Bromelain - Find health with the healing qualities of proteolytic enzymes

Tuesday, September 06, 2011 by: Dr. David Jockers
Tags: bromelain, proteolytic enzymes, health news

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(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)

[Editor`s Note: NaturalNews is strongly against the use of all forms of animal testing. We fully support implementation of humane medical experimentation that promotes the health and wellbeing of all living creatures.]

1.Maurer HR. Bromelain: biochemistry, pharmacology and medical use. Cell & Molec Life Sci. 2001;58:1234-1245. [PubMed]

2.Taussig SJ, Batkin S. Bromelain, the enzyme complex of pineapple (Ananas comosus) and its clinical application. An update. J Ethnopharmacol. 1988;22:191-203. [PubMed]

3.Brien S, Lewith G, Walker A (2004). "Bromelain as a Treatment for Osteoarthritis: a Review of Clinical Studies". Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine: eCAM. 1 (3): 251-257. doi:10.1093/ecam/neh035. PMC 538506. PMID 15841258.
4.Hale LP, Chichlowski M, Trinh CT, Greer PK (2010). "Dietary supplementation with fresh pineapple juice decreases inflammation and colonic neoplasia in IL-10-deficient mice with colitis". Inflamm Bowel Dis 16 (12): 2012-21. PMID 20848493.

5.Majima M, Kawashima N, Hiroshi I, Katori M. Effects of an orally active non-peptide bradykinin B2 receptor antagonist, FR173657, on plasma exudation in rat carrageenin-induced pleurisy. Brit J Pharmacol. 1997;121:723-730. [PMC free article] [PubMed]

6.Ogino M, Majima M, Kawamura M, Hatanaka K, Saito M, Harada Y, Katori M. Increased migration of neutrophils to granulocyte-colony stimulating factor in rat carrageenin-induced pleurisy: roles of complement, bradykinin, and inducible cyclooxygenase-2. Inflamm Res. 1996;45:335-346. [PubMed]

7.Gaciong Z, Paczek L, Bojakowski K, Socha K, Wisniewski M, Heidland A. Beneficial effect of proteases on allograft arteriosclerosis in a rat aortic model. Nephrol Dialysis, Transplant. 1996;11:987-989.

8.Wittenborg A, Bock PR, Hanisch J, Saller R, Schneider B. Comparative epidemiological study in patients with rheumatic diseases illustrated in a example of a treatment with non-steroidal anti- inflammatory drugs versus an oral enzyme combination preparation. Arzneimittel-Forschung. 2000;50:728-738. [PubMed]

9.Brown AC. Lupus erythematosus and nutrition: a review of the literature. J Renal Nutrit. 2000;10:170-183.

10. Akhtar NM, Naseer R, Farooqi AZ, Aziz W, Nazir M. Oral enzyme combination versus diclofenac in the treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee - a double-blind prospective randomized study. Clin Rheumatol. 2004;23:410-415.

11.Secor ER, Jr, Carson WF, IV, Cloutier MM, Guernsey LA, Schramm CM, Wu CA, Thrall RS. Bromelain exerts anti-inflammatory effects in an ovalbumin-induced murine model of allergic airway disease. Clin Immunol. 2005;237:68-75.

12.Rovenska E, Svik K, Stancikova M, Rovensky J. Enzyme and combination therapy with cyclosporin A in the rat developing adjuvant arthritis. Inter J Tiss React. 1999;21:105-111.

13.Thornhill SM, Kelly AM. Natural treatment of perennial allergic rhinitis. Alternative Med Rev. 2000;5:448-454.
14.Hale LP, Greer PK, Trinh CT, Gottfried MR. Treatment with oral bromelain decreases colonic inflammation in the IL-10-deficient murine model of inflammatory bowel disease. Clin Immunol. 2005;116:135-142. [PubMed]

15.Kane S, Goldberg MJ. Use of bromelain for mild ulcerative colitis. Ann Int Med. 2000;132:680. [PubMed]

16.Rovenska E, Svik K, Stancikova M, Rovensky J. Inhibitory effect of enzyme therapy and combination therapy with cyclosporin A on collagen-induced arthritis. Clin ExpRheumatol. 2001;19:303-309.

17.Onken JE, Greer PK, Calingaert B, Hale LP. Bromelain treatment decreases secretion of pro-inflammatory cytokines and chemokines by colon biopsies in vitro. Clin Immunol. 2008 Mar;126(3):345-52. Epub 2007 Dec 21.

18.Fitzhugh DJ, Shan S, Dewhirst MW et al. (2008). Bromelain treatment decreases neutrophil migration to sites of inflammation. Clin Immunol. 128:66-74.

19.Masson M. Bromelain in blunt injuries of the locomotor system. A study of observed applications in general practice. Fortschritte der Medizin. 1995;113:303-306. [PubMed]

20.Buford TW, Cooke MB, Redd LL, Hudson GM, Shelmadine BD, Willoughby DS. Protease supplementation improves muscle function after eccentric exercise. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2009 Oct;41(10):1908-14.

21.Miller PC, Bailey SP, Barnes ME, Derr SJ, Hall EE The effects of protease supplementation on skeletal muscle function and DOMS following downhill running. J Sports Sci. 2004 Apr;22(4):365-72.

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 To find a Maximized Living doctor near you go to

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