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What is bromelain and how can it help to relieve inflammation

Was ist Bromelain und wie kann es dabei helfen Entzündungen zu lindern

Pineapple is one of the most popular tropical fruits that contains an enzyme known as bromelain. Bromelain has become a widely studied compound in the scientific field due to its impressive health benefits.

What is bromelain?

Bromelain is a compound made up of proteases and is found in the pineapple fruit. While bromelain may be best known for its ability to aid in digestion and the breakdown of proteins, its potential uses far exceed these functions. Bromelain has much more to offer and the good news is that it is also available as a supplement that can be used in the treatment of numerous diseases.

The history of bromelain is closely linked to the pineapple, as it is the only known good source of this group of enzymes. Bromelain was discovered in 1891 by the chemist Vincente Marcano and subsequently studied further by another chemist named Russell Henry Chittenden. Bromelain was initially named bromelin and was described as a "proteolytic ferment of pineapple juice". The first known primary source of bromelain was the pineapple fruit, before it was later discovered that the ripe pineapple stem had higher levels of bromelain (2).

During the years following its discovery, the production of bromelain has continued to increase. Its commercial success has led manufacturers to develop faster extraction techniques for large-scale production. Today, bromelain supplements are used for numerous health purposes.

It has been observed that the timing of ingestion is important for the desired effect. Taken after a meal, for example, bromelain can improve digestion and the absorption of nutrients, while when taken on an empty stomach it can help to reduce inflammation (3).

Where does bromelain come from?

The only notable source of bromelain is the pineapple plant. The enzyme is usually extracted from either the stem of the plant or young pineapple fruit, although other parts of the plant also contain small amounts of bromelain. There are no other fruits that contain larger amounts of this compound.

There are two types of bromelain, depending on which part of the plant the bromelain was extracted from (4):

  • Tight bromelain: This is the type of bromelain that is widely available on the market, as extraction is cheaper and the pineapple stem is ultimately a waste product. The extraction is done by centrifugation, ultrafiltration or freeze-drying. If bromelain is used in mainstream products, it is most likely of this type.
  • Fruit bromelain: Studies suggest that fruit bromelain has a weaker digestive effect but a better proteolytic (protein-breaking down) effect than strain bromelain. In contrast to stem bromelain, fruit bromelain is rarely used due to its limited availability.

Potential health benefits of bromelain

As a protease enzyme, the primary benefit of bromelain is that it can improve protein absorption. However, bromelain is also commonly used to support healing and as an adjunct to the treatment of numerous diseases. For example, if you suffer from chronic inflammation or sports injuries, you might consider using bromelain supplements to help your body recover and recuperate.

Other potential benefits of bromelain supplements include:

Bromelain can reduce inflammation and swelling

Bromelain can help relieve symptoms of osteoarthritis and rheumatism. It is also used to support the healing of strains and sprains as it can reduce swelling and promote tissue healing. People taking arthritis medication might consider either switching to bromelain as a natural alternative or using it as a supportive treatment (5).

Bromelain can improve the function of the immune system

Studies have shown that bromelain can promote healthy immune system function by regulating numerous pro-inflammatory proteins during periods of cellular stress (6).

Acceleration of wound healing

It has been observed that the use of bromelain after surgery can promote soft tissue healing and reduce bruising. Patients who had taken bromelain experienced faster wound healing compared to subjects who had only used a placebo (7).

Bromelain can reduce the symptoms of sinusitis

Sinusitis is an inflammation of the inner mucous membranes of the sinus cavity, usually caused by infections or allergies. Bromelain is known to relieve symptoms of sinusitis (8). Together with quercetin, bromelain can help relieve sinus inflammation, with quercetin acting as an antihistamine (9).

Bromelain promotes blood circulation

Bromelain may help to promote healthy blood flow by reducing platelet aggregation in the veins and reducing the risk of blood clotting. This could reduce the risk of atherosclerosis and other cardiovascular diseases (10).

Bromelain could relieve menstrual cramps

There are claims that bromelain may help to induce menstruation by relaxing the tissues of the uterus. This could increase blood flow and is also said to help prevent menstrual cramps (11).

