Most people are familiar with pineapple (Ananas comosus), but did you know it contains proteolytic enzymes? These enzymes can break down proteins, and bromelain is one of these. Bromelain is considered pineapple’s most active constituent, and has been used as a medicine in some tropical and subtropical cultures where the plant grows. Discovered in the late 1800’s, it took several years to thoroughly understand the enzyme. Bromelain can be isolated from the whole pineapple plant but is most concentrated in the stem and fruit. It may be most well-known for being anti-inflammatory and helpful with sports injuries, but there is so much more to bromelain.
Bromelain is antibacterial and has been used on oral and intestinal pathogens with positive results. It also exhibits anti-cancer qualities, is useful with wound cleaning, and can be helpful with edema. This enzyme can also help reduce pain from arthritis, exhibiting analgesic properties. Bromelain has been used in research to support cardiovascular disease as well. It helps break down blood clots as well as prevent platelet build-up in the arteries. Additionally, bromelain shows a lot of promise in the dental field where research is still ongoing.
Bromelain has been consumed in large amounts up to twelve grams per day with no noted ill effects. Rarely, digestive upset or mouth sores are possible due to allergy or consuming too much fruit. To take advantage of the enzymatic action of bromelain, it’s best to take it in between meals. It can be taken as a supplement in 40 mg three to four times a day between meals but keep in mind bromelain, typically in 500 mg capsules. You can also eat pineapple-100 grams contains 0.1-1 gram of bromelain. A higher concentration of bromelain is present in the core of the fruit, so that can be added to a smoothie or carefully chewed to get the most bromelain.
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Agrawal, Paridhi et al. 2022. “Bromelain: A Potent Phytomedicine.” Cureus, 14(8): e27876. doi:10.7759/cureus.27876
Pavan, Rajendra et al. 2012. “Properties and Therapeutic Application of Bromelain: A Review.” Biotechnology Research International: 976203. doi:10.1155/2012/976203
Varilla C, Marcone M, Paiva L, Baptista J. 2021. “Bromelain, a Group of Pineapple Proteolytic Complex Enzymes (Ananas comosus) and Their Possible Therapeutic and Clinical Effects. A Summary.” Foods, 10(10):2249. https://doi.org/10.3390/foods10102249
“Pineapple.” Revised May 11, 2023. https://www.drugs.com/npp/pineapple.html