The Health Benefits of Bromelain
Originally isolated in the late 1800s, bromelain can play a key role in digestion, and perhaps more importantly, its properties have prompted many practitioners to use it as an agent in wound healing and the prevention of infection and inflammation for decades.
Bromelain is a protein-digesting (proteolytic) enzyme complex found in the fruit and, in higher concentrations, in the stem of the pineapple (Ananas comosus). It is able to hydrolyze or break down a wide variety of protein types in a range of both acid and alkaline environments.
What Does Bromelain Do?
Put simply, bromelain breaks down protein. This has fairly obvious benefits when you consider that many of the foods you eat contain high amounts of protein and they have been thoroughly cooked, destroying most of the naturally-occurring enzymes. As a proteolytic enzyme it assists the body’s own digestive mechanisms in reducing very large, complex protein molecules into smaller peptide units or individual amino acids.
These smaller components are crucial for your own production of muscle, neurotransmitters, and other protein-based molecules that your body produces. Many of bromelain’s benefits; however, are actually based on absorption of the intact enzyme in the small intestine; it is this absorption makes possible its systemic effects such as reducing inflammation.
The Health Benefits of Bromelain
Traditionally societies in South America have used pineapples to reduce digestive upset and reduce inflammation.. Here are some of the other amazing health benefits of this enzyme, as well as the studies that support the benefits of bromelain:
- Swelling & Inflammation
Bromelain was approved in Europe as an effective remedy for swelling and inflammation after surgery. Research shows that the bromelain enzyme may lower swelling, stop bruising, speed up healing time, and reduce pain in individuals following surgical procedures.
One double-blind study of over 150 women who received episiotomies (surgical cuts in the perineum) during childbirth, found that women given high doses of oral bromelain over a period of 3 days, beginning 4 hours after delivery, showed a huge decrease in swelling, inflammation, and pain. Ninety percent of women taking the supplement showed excellent recovery compared to 44% of women in the placebo group.
- Arthritis & Sinus Pain
Bromelain is one of the most popular supplements in European countries such as Germany, where it is commonly used for arthritis and sinus pain. Some research suggests that bromelain was as effective as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) medications in lowering pain and inflammation related to arthritis.
- Topical Applications for Burns
Due to its antiseptic and anti-inflammatory capacities, bromelain is currently being studied for topical applications for burns. Recent lab studies on animals show that bromelain helps slough off dead tissue from third-degree burns. Other studies show its effective topical use in people with second- and third-degree burns.
- Insect Bites & Stings
Bromelain may be applied topically to lower swelling and reduce pain associated with insect bites and stings.
- Reduced Inflammation After Sports Injuries
Studies shows that bromelain may speed up healing time after a physical or sports injury. Taking it has been linked to reduced inflammation related to sprains, strains, bruises, tendinitis, as well as other minor muscle injuries.
Bromelain may also help relieve mild pain related to osteoarthritis. In fact, it is a common ingredient in most natural supplements for arthritic pain relief.
- Varicose Veins & Hemorrhoids
This enzyme has been used in alternative medicine for the reduction of chronic venous insufficiency, varicose veins, hemorrhoids, and other conditions of the veins.
There are several studies that suggest bromelain may help reduce coughing and lessen mucus related to sinusitis, as well as reduce the swelling and inflammation that goes with hay fever. The German Commission E approved the bromelain enzyme for aiding imbalances of the ear, nose and throat that occur after surgery. It is also approved for reducing general sinus infection swelling.
- Indigestion & Heartburn
Because of its protease capacities, this enzyme may reduce indigestion and heartburn. Studies show that it is particularly effective when used in combination with other enzymes like amylase (which digests carbohydrates) and lipase (which digests fat). Other studies show its ability to reduce bloating, gas and other symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.
- Helps Balance the Acidity of the Stomach
Research shows that Bromelain can help balance the acidity of the stomach, as well as the alkalinity of the small intestine. A recent lab study confirms that the antibacterial effects of this enzyme may help ease bacteria-related diarrhea associated with E. coli infections. Another study suggests that it may be an up-and-coming alternative remedy for IBD (inflammatory bowel disease)
- May Boost Overall Immune Strength
Bromelain may boost overall immune strength in the human body. One German clinical study of 16 breast cancer patients found that oral supplementation of bromelain could help stimulate immune function in women. Other studies suggest that it may also boost the amount of certain immune system hormones, called cytokines (made in our white blood cells). Recent studies suggest that bromelain may help relieve some of the standard cancer side effects related to lowered immunity.
- May Stop Blood Platelets From Clotting
Several laboratory and animal studies suggest that bromelain may stop blood platelets from clotting. This is exciting research in the direction of its effects on heart health.
- May Help Bronchitis, Pneumonia & Urinary Tract Infections
Animal studies suggest that bromelain possesses anti-viral and anti-bacterial effects, and it may be effective for bronchitis, pneumonia, and urinary tract infections.
About the author
Dr. Edward F. Group III has his Naturopathic Doctorate, Clinical Herbalist, Holistic Health Practitioner, Clinical Nutritionist certifications, and is a Diplomate of the American Clinical Board of Nutrition and the American Board of Functional Medicine. He founded Global Healing Center Inc. in 1998 which has earned recognition as one of the largest alternative, natural and organic health resources on the Internet.
A dynamic author and speaker, Dr. Group focuses solely on spreading the message of health and wellness to the global community with the philosophy of full body cleansing, most importantly colon cleansing, consuming pure clean organic food, water, air, exercise and nutritional supplementation. Visit GlobalHealingCenter.com to learn more about living green and healthy!