Bromelain

Plant Part Used

Proteolytic enzymes derived from pineapple stem.

Introduction

The supplement scientists refer to as bromelain is actually comprised of enzymes derived from the stem of the pineapple plant. These enzymes have been used for years as a meat tenderizer, among other things, in the food industry. Meanwhile, bromelain may offer a wide array of health benefits for humans, including use as a digestive aid, an anti-inflammatory and wound-healing agent, and to support cardiovascular and circulatory health.

Interactions and Depletions

Interactions

Dosage Info

Dosage Range

1-3 of the 500mg tablets, 3-4 times a day taken 30 minutes before meals.

Topically: Applied topically as a cream (35% bromelain in a lipid base); not recommended for more than 8-10 days.

Most Common Dosage

1-2 tablets (250-500mg), 3 times a day taken 30 minutes before meals. For anti-inflammatory benefits, use between meals, 1-3 tablets (250-500mg) up to 4 times a day.

Topically: Applied topically as a cream (35% bromelain in a lipid base); not recommended for more than 8-10 days.

Standardization

Standardization represents the complete body of information and controls that serve to enhance the batch to batch consistency of a botanical product, including but not limited to the presence of a marker compound at a defined level or within a defined range.

The most current available medical and scientific literature indicates that this dietary supplement should be standardized to approximately 2,000 MCU/ tablet.
Note: One GDU (Gelatin Dissolving Unit) is equivalent to 1.5 MCU (Milk Clotting Units).

Reported Uses

One of bromelain's most common applications is in the treatment of inflammation (1) and soft tissue injuries. Studies suggest that it may speed the healing of bruises and localized swelling. (2) What’s more, use of bromelain before surgery may reduce the duration of pain and inflammation after the surgery. (3) , (4) Topical use of bromelain may also accelerate burn and wound healing. (5)

Bromelain’s anti-inflammatory properties may also be of benefit to arthritis sufferers. (6) , (7) , (8) Studies suggest that bromelain supplementation may reduce pain associated with the condition. It may also rival one pharmaceutical treatment for arthritis in its effectiveness. (9)

Bromelain may support healthy blood flow and circulatory health by decreasing the bloods ability to clot and reducing risk factors for recurrent heart attack and/or stroke. (10) , (11) Bromelain may also reduce the severity of angina and support the rhythm and health of the heart muscle. (12) , (13) , (14) Additionally, bromelain may reduce pain and inflammation associated with blood clots. (15)

Bromelain’s next potential benefit involves its use as a digestive aid. It may ease symptoms associated with a variety of digestive disorders. (16) , (17) A related benefit involves use of bromelain as a treatment for stomach ulcers. Scientists think bromelain may enhance healing and regeneration of the mucous lining in the stomach. (18)

Studies suggest that bromelain may also inhibit the growth of cancerous tumors. (19) , (20) Bromelain has also been used to enhance the effectiveness of some chemotherapies. (21)

Other studies suggest that bromelain may enhance the body’s natural immune defenses. (22) , (23) , (24) , (25) , (26) Bromelain has also been used to enhance the effectiveness of certain antibiotic therapies. It may boost the bacteria-fighting properties of antibiotics used to fight pneumonia, bronchitis, sinusitis, and more. (27) , (28) Bromelain may inhibit the body’s production of mucous associated with these and other respiratory illnesses. (29) Finally, bromelain may benefit women who experience breast engorgement. (30)

Toxicities & Precautions

Introduction

Be sure to tell your pharmacist, doctor, or other health care providers about any dietary supplements you are taking. There may be a potential for interactions or side effects.

General

This dietary supplement is considered safe when used in accordance with proper dosing guidelines.

If you are planning to have any type of surgery or dental work, stop using this dietary supplement for at least 14 days prior to the procedure.

Allergy

Some individuals experience an allergic reaction when taking this dietary supplement. A respiratory allergy may occur in sensitive individuals, especially in those who are allergic to bee stings. (31) Call your doctor or seek medical attention if you have fast or irregular breathing, skin rash, hives or itching.

Health Conditions

If you have a bleeding disorder, talk to your doctor before taking this dietary supplement. (32)

Side Effects

Side effects are possible with any dietary supplement. This dietary supplement may cause blood pressure to increase in hypertensive patients. (33) Tell your doctor if these side effects become severe or do not go away.

Pregnancy/ Breast Feeding

To date, the medical literature has not reported any adverse effects related to fetal development during pregnancy or to infants who are breast-fed. Yet little is known about the use of this dietary supplement while pregnant or breast-feeding. Therefore, it is recommended that you inform your healthcare practitioner of any dietary supplements you are using while pregnant or breast-feeding.

Age Limitations

To date, the medical literature has not reported any adverse effects specifically related to the use of this dietary supplement in children. Since young children may have undiagnosed allergies or medical conditions, this dietary supplement should not be used in children under 10 years of age unless recommended by a physician.

References

  1. View Abstract: Walker AF, Bundy R, Hicks SM, Middleton RW. Bromelain reduces mild acute knee pain and improves well-being in a dose-dependent fashion in an open study of otherwise healthy adults. Phytomedicine. Dec2002;9(8):681-6.
  2. Blonstein JL. Control of swelling in boxing injuries. Practitioner. 1960;185:78.
  3. Tassman GC, Zafran JN, Zayon GM. A double-blind crossover study of a plant proteolytic enzyme in oral surgery. J Dent Med. 1965;20:51-54.
  4. Tassman GC, Zafran JN, Zayon GM. Evaluation of a plant proteolytic enzyme for the control of inflammation and pain. J Dent Med. 1964;19:73-77.
  5. Klaue P, Dilbert G, Hinke G, et al. Tier-experimentelle untersuchungen zur enzymatischen lokalbehandlung subdermaler verbrennungen mit bromelain. Therapiewoche. 1979;29:796-799.
  6. View Abstract: Taussig SJ, Batkin S. Bromelain, the enzyme complex of pineapple (Ananas comosus) and its clinical application. An update. J Ethnopharmacol. 1988;27:191-203.
  7. View Abstract: Rovenska E, et al. Enzyme and combination therapy with cyclosporin A in the rat developing adjuvant arthritis. Int J Tissue React. 1999;21(4):105-11.
  8. View Abstract: Rovenska E, Svik K, Stancikova M, Rovensky J. Inhibitory effect of enzyme therapy and combination therapy with cyclosporin A on collagen-induced arthritis. Clin Exp Rheumatol. May2001;19(3):303-9.
  9. View Abstract: Klein G, et al. Reducing pain by oral enzyme therapy in rheumatic diseases. Wien Med Wochenschr. 1999;149(21-22):577-80.
  10. View Abstract: Metzig C, et al. Bromelain proteases reduce human platelet aggregation in vitro, adhesion to bovine endothelial cells and thrombus formation in rat vessels. In Vivo. Jan1999;13(1):7-12.
  11. Heinicke RM, et al. Effect of bromelain (Ananase) on human platelet aggregation. Experientia. Jul1972;28(7):844-5.
  12. Taussig SJ, Nieper HA. Bromelain: its use in prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease, present status. J IAPM. 1979;6:139-151.
  13. Nieper HA. Effect of bromelain on coronary heart disease and angina pectoris. Acta Med Empirica. 1978;5:274-278.
  14. Nieper HA. Decrease of the incidence of coronary heart infarct by Mg- and K-orotate and bromelain. Acta Med Empirica. 1977;12:614-618.
  15. Seligman B. Oral bromelains as adjuncts in the treatment of acute thrombophlebitis. Angiology. 1969;20:22-26.
  16. Knill-Jones RP, et al. Comparative double blind experience of a polyenzymatic preparation in chronic pancreatic insufficiency. Acta Gastroenterol Belg. Sep1973;36(9):489-504.
  17. Knill-Jones RP, Pearce H, Batten J, et al. Comparative trial of Nutrizym in chronic pancreatic insufficiency. Brit Med J. 1970;4:21-24.
  18. Felton G. Does kinin released by pineapple stem bromelain stimulate production of prostaglandin E1-like compounds? Hawaii Med J. 1976;2:39-47.
  19. Taussig SJ, Szekerczes J, Batkin S. Inhibition of tumor growth in vitro by bromelain, an extract of the pineapple plant (Ananas comosus). Planta Med. 1985;6:538-539.
  20. View Abstract: Batkin S, Taussig SJ, Szekerezes J. Antimetastatic effect of bromelain with or without its proteolytic and anticoagulant activity. J Cancer Res Clin Oncol. 1988;114:507-508.
  21. Gerard G. Anti-cancer therapy with bromelain. Agressologie. 1972;13:261-274.
  22. View Abstract: Desser L, Rehberger A, Paukovits W. Proteolytic enzymes and amylase induce cytokine production in human peripheral blood mononuclear cells in vitro. Cancer Biother. 1994;9:253-263.
  23. View Abstract: Desser L, et al. Cytokine synthesis in human peripheral blood mononuclear cells after oral administration of polyenzyme preparations. Oncology. Nov1993;50(6):403-7.
  24. View Abstract: Engwerda CR, Andrew D, Ladhams A, Mynott TL. Bromelain modulates T cell and B cell immune responses in vitro and in vivo. Cell Immunol. May2001;210(1):66-75.
  25. View Abstract: Engwerda CR, Andrew D, Murphy M, Mynott TL. Bromelain activates murine macrophages and natural killer cells in vitro. Cell Immunol. May2001;210(1):5-10.
  26. View Abstract: Brakebusch M, Wintergerst U, Petropoulou T, Notheis G, Husfeld L, Belohradsky BH, et al. Bromelain is an Accelerator of Phagocytosis, Respiratory Burst and Killing of Candida albicans by Human Granulocytes and Monocytes. Eur J Med Res. May2001;6(5):193-200.
  27. Hunter RG, Henry GW, Heinicke RM. The action of papain and bromelain on the uterus. Am J Ob Gyn. 1957;73:867-873.
  28. Neubauer RA. A plant protease for potentiation of and possible replacement of antibiotics. Exp Med Surg. 1961;19:143-160.
  29. View Abstract: Schafer A, Adelman B. Plasmin inhibition of platelet function and of arachidonic acid metabolism. J Clin Invest. 1985;75:456-461.
  30. View Abstract: Snowden HM, Renfrew MJ, Woolridge MW. Treatments for breast engorgement during lactation (Cochrane Review). Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2001;2:CD000046.
  31. View Abstract: Gailhofer G, et al. Asthma caused by bromelain: an occupational allergy. Clin Allergy. Sep1988;18(5):445-50.
  32. Blumenthal: The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines, 1st ed. American Botanical Council. 1998:94-95.
  33. Gutfreund AE, et al. Effect of oral bromelain on blood pressure and heart rate of hypertensive patients. Hawaii Med J. May1978;37(5):143-6.