What can bromelain be used for?

Due to the impressive components of bromelain, it is not surprising that it is used to treat or reduce the severity of disease symptoms. Although it is usually recommended for patients who have undergone surgery or suffer from chronic sinusitis, bromelain can also be used for many other purposes. These include (12):

Bromelain can be applied to the skin for burns

Studies suggest that bromelain can help remove dead skin cells from third-degree burns and that it can help heal first- and second-degree burns. For severe burns, bromelain should only be used on the skin under medical supervision.

Bromelain can relieve indigestion and heartburn

Bromelain is known to help reduce indigestion and a bloated feeling, especially when taken in combination with other enzymes.

Bromelain can relieve discomfort from insect bites

Applying bromelain directly to insect bites can relieve inflammation and other discomfort.

Bromelain can be used as a meat tenderizer

Pineapple is also used in cooking to soften meat. Today, bromelain is sold in powder form as a meat tenderizer and is usually combined with papain - an enzyme found in the papaya plant (13). In fact, bromelain is such a powerful meat tenderizer that chefs claim it can turn meat into mush if marinated for too long (14).

Scientific studies on the potential benefits and uses of bromelain

Bromelain has been the focus of numerous animal studies. These were usually aimed at investigating the mechanisms and effects of this supplement on different systems of the body. Most of these studies have focused on its role in wound healing and immune function, as well as its anti-inflammatory effects.

In a study conducted at the Manipal College of Dental Sciences, it was observed that bromelain, papain, miswak and neem helped prevent plaque and gingivitis in patients undergoing orthodontic treatment. The results of this study suggest that bromelain, along with the other natural compounds mentioned, could be used as a dental cleanser to reduce the risk of poor dental health in people who wear braces (15).

Research also suggests that bromelain could have positive effects on cancer treatment by slowing or halting the growth of metastases. In a 2013 study, it was observed that bromelain had a direct effect on the growth and spread of gastric and colon cancer cells.

The primary mechanism of action involved the promotion of apoptosis among cancer cells and the activation of certain pathways for cancer cell death (16). Cancer patients also showed improved appetite and a reduction in fatigue and other problems associated with cancer treatment (17).

Bromelain has also been studied for its ability to inhibit lipogenesis, which is important for preventing obesity. A 2012 study conducted at the Institute of Microbial Technology showed that strain bromelain had the ability to reduce a buildup of fat by suppressing adipogenesis and promoting apoptosis in mature adipocytes (18).

How should bromelain be dosed?

The recommended dosage of bromelain depends primarily on the purpose for which it is to be used. Some doctors recommend taking two to three single doses per day. The standard dosage for digestive complaints is between 200 and 2,000 mg after a meal. For other purposes, bromelain can be taken in doses of 200 to 800 mg per day (19).

This dosage varies depending on the bromelain activity of the specific supplement, which is usually measured in MCU or "milk clogging units". For people who take bromelain two or three times a day, the dosage may be reduced over time depending on need (20).

Although bromelain is considered safe and harmless by numerous health organizations, it doesn't hurt to consult a doctor before taking it to make sure you're using the dosage your body needs.

Possible side effects and interactions of bromelain

Bromelain is relatively safe and does not usually cause serious side effects even when taken in large quantities. However, some people may experience allergic reactions after taking bromelain, particularly those who are allergic to pineapples. Some common symptoms of pineapple allergy include (21):

  • Difficulty breathing
  • congestion
  • Congestion of the sinuses
  • Anaphylactic shock

People who are allergic to latex, wheat, celery, carrots and fennel should also avoid bromelain supplements unless they have consulted their doctor. It should also be mentioned that pregnant women should not take bromelain, as there are not enough studies on the safety and harmlessness of this supplement for the mother and her unborn child.

Interactions with medications:

Bromelain may have drug interactions due to its effects on digestion and nutrient absorption. People taking any of the following medications should not use bromelain or limit its use:

Antibiotics: Studies suggest that taking bromelain in combination with antibiotics could increase the absorption and drug levels of these medications in the body (22).

Anticoagulants (warfarin, aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs): Taking bromelain in combination with anticoagulant medications may increase the risk of excessive bleeding (23).

Sedatives: Some studies suggest that bromelain can cause drowsiness in some cases, which can dramatically increase the effects of sedatives and antidepressants (24).

People taking any of these medications should discuss the use of bromelain with their doctor in advance to ensure that they are not harming themselves rather than their health.

Bromelain is an effective, natural anti-inflammatory

Pharmaceutical companies offer a wide range of anti-inflammatory drugs, which can have negative health effects as well as their desired effects.

Bromelain supplements could provide a safe and natural alternative to synthetic painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs. These supplements not only help to relieve inflammation, but can also help to improve the function of the immune system and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.


Q: What does bromelain do?

A: Bromelain is used to relieve various types of inflammation, ranging from sinusitis to inflammation caused by osteoarthritis. Bromelain can also accelerate wound healing and relieve the symptoms of some skin conditions. Some studies have also linked bromelain to the treatment and prevention of cancer (25, 26, 27).

Q: Is bromelain safe and harmless?

A: Bromelain supplements are relatively safe and harmless for human consumption. Studies suggest that taking bromelain for acute sinusitis has no adverse side effects (28). However, it is best to discuss taking bromelain with your doctor to make sure you are not allergic to bromelain.

Q: What are the benefits of turmeric and bromelain?

A: Curcumin, a substance derived from turmeric, and bromelain both have anti-inflammatory effects that can help relieve joint and muscle pain. The combination of these two natural substances may provide a natural and safe alternative for relieving inflammatory conditions (29).

Q: How much bromelain should I take?

A: The recommended dose is between 200 and 800 mg of bromelain per day for inflammation and other problems and 200 to 2,000 mg for the treatment of digestive problems (30). However, it is best to ask your doctor for advice when determining the correct dosage to treat specific conditions.

Q: How long does it take for bromelain to work?

A: The length of time it takes for the effects of bromelain to be felt is not exactly known, although it is commonly used as a short-term medication to treat inflammatory pain (31).

Q: How much bromelain is in a pineapple?

A: Bromelain is usually produced from pineapple stems. There are only small amounts of bromelain in the ripe fruit, which is practically insignificant in the treatment and prevention of disease.

Q: What does bromelain break down?

A: Bromelain is responsible for breaking down protein, which can promote better absorption. It also has the ability to break down fibrin - a blood clotting protein - which may help prevent angina and thrombophlebitis (32).


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  2. Afshin Amini, Samar Masoumi-Moghaddam, et al. Utility of Bromelain and N-Acetylcysteine
  3. 20 Daily Mail Online, Is bromelain a wonder cure for joints
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  7. 26 Medline Plus, Sinusiti
  8. University of Maryland Medical Center, Sinusitis
  9. 19, 30, Bromelain
  10. Marie Claire, Here's Everything You Need to Know About How to Induce Your Period
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  13. Marc Matsumoto, PBS Food, Learn Three Techniques for Tenderizing Meat
  14. US National Library of Medicine, Anti-plaque and anti-gingivitis effect of papain, bromelain, miswak
  15. 27 U.S. National Library of Medicine, Cytotoxic effects of bromelain in humans gastrointestinal carcinoma cell lines
  16. Cancer Research UK, Alternative Cancer Diets
  17. U.S. National Library of Medicine, Inhibition of Adipogenesis and Induction of Apoptosis and Lipolysis by Stem Bromelain in 3T3-L1 Adipocytes
  18. HealthLine, Do You Have a Pineapple Allergy? Learn the Symptoms 22 University of Maryland Medical Center, Bromelain
  19. AARP: Real Possibilities, Pineapple Bromelain
  20. Natural Standard, Natural Standard Herb and Supplement Guide
  21. Deerland Enzymes, Therapeutic Use, Efficiency and Safety of the Proteolytic Pineapple Enzyme
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  23., Bromelain
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