These days it’s a challenge to keep up with all the latest supplement crazes that come and go. There’s always something new to try and something else to avoid. Today I’d like to talk to you about bromelain and how you can use it for your health.
Bromelain is an enzyme, specifically a protease enzyme, found in the pineapple stem and fruit. The enzyme found in the stem of the pineapple is the one used in bromelain supplements. This homeopathic remedy that has been used for many years breaks down proteins to form peptides and amino acids in the body. But you won’t get the needed bromelain by upping your intake of pineapple; the bromelain you want the most is in the inedible stem of the plant.
Bromelain is not new on the supplement scene. In fact, bromelain was first used as a medical treatment in 1957 to fight inflammation but was first discovered in Venezuela in 1891 by a chemist, Vicente Marcano. Bromelain is touted for fighting inflammation, blood clots, aiding in digestion, and speeding up healing time from wounds. But is this little known supplement really able to help the body?
Bromelain as an Inflammation Fighter
Inflammation is one of the major players when it comes to many of the chronic diseases facing many in the Western world. Impacting just about every body function, inflammation can cause pain and discomfort everywhere in the body. Finding an all natural, healthy way to fight inflammation is vital to reducing it and living a healthy, pain free, mobile life.
Bromelain was first recognized by the medical community to do just that; fight inflammation. It works on inflammation by blocking metabolites which cause swelling. It also acts to decrease swelling by activating a chemical in the blood that breaks down fibrin thus leading to reduced swelling.
Many naturopathic doctors recommend taking bromelain for anything for which you’d take a common aspirin. Bromelain is often recommended to be taken before surgeries to speed healing time and decrease inflammation commonly associated with surgical procedures.
But bromelain’s impact on the body and inflammation doesn’t end there. Bromelain is used to help heal many sports related injuries too.
Bromelain Reduces Inflammation Associated with:
- Surgery wounds
Bromelain can also help with pain acting as an analgesic. This is thought to be due to its direct action on bradykinin as well as its indirect impact on pain through the reduction of swelling.
Bromelain to Fight Blood Clotting
We hear so often today for those who are at risk for heart attack to take an aspirin a day. But would a once a day bromelain supplement have the same effect? Many researchers think so.
Bromelain fights off blood clotting by stopping platelets from sticking together and to the walls of blood vessels; both vital factors in heart attacks and strokes. The action of bromelain in the body causes a decrease or stoppage in releasing the chemical that encourages platelets to stick.
Taming Temperamental Tummies
When it comes to stomach and digestion problems it seems that at one time or another everyone has struggled with at least one tummy ache. Bromelain can help you to ease the pain in your stomach.
Remember in the beginning I told you that bromelain is a protease enzyme? That means it breaks down proteins. Well if you overeat, especially any meal high in protein, bromelain can come to your rescue. By breaking down proteins bromelain aids the digestive system and reduces the unwanted pain in your belly.
Bromelain has also been indicated as helpful in taming stomach problems in people with ulcerative colitis.
In one study out of Japan it was found that after taking bromelain supplements people with wheat allergies and sensitivities were able to eat wheat products. The studies on bromelain number in the hundreds but more are needed to target exact amounts of bromelain needed.
Normally it’s recommended to take bromelain on an empty stomach but in the case of overeating and digestion issues you can take the bromelain with your meal or after eating.
Bromelain and the Skin
Bromelain works on the skin by speeding healing time and helping with bruising. Bromelain can also really help with exfoliating dead skin cells to reveal healthy, younger skin.
Bromelain can be applied topically to aid in healing the skin from burns, cuts, insect bites, and other problems.
How to Use Bromelain
Now I’ve already told you that the bromelain used in most supplements comes from the inedible stem of the pineapple. This means that if you want to increase your intake of bromelain you’ll have to rely on a supplement.
Bromelain comes in many forms; from tablets and capsules to creams and powders. Depending on what you’re using bromelain to treat, this will determine how much you should take.
It is suggested that the dosages be between 80 mg to 320 milligrams (mg) a day. To be sure how much you should take it’s best to consult with a naturopath doctor or other health care practitioner experienced with supplements, specifically bromelain.
Many times bromelain comes with dosages labeled in either milk clotting units (mcu) or gelatin-dissolving units (gdu). You’ll have to understand how this translates into mgs for your particular situation.
Dr. Axe's Action Steps
- Visit a holistic doctor and/or your local health food store and learn more about bromelain. They should be able to help you translate any confusing labeling so you know exactly how many milligrams come in each tablet or capsule.
- Evaluate your own need for inflammation reduction. Do you take aspirins regularly?
- Consider supplementing with bromelain to reduce inflammation, naturally thin the blood, and aid in digestion.