Bromelain: Benefits, Dosage Suggestions, and Associated Risks

Bromelain is a digestive enzyme naturally extracted from pineapple. It’s been used as medicine for centuries, and now can be taken as a supplement to aid digestion and to fight inflammation. Here’s important information to know before taking it for your health.

7 minute read

Last Updated July 31, 2020

Bromelain: Benefits, Dosage Suggestions, and Associated Risks

Bromelain is an enzyme that is found naturally in the fruit and juice of the pineapple. This enzyme extract has been used for centuries to treat different ailments, mostly throughout Central and South America. 

Modern medicine now recognizes the importance of bromelain for health, and it is now a widely accepted supplement. Bromelain is currently used to treat inflammation naturally and to support a healthy digestive system.

Bromelain for Better Digestion

As a digestive enzyme that is responsible for the digestion of proteins, bromelain is an essential component of a healthy digestive system. Bromelain can support digestion by making sure that proteins are digested and the amino acids produced are absorbed as needed. This enzyme also helps support the absorption of other nutrients and medications. 

Bromelain provides healing for damaged or inflamed digestive tracts. Gastrointestinal issues such as colitis and irritable bowel syndrome can cause chronic inflammation of the gut. This causes uncomfortable symptoms and interferes with nutrient absorption. 

Bromelain reduces the production of pro-inflammatory chemicals, thus reducing inflammation associated with these digestive issues. In this way, bromelain can help with:

Inflammatory bowel diseases: Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease are inflammatory bowel diseases characterized by inflammation along the digestive tract. Without treatment, these can increase the risk of colon cancer. As many nutrients are absorbed in the large intestine, and this inflammation can interfere with this process. Over time, this can cause malnutrition and serious illness as a result of the body not having the nutrients it needs. Bromelain naturally fights and reduces inflammation, which can protect the colon from the damage associated with these diseases. 

Heartburn: Heartburn is caused by excess stomach acid rising through the esophagus. The delicate tissues along the esophagus become irritated and inflamed when in contact with the harsh acid. This causes a burning and painful sensation in the chest. Beyond being uncomfortable, prolonged acid reflux can damage the esophagus. Bromelain is an acidic compound, but it has an alkalizing effect that benefits individuals with acid reflux. 

Constipation: Constipation is one of the most common digestive issues in the United States, affecting close to 2.5 million people. Inadequate consumption of water is a leading cause of constipation, as is a lack of fiber in the diet. It can also occur as a result of a slowed digestive system. Enzymes, like bromelain, help to speed the digestive process, breaking down proteins as soon as they enter the mouth. Individuals eating a high-protein diet can benefit from bromelain supplements to help keep things moving and to promote healthy bowel movements. 

Stomach ulcers caused by bacterial infection: Some bacteria in the intestines are harmful, such as E. coli. These harmful microorganisms cause inflammation, damage to intestinal tissues, and ulcers. In addition to ulcers, these bacteria can cause chronic diarrhea, which can result in dehydration. Bromelain has been shown to reduce the effects of bacteria like E. coli, thereby reducing the risk of ulcers and intestinal damage. 

Additional Benefits of Bromelain

Traditionally, bromelain was used to treat several ailments, specifically those related to inflammation. Today, bromelain is primarily taken to support digestion, and studies have proven its benefits in this area. 

Additional benefits that bromelain can provide for you include:

Relieve osteoarthritis: The anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties of bromelain have been shown to treat pain, swelling, and stiffness associated with osteoarthritis. Four hundred milligrams twice daily is recommended for effective relief for osteoarthritis.

Treat heart disease: Bromelain inhibits the aggregation of platelets, which can reduce clots that cause cardiovascular problems. Studies have found that the enzyme is effective at treating heart attack, stroke, and high blood pressure. 

Burn relief: When applied topically, bromelain cream is highly effective at reducing pain and removing damaged tissue from burn wounds. 

Treat asthma: Studies have found that the anti-inflammatory properties of bromelain are beneficial for individuals with asthma and other inflammatory-related airway diseases.

Fight cancer: Bromelain has the ability to control key pathways involved in cancer growth. This gives it a positive impact on stopping malignancy.

Taking Bromelain

Bromelain is typically taken as a pill or tablet, but you can also find it as a cream for topical use. 

Pineapples contain the digestive enzyme naturally, but the fruit and juice do not contain enough of the enzyme to be effective. The larger doses available in supplements are required for maximum health benefits. 

As with any supplement, consult your doctor before starting. Bromelain is a natural compound, but it can still interact with other supplements and medications.

Bromelain supplements are measured in gelatin digesting units (GDUs) per gram. Your doctor will recommend the right dose for you, but generally, doses are between 80 and 400 milligrams per serving. Supplements are typically taken two to three times daily. To fight inflammation, it works better on an empty stomach, but as a digestive aid, you want to take with meals.

Risks Associated With Bromelain

Bromelain is considered generally safe for supplemental use, but discuss this with your doctor first. Some mild side effects have been reported, such as nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, and heavier menstrual bleeding. 

Do not take bromelain if you currently take blood thinners because the digestive enzyme has an anti-platelet effect. It can increase the risk of excessive bleeding when combined with these medications, which is why it should also not be used before and after surgery. 

This enzyme can also increase the effects of certain medications like antibiotics and anti-seizure drugs. Bromelain should also be avoided if you have an allergy to pineapple.

The Bottom Line

Bromelain is a beneficial digestive enzyme that is naturally extracted from pineapple. It has been used to treat ailments for centuries and has been proven by modern medicine to have significant and positive results for health. 

Bromelain is an important enzyme involved in promoting a healthy digestive system, and it can prevent common digestive issues. It can also fight inflammation, topically treat burns, and fight cancer.

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