Bromelain is a natural enzyme mixture derived from pineapples that has a long history in folk medicine. It’s also a popular supplement that might have some health benefits.
But it’s not right for everybody. Here’s what you need to know before you take bromelain.
The lowdown on bromelain
Bromelain is an enzyme some people take as a dietary supplement. There’s some science behind its potential health benefits, which may include an ability to help burns heal when used topically and to soothe certain digestive conditions.
Wondering if it’ll work for you? Bromelain is generally considered safe, so most folks are OK to give it a try without worrying about nasty side effects.
FYI: Don’t take bromelain if you’re taking certain medications, such as blood thinners or antibiotics.
Bromelain is a group of enzymes that’s extracted from the fruit, stem, and juice of pineapple plants 🍍.
Some folks claim that it can:
- ease digestive troubles
- relax tight, sore muscles
- treat osteoarthritis symptoms
- reduce swelling and inflammation
There’s some science behind a few of these benefits, but more research is needed to prove they’re legit.
Here’s a breakdown of bromelain’s best (and most science-backed) benefits.
Might help burns heal (when used by a doc)
Bromelain might help if you’re feeling the burn (literally). Research suggests it can help wounds heal when medical professionals use it to remove damaged tissue from burn wounds. There’s also a chance it could enhance tissue regeneration.
FYI: Seek medical attention ASAP if you have a severe burn. Treating a gnarly wound DIY-style can lead to health issues, including infections that could be life threatening.
May help treat chronic sinusitis
Bromelain might stave off the sniffles. A 2016 review found that bromelain may reduce sinus inflammation. And in a 2013 study, participants with chronic sinus inflammation had less chronic congestion and swelling after taking bromelain tablets every day for 3 months.
Could ease an upset stomach
Some peeps take bromelain supplements to relieve digestive symptoms. While there hasn’t been any research on this in humans, some animal studies have shown promising results.
A 2012 review noted that bromelain can fight some effects of diarrhea-causing bacteria like E. coli. And a 2017 study found that bromelain helped improve colitis-related symptoms (like mucosal inflammation) in rats.
May have cancer-fighting abilities
Limited research suggests bromelain might have anticancer effects for some types of cancer. For example, a 2019 test tube study found that bromelain might help fight colorectal cancer. But keep in mind that there’s no evidence yet that bromelain can treat cancer in humans.
Might help symptoms of asthma
Bromelain might have potential for addressing the symptoms of allergic airway diseases like asthma. A 2012 study in mice suggested that bromelain might help reduce airway restriction. But again, we can’t yet conclude that it would have this effect in humans.
Could be good for your joints
Some research suggests that bromelain may help improve quality of life and reduce pain in folks with osteoarthritis. And it may work even better when combined with substances like turmeric and Devil’s Claw.
Might help your heart
Bromelain might even help reduce your risk of blood clots. A 2012 review noted that this enzyme mixture can potentially prevent:
- heart attack
- high blood pressure
- peripheral artery disease
Bromelain can come in cream, capsule, powder, or tablet form. The typical dosage is 200 to 800 milligrams, two or three times a day.
Researchers haven’t set a recommended amount of bromelain to take on the daily.
Bromelain supplements are generally recognized as safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. But there are some potential side effects to keep in mind.
There haven’t been many reported side effects from bromelain, but high doses can lead to issues such as an upset stomach and diarrhea.
If you have a sensitivity or allergy to pineapple, taking bromelain could be unpleasant or downright dangerous.
In extreme cases it can cause anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction that can be life threatening.
Bromelain doesn’t always mix well with meds. It can interact with sedatives, antibiotics, and anticoagulants (blood thinners). Here are the drug deets.
Bromelain can bump up the amount of amoxicillin or tetracycline (the active ingredients in antibiotics) that your body absorbs. This might lead to increased antibiotic side effects such as:
- loss of appetite
- stomach pain
Anticoagulants (blood thinners)
Bromelain has an antiplatelet effect. That means it can increase the time it takes your blood to clot. You may want to avoid it if you’re already taking any of these blood-thinning medications:
- clopidogrel (Plavix)
- warfarin (Coumadin)
- enoxaparin (Lovenox)
Bromelain is an enzyme that’s extracted from pineapples. Lots of people take it as a dietary supplement to reduce inflammation. Studies also suggest it can help heal burns and wounds when used as a topical cream.
Bromelain is generally considered safe, but it can cause side effects if you take too much. There’s also a chance it can interact with certain medications, such as antibiotics, blood thinners, and sedatives.
Keep in mind: Bromelain isn’t a cure-all. While some studies suggest it has health benefits, more research is needed to prove it really works.