Bromelain is a combination of proteolytic enzymes. There are three main proteolytic enzymes that are produced naturally in the digestive system. The function of proteolytic enzymes is to break down long-chain protein molecules from food into peptides and amino acids. Bromelain is a mixture1 of thiol endopeptidases and protease inhibitors as well as cellulase, escharase, peroxidase, glucosidase and phosphatase. All of these components play an important part in digestion.
Traditional Health Benefits of Bromelain
Bromelain enzymes originate from the well-known pineapple plant which is originally from Brazil, but is now grown in a variety of regions for its widely popular fruit. This powerful mixture can be found in the stem, leaves, fruit and even peel. The body is able to absorb bromelain without stripping1 it of its proteolytic properties. This characteristic is one of the main reasons it is considered to have numerous medical benefits.
What is Bromelain Used For?
Bromelain may have numerous benefits to the body, including the following: Reduces Sinus Inflammation, Lowers the Risk of Blood Clots, Increases Joint Mobility and Relieves Pain and Swelling
Products Containing Bromelain
Benefits of Bromelain
Over the years, bromelain has shown to have a variety of medical benefits. Studies reveal that bromelain is beneficial to individuals2 with angina pectoris, bronchitis, sinusitis (inflammation of the lining of the sinuses), thrombophlebitis and pyelonephritis. It can also help those who have been diagnosed with certain cancers or have undergone surgical trauma. A study published in the International Journal of Nutrition and Food Sciences3 states that the consumption of bromelain can reduce the risk of developing blood clots. This mixture of proteolytic enzymes actually functions as a natural blood-thinner and therefore offers heart health benefits in both the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular health issues. Those who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis or even osteoporosis experience inflammation of the joints which reduces mobility and results in pain. These individuals can benefit from bromelain4 because it reduces inflammation and pain caused by arthritis and osteoporosis. It can also increase mobility. One study showed that bromelain relieves pain, swelling, post-surgery complications, and offers a better quality of life to individuals who have hematologic tumors and third molar extraction during chemotherapy.5 It is important to mention that bromelain has been shown to have cancer-preventing properties as well.
How to Use Bromelain
Bromelain can be used in a variety of forms depending on preference and goals. The different forms include food, tablets, capsules, powders and creams. Bromelain is most commonly taken orally. However, for wounds and burns, it can be applied to the skin6 in the form of a paste or a cream. Bromelain creams speed up the healing process of skin wounds and burns. After much research, studies conclude that bromelain is safe7 and most people do not experience any side effects due to the consumption of bromelain. Those who do experience side effects, most likely are experiencing sensitivity or an allergy. These symptoms most commonly include nausea, diarrhea and possible dizziness. Each person's body is different so the signs of an allergy or sensitivity may vary. It is important to note that since bromelain naturally possesses blood-thinning qualities4 if you are already on blood thinners, the effectiveness could be amplified. If you have any medical concerns, contact your health care provider so that he or she can conduct a thorough evaluation and check for possible underlying medical conditions. A licensed medical doctor is the only person who can deliver a definitive diagnosis.
Supplementing with Bromelain
When given the choice, most people will choose natural options versus traditional medicines. Natural sources tend to carry the risk of less unwanted side-effects. Bromelain has medicinal properties comparable to NSAIDs making them effective for the reduction of pain and swelling as well as a variety of additional medical benefits and aiding in the process of digestion. Macronutrients are important, but sometimes it is the smallest substances that end up making the biggest difference in how you feel in your day-to-day life. Dietary supplements can be the difference between feeling good and feeling great. Feeling great directly translates into a higher quality of life. Living a healthy life is a combination of feeling good physically, emotionally and mentally. Feeling good on the inside leads to a higher level of confidence and increased self-esteem and motivation. This leads to better relationships with your partner, family and friends as well as a better experience in the workplace.
Foods that Contain Bromelain
The highest source of bromelain is the pineapple plant. Pineapple can be eaten by itself or incorporated into a variety of dishes and drinks. Common dishes include pineapple bake, Hawaiian pizza, fruit salads, sandwiches, ham dishes, smoothies and adult beverages. Most people either love or hate pineapple. If you fall into the latter category, there are alternative options. Bromelain breaks down proteins which makes it a great cooking aid. It is very popular as a meat tenderizer and can be either incorporated into a marinade or sauce. It can also be applied directly to the piece of meat. Dietary supplements in the form of powders, tablets and capsules are available to those who either do not consume desired quantities in their diets or are looking to consume additional bromelain for its health benefits.
Citations and Sources
1. Pavan R, Jain S, Shraddha, Kumar A. Properties and therapeutic application of bromelain: a review. Biotechnol Res Int. 2012;2012:976203. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23304525. 2. Maurer H. Bromelain: biochemistry, pharmacology and medical use. Cell Mol Life Sci. 2001;58(9):1234-1245. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11577981. 3. Nutritional Value and Medicinal Benefits of Pineapple . International Journal of Nutrition and Food Sciences. https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/3d51/9765af232d4bd9c21b8a86ec282aed59cd44.pdf. Accessed April 22, 2019. 4. Bromelain for Arthritis | Pineapple Bromelain | Pineapple, Ananas comosus. Arthritis Foundation. https://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/treatments/natural/supplements-herbs/guide/bromelain.php. Accessed April 22, 2019. 5. Tan Y, Li P. Bromelain has significant clinical benefits after extraction of the third molar during chemotherapy in patients with hematologic tumor. Oncol Lett. 2018;15(3):2962-2966. [PubMed] 6. Bromelain. NCCIH. https://nccih.nih.gov/health/bromelain. Published August 19, 2014. Accessed April 22, 2019. 7. NOPR: Bromelain: An Overview. NISCAIR. http://nopr.niscair.res.in/handle/123456789/5694. Accessed April 22, 2019.
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