What is bromelain?
Bromelain is a naturally occurring substance derived from the fruit, juice and stems of pineapples. It is a protein-digesting enzyme mixture, which has been researched extensively. It has several health benefits. It aids in the treatment of multiple health conditions, such as burns, sinus congestion, osteoarthritis, digestive problems, cancer and other medical ailments. It has been used to treat medical ailments for several centuries, especially in Central and South America.
Bromelain can be used topically (applied over the skin) or taken orally. It may be used along with other prescription medications. Bromelain may be good for digestion, removing dead skin cells from burns and reducing inflammation, swelling, muscle soreness, pain and nasal congestion. It is advised to consult with a doctor before taking bromelain. Bromelain is currently categorized as a dietary supplement and generally recognized as safe (GRAS) by the United States Food and Drug Administration (US FDA).
The forms and dosage of bromelain
Bromelain is available in pill or tablet form, which can be taken orally. It’s also available in topical forms, such as creams, to be applied to the skin. Though it’s extracted from pineapple, eating pineapple or drinking pineapple juice would not provide sufficient bromelain to be effective enough to treat a medical condition.
The dosage of bromelain depends on the condition it is being used for. Bromelain is measured in gelatin digesting units (GDUs) per gram. The dose ranges from 80 to 400 mg per serving, two to three times a day. It is important to follow the doctor’s advice on dosage based on the medical condition.
The potential health benefits for bromelain
Bromelain has several health benefits. It may be advised to take it alone or along with other medications. The potential health benefits of bromelain may help in the treatment of several medical conditions. These include
- Osteoarthritis: Bromelain has anti-inflammatory and pain-reducing (analgesic) properties. It can help reduce pain, tissue swelling, joint swelling and joint stiffness associated with osteoarthritis.
- Cardiovascular disease: Bromelain has been found to inhibit the ability of blood platelets to clot, which can help treat heart disease, hypertension (high blood pressure), diseases of the blood vessels and stroke.
- Asthma: Bromelain has anti-inflammatory effects that can be helpful in treating asthma and allergies.
- Chronic sinusitis (chronic rhinosinusitis): Taking bromelain orally is effective at reducing swelling, congestion and other symptoms associated with sinusitis and nasal allergies.
- Colitis: Bromelain can help reduce inflammation and heal mucosal ulcers.
- Burns: Bromelain cream is highly effective at removing damaged tissue from burn wounds (second- and third-degree burns) safely.
- Cancer: Bromelain may be able to help control cancer cell growth. However, it is no substitute for conventional chemotherapy.
What are the side effects and risks of bromelain?
Bromelain is generally safe, but may cause mild side effects in some people, especially if taken in high doses. These include
Those who have pineapple allergy or allergy to grass pollen, latex, celery, fennel, carrots and wheat should avoid taking bromelain. Pregnant women should also avoid bromelain because of its effect on uterus (womb) muscles.
Drug interactions of bromelain
Bromelain can interact with other medications resulting in complications. Hence, it is advised to consult a doctor before taking bromelain and informing them about other medications that a person is taking. Some medications that bromelain can interact with negatively include
- Anticoagulants: Bromelain prevents or slows blood clotting time. Hence, taking blood thinners can further slow down blood clotting time, resulting in bruising or increased bleeding. Blood thinners include warfarin, aspirin, clopidogrel, heparin, diclofenac, ibuprofen, naproxen, etc.
- Antibiotics: Bromelain can reduce or increase the absorption of antibiotics, such as amoxicillin and tetracycline, reducing their efficacy or increasing antibiotic side effects. Taking bromelain with amoxicillin or tetracycline can increase the effects and side effects of amoxicillin or tetracycline.
- Sedatives: Bromelain may make sedatives (anti-seizure medication, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, alcohol, etc.) stronger.
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