BROMELAIN ENZYME (Ananas comusus)

Latin: Ananas comusus (source)

WHAT IT DOES: Bromelain is pungent and slightly sweet in taste, with a strong long-lasting penetrating quality.  It reduces inflammation and breaks up mucus, improves digestion and absorption, speeds wound healing, and helps fight tumors.

RATING: Silver, due to minor limitations in usage

SAFETY ISSUES: Do not use if taking anti-coagulant (blood-thinning) medicines.  Do not exceed suggested dosage unless prescribed by a physician.  High dose or too frequent use may irritate intestinal membranes.  

• Pills: one to two 500 mg.  pills (standardized to 2000 GDU’s (a measure of protein-digesting capacity) twice per day between meals

Bromelain is an herbal extract of digestive-enhancing enzymes, derived from the stem of pineapple, that has been used as a medicine since 1957.  Several hundred scientific papers have appeared in the medical literature supporting its use for various problems (Murray and Pizzorno 1989).  It is important to understand that bromelain’s digestive/enzymatic action takes place both in the digestive system and the blood.

Your blood coagulates when a special protein named fibrinogen converts to the more elastic fibrin.  Bromelain inhibits blood coagulation by both inhibiting fibrinogen and breaking down fibrin (Lotz-Winter H, 1990).  It also blocks the formation of several pro-inflammatory compounds, and exhibits strong mucolytic (mucus-reducing) activity as well (Taussig & Batkin 1988).  When I see patients who cannot overcome chronic infections and are on antibiotics continuously, I give them bromelain to enhance the antibiotic’s effectiveness and cross this impasse.

Because of its unique group of actions, we use bromelain at our clinic as an all-purpose anti-inflammatory and to speed wound healing, especially in patients with poor digestion or those recovering from recent trauma, surgical or otherwise.  It is useful in angina, arthritis, athletic injury, connective tissue inflammation, fibrosis, bronchitis, burns, cellulitis, dysmenorrhea, edema, bruising, poor digestion, pancreatic insufficiency, pancreatitis, pneumonia, scleroderma, sinusitis, staph infections, post-surgical trauma, and thrombophlebitis.  I consider bromelain second only to tian chi root for speeding recovery from trauma.  Both can be used together as an effective combination.

Research Highlights:

• Bromelain reduces edema, bruising, wound-healing time and pain following surgery (Howat RC et al., 1972, Murray and Pizzorno, 1989).

• Bromelain has direct anti-cancer effects, originally attributed to its ability to digest the protein coatings surrounding tumors.  However, recent evidence indicates it may also strengthen the ability of monocytes to attack target cancer cells (Eckert K et al., 1999). It thus may be used as part of enzymatic treatment for cancer.
• Bromelain’s digestion-enhancing quality increases the serum levels and effectiveness of several antibiotics (Smyth RD et al., 1968, Zimmermann I et al., 1978), and is almost as effective by itself as an antibiotic treatment for sinusitis, bronchitis, pneumonia, and staph infections (Seltzer 1967, Weiss S et al., 1972).