With its sharp leaves and thick skin, the pineapple is as intimidating as a porcupine, yet equally intoxicating because of its juicy, sweet golden flesh.
What most people don’t realize about this tasty fruit, however, is that it’s infinitely more useful to humans than just as a garnish for tropical drinks. It’s literally true medicine!
Pineapple is a South American native and a cherished part of Hawaiian folk medicine. Used widely as a natural remedy to treat everything from indigestion to allergies, it is brimming over with vitamin C, B1, potassium and manganese.
In addition to these phytonutrients, it appears that the secret to its almost supernatural healing power comes from a protein-digesting enzyme called bromelain. In fact, pineapple is one of the richest sources of bromelain in the world.
Bromelain Health Benefits
In the medical world, this fascinating compound has traditionally been used as a potent anti-inflammatory and anti-swelling agent. Additionally, recent studies have showed us that it stops lung metastasis in its tracks, which suggests that bromelain can be used to treat a wide variety of diseases.
Also, because it’s commonly used as a meat tenderizer, bromelain can also help soothe and relaxes tense, inflamed muscles and connective tissue. The widespread healing power of this enzyme is truly remarkable!
When I looked at the scientific literature, I found that bromelain has been used to treat a wide range of health problems including:
- ACL tears
- Arthritis and joint pain
- Autoimmune diseases
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease
- Sinus infections
- Sprained ankles
Of the 1,600 + articles evaluating the medicinal benefits of bromelain, I decided to narrow down this brief review to some of the more important topics because of their prevalence in our society and because of the sheer volume of research that supports its use.
Not just an effective treatment against lung cancer, the journal Anticancer Drugs published the results of a clinical trial this past February that evaluated how bromelain affects malignant peritoneal mesothelioma (MPM) – a rare cancer caused by asbestos exposure.
According to the study, it was uncovered that “The addition of bromelain increased the die off of cancer cells (cytotoxicity) significantly… Bromelain has the potential of being developed as a therapeutic agent in treating malignant cancer.”
To learn more about the Bromelain Cancer treatment, check out my article on the top 10 natural cancer therapies.
2. Digestive Disorders
Because it’s an enzyme that specifically digests proteins, bromelain has been found to help your body digest food and absorb nutrients more efficiently, as well as being extremely effective at healing issues in the gastrointestinal tract:
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease
- Ulcerative Colitis
- Colon Cancer
- Crohn’s Disease
3. Faster Recovery from Surgery and Injury
Just this past July, a study was published that evaluated bromelain’s ability to treat patients just had impacted 3rd molars extracted. Most patients who undergo this surgery experience significant post-operative pain and swelling. Unfortunately, antibiotics and painkillers are not only quite ineffective; they bring with them a slew of side effects.
Of the 80 people participating in the study, those who were prescribing bromelain reported “significantly lower” post-operation pain, swelling and even redness compared to the control group that were prescribed a generic pain killer.
Bromelain’s anti-inflammatory properties make it a great natural replacement to harmful medications like aspirin.
4. Allergies and Asthma
Last year, the journal Evidenced-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine highlighted the results of a study that investigated how bromelain affected mice with asthma. The study produced some interesting results. In addition to showing that bromelain reduces allergic sensitization, it was discovered that the development of allergic airway disease was also markedly decreased.
This is actually quite profound because it suggests that bromelain helps modulate the entire immune system. It was observed in the study that CD11c (+) dendritic cells and DC44 antigen-presenting cells were kept at bay, which proves that bromelain does more than mask the primary immune response that most people suffering from allergies experiences (stuffy/runny nose, itchy eyes and skin, etc.). It can bring actually prevent allergies by addressing the root cause – a hyperactive, over-sensitive immune system!
5. Sinus Infections (Rhinosinusitis)
To see whether or not a daily dose of bromelain (300 FIP units)(600 mg tablet) could help people suffering from chronic sinusitis (inflammation of the sinuses), University of Cologne, Germany researchers recently took 12 patients who had already had sinus surgery and treated them with bromelain for 3 months. They discovered the following bromelain benefits:
- Total symptom scores improved.
- Total rhinoscopy scores improved.
- Overall quality of life was enhanced.
- And no adverse affects were reported.
Because surgery can oftentimes be ineffective at treating sinusitis, this research brings a lot of hope to people suffering