(NaturalNews) Pineapples have long had a tradition for their healing qualities among the natives of Central and South America. Bromelain is a powerful proteolytic enzyme from the juice and stems of pineapples. It is very helpful for aiding the digestive processes. It has also shown very powerful anti-inflammatory properties that have caught the attention of nutritional researchers.
Bromelain can refer to either of 2 enzymes: Stem Bromelain and Fruit Bromelain. These are referred to as sulfhydryl proteases since a cysteine side-chain of free sulfhydryl group is present in the structure. The stem form is the most common commercial source due to the wide availability after the fruit is harvested. (1-2)
Bromelain has been used as a therapeutic supplement since 1957. Research was first conducted in Hawaii but has now spread around the world. Germany is the most involved in research on this unique nutrient. Bromelain is currently the thirteenth most used herbal supplement in Germany. (1-2)
Bromelain has shown through a number of research studies to be effective at modulating inflammation and lessening the severity of a number of inflammatory based diseases. These include multiple sclerosis, pleurisy, arteriosclerosis, osteoarthritis, ulcerative colitis, rheumatoid arthritis and allergic asthma. (3-16)
Bromelain is also great at relieving sinus congestion. Bromelain has been shown to ease congestion, reduce nasal mucous and heal areas of swelling by mediating the inflammation caused by infection or hay fever. The German Commission E approved bromelain for the treatment of sinus and nasal swelling following ear, nose, and throat surgery or trauma.
Bromelain has been shown to remove certain CD128 receptors for interleukin-8 (IL-8). IL-8 is an immune cell that stimulates neutrophil activation. Increased neutrophil activation is associated with increased inflammation. By modulating the receptors for IL-8, bromelain helps control this immune reaction. Other studies have shown bromelain to effectively reduce other known inflammatory prostaglandins, cytokines, and chemokines. (17, 18)
Bromelain has shown itself to be comparable to strong anti-inflammatory drugs such as dexamethasone and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents (NSAIDs). While these medications can be addictive and have very dangerous side effects, bromelain is non-addictive and side effects happen less often than what occurs with these medications.
Most common side effects associated with bromelain include nausea, diarrhea and indigestion. Other side effects include tachycardia, fatigue and heavy menstruation. People with allergies to pineapple should avoid bromelain. Allergic reactions may also occur in people who are intolerant to celery, fennel, carrot, papain, & latex. People with peptic ulcers should not use bromelain either.
Bromelain and supplements utilizing this enzyme are particularly useful for athletes and people involved in intense exercise. Although studies show mixed results, bromelain may reduce swelling, bruising, healing time, and pain following surgery and physical injuries. It is often used to reduce inflammation associated with tendinitis, sprains and strains, and with other minor muscle injuries such as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). (19,20)
DOMS is the typical muscle soreness associated with an intense bout of exercise. Athletes and lay people frequently encounter DOMS as they alternate training frequency, intensity and time periods. A 2004 study showed that bromelain in combination with other proteolytic enzymes significantly reduced DOMS in downhill runners. (21)
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About the author
Dr. David Jockers owns and operates Exodus Health Center in Kennesaw, Ga. He is a Maximized Living doctor. His expertise is in weight loss, customized nutrition & exercise, & structural corrective chiropractic care. For more information go to www.exodushc.com To find a Maximized Living doctor near you go to www.maximizedliving.com