Bromelain. Fight Off Illness & Support Your Digestive Health

Updated: 12/20/23

Are you looking for a natural way to boost your immune system and improve your digestive health? Well, look no further because today we’re diving into the wonderful world of bromelain. You may have heard of this enzyme before but never fully understood its benefits. Get ready to be amazed as we explore how bromelain can help you fight off illness and support your overall well-being. Whether you’re dealing with a pesky cold, struggling with digestive issues, or simply want to give your body the extra support it needs, bromelain might just be the game-changer you’ve been waiting for. So, let’s get to it and uncover the secrets of this powerful enzyme!

What is Bromelain?

Bromelain is a mixture of enzymes that are found in the stem and fruit of pineapples. This natural nutrient has been used for centuries in traditional medicine, such as in South and Central America, for its anti-inflammatory and digestive properties. Bromelain is also used as a supplement in the United States as it has been shown to provide many health benefits.

It is a mixture of proteolytic enzymes in pineapples, mainly concentrated in the stem and the fruit’s core. It is a natural anti-inflammatory supplement that breaks down protein molecules within the body. Inflammation is an immune response to an infection or injury. Bromelain works by reducing the inflammation that occurs by neutralizing the cytokines that are produced when the immune system is activated. It plays an important role in digestion by breaking down protein-rich foods, which is why it is often in use as a digestive aid.

As mentioned above, bromelain was traditionally in use in South and Central America for its health benefits. However, the scientific study of bromelain didn’t begin until the nineteenth century. In 1891, bromelain was officially recognized by the scientific community and its various medicinal properties were widely researched. Bromelain was later used during World War II to help aid in the healing of wounded soldiers. Today, bromelain has wide recognition as an enzyme that has been researched and in use in health and wellness applications worldwide.

Bromelain Extract Benefits

May Reduce Inflammation

One of the most significant benefits ofit is its anti-inflammatory properties. The enzymes in this extract help reduce swelling and inflammation throughout the body, making it the perfect natural remedy for those suffering from conditions like arthritis or joint pain.

May Aid in Digestion

It helps break down proteins in the digestive system, making it easier for the body to absorb nutrients. This can help people who suffer from digestive issues like bloating, constipation, or irritable bowel syndrome.

May Boost Immune System

The powerful enzymes in it shows to enhance the immune system’s function. This means it can help fight off infections and illnesses, making it a great supplement during cold and flu season.

May Enhance Athletic Performance

It shows to enhance athletic performance by reducing muscle soreness and helping to speed up recovery after exercise. It’s a great supplement for both professional athletes and weekend warriors.

May Offer Cardiovascular Benefits

Research finds that it can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by lowering blood pressure levels and improving circulation throughout the body.

May Help Treat Cancer

Although more research is necessary, preliminary studies suggest that bromelain extract may have cancer-fighting properties. It shows to interfere with the growth of tumors in animals and may be a potential natural treatment for cancer.

May Help Treat Sinus Issues

It shows to reduce inflammation in the sinuses, making it an effective natural remedy for people who suffer from sinus issues like sinusitis or allergies.

Benefits Skin Health

The anti-inflammatory properties of bromelain extract make it an excellent natural remedy for people suffering from conditions like eczema, acne, or psoriasis. It shows to reduce redness and inflammation in the skin and may even help improve the texture and appearance of the skin.

Assists with Weight Loss

It shows to have thermogenic properties, meaning it helps the body burn more calories and fat. This can be especially helpful for people who are trying to lose weight.

May Aid in Wound Healing

Some research shows that bromelain extract may help speed up the healing process for wounds or injuries. It can help reduce inflammation and improve circulation in the affected area, leading to faster healing times.

Bromelain benefits infographic

Bromelain Side Effects

Allergic Reactions

It can cause allergic reactions in some people. If you are allergic to pineapples, it is advisable to avoid bromelain as it can trigger an allergic response. Symptoms of an allergic reaction include skin rash, itching, redness, swelling, hives, and difficulty breathing. If you experience any of these symptoms after taking bromelain, seek medical attention immediately.

Stomach Upset

Another potential side effect of bromelain is digestive discomfort. Some people may experience diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, or abdominal pain after taking bromelain supplements. These symptoms are usually mild and go away on their own. However, if you experience severe or persistent digestive issues, you should stop taking bromelain and seek medical advice.

Menstrual Bleeding

Some studies suggest that bromelain may increase menstrual bleeding in women. If you have heavy periods or are taking blood-thinning medications, you should avoid bromelain as it can increase the risk of bleeding. If you notice increased bleeding or other menstrual changes after taking bromelain, consult your doctor.

Skin Irritation

It can also cause skin irritation in some people. Direct contact with bromelain can result in skin rash, itching, redness, and blistering. If you come into contact with bromelain, wash the affected area with soap and water immediately to avoid further irritation. If you experience severe skin symptoms or have a history of skin sensitivity, avoid bromelain use altogether.

Drug Interactions

It can interact with certain medications, including blood thinners, antibiotics, and sedatives. If you are taking any prescription or over-the-counter medications, consult your doctor before taking bromelain to avoid adverse interactions. Bromelain can increase the effects of some medications or decrease their effectiveness, leading to unwanted side effects.

Bromelain Dosage

Because bromelain is a mixture of active, proteolytic enzymes, we want to pay attention to the measure of enzymatic activity. These strength measurements, usually written in MDU, or GDU, describe the level of enzyme activity in the supplement you are purchasing. MCU is the most common in use and stands for milk clotting units. You may also see GDU, which stands for gelatin dissolving units, or standardized RU, or Rorer’s units.

Unfortunately, these three measures aren’t equivalent. 1 MCU is equal to 1.5 GDU in measurement, so they don’t translate 1:1. RU’s are more obscure and refers to a standardized therapeutic unit used in the past. The RU measure for bromelain is less common nowadays on product labels.

Lastly, you’ll notice that the capsules or tablets have a weight listed, usually in milligrams. This weight tells you how big each tablet or pill is going to be. Strong supplements typically exceed at least 2,000 MCU per gram. Most doctors recommend 3,000 MCUs taken 3 times a day for a couple of days to start. Then, you can transition to taking 2,000 MCUs 3 times a day.

Where to Buy Bromelain

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The Bottom Line

Bromelain is a powerful enzyme that provides numerous health benefits. From reducing inflammation to boosting digestion and immune system, bromelain is one of the most important supplements you can add to your daily routine. Its ability to support weight loss and improve skin health makes it even more appealing to individuals who are looking to improve their overall health. So, if you haven’t tried it yet, there’s no better time than now to start reaping its amazing benefits.

While bromelain is generally safe, it’s important to be aware of its potential side effects. Before taking it, consult with your healthcare provider, especially if you have any underlying health conditions or take medications regularly. If you experience any adverse reactions after using bromelain, stop using it immediately and seek medical attention. By doing so, you can safely enjoy the benefits of this natural and effective supplement.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. 

Author: Ryan Quigley
Graduate of Longwood University in Virginia. Part-time sports journalist covering the Vegas Golden Knights.