme following pancreatectomy, in cases of pancreas insufficiency, and in other intestinal disorders. The combination of ox bile, pancreatin, and bromelain is effective in lowering stool fat excretion in patients with pancreatic insufficiency and resulting in a symptomatic improvement in pain, flatulence and stool frequency. [J Asso Phys Ind 1981;29: pp.207-209]
Bromelain has been clinically proven to reduce tissue swelling and speed healing when used after trauma events like boxing or surgery.
In a clinical study of 124 patients hospitalized with chronic bronchitis, pneumonia, bronchopneumonia, bronchiectasis, or pulmonary abscess, those receiving bromelain orally showed a decrease in the volume and pus-like quality of the sputum. [J Clin Invest 1985;75: pp.456-461]
As the kinins and prostaglandins of inflammation are inhibited by the action of bromelain, the decreased inflammation reduces recovery time. Antibacterial agents should be combined with the bromelain except where trauma is clearly the cause of the problem. With trauma, bromelain, bedrest, ice and support is recommended. Bromelain may enhance the efficacy of the antibacterial herbs by increasing the permeability of the blood:testis barrier. Dose: 250mg 4x/day (between meals).
Bromelain’s most common application is in the treatment of inflammation and soft tissue injuries. Bromelain’s anti-inflammatory activity appears to be due to a variety of physiological actions. It has been shown to speed healing from bruises and hematomas. Treatment with bromelain following blunt injuries to the musculoskeletal system results in a clear reduction in swelling, pain at rest and during movement, and tenderness. Administration of bromelain pre-surgically can reduce the average number of days for complete disappearance of pain and inflammation. [Fortschr Med 1995;113: pp.303-306]
Bromelain has been shown to reduce cough and thin mucus secretions for easier removal in chronic bronchitis, but probably not in acute bronchitis.
Bromelain and papain promote the absorption of quercetin and have their own anti-inflammatory properties. [Jpn J Pharmacol 1972;22: pp.519-34]
Bromelain at 250 to 500mg can be taken 3 to 4 times per day on an empty stomach. Fish oil and bromelain make a powerful anti-inflammatory combination.
Bromelain at 400mg three times per day, separate from meals, may have an anti-inflammatory action in overactive bladder.
|May do some good
|Likely to help
|Reasonably likely to cause problems
Commonly: Proteolytic (protein-digesting) Enzymes. Enzymes that are able to break down certain proteins, yet do not attack the beneficial proteins that make up the normal cells of the body. These proteolytic enzymes are said to have great value in fighting cancer as well as many other diseases. If the body were always capable of producing adequate proteolytic enzymes, it is possible that cancer would not develop. In theory, cancer cells have a type of protein coating that is destroyed by these proteolytic enzymes. When this protein is destroyed, the body's white cells are able to attack the cancer cells and destroy them.
Specific protein catalysts produced by the cells that are crucial in chemical reactions and in building up or synthesizing most compounds in the body. Each enzyme performs a specific function without itself being consumed. For example, the digestive enzyme amylase acts on carbohydrates in foods to break them down.
Gelatin Digesting Unit. A dosage measurement of enzyme activity. Potencies of bromelain are based on GDUs or MCUs. One GDU equals 1.5 MCU.
Milk Clotting Unit. A dosage measurement of enzyme activity. Potencies of bromelain are based on GDUs or MCUs. One MCU equals .66 GDU.
(gm): A metric unit of weight, there being approximately 28 grams in one ounce.
Pertaining to the stomach, small and large intestines, colon, rectum, liver, pancreas, and gallbladder.
Hypersensitivity caused by exposure to a particular antigen (allergen), resulting in an increased reactivity to that antigen on subsequent exposure, sometimes with harmful immunologic consequences.
(mg): 1/1,000 of a gram by weight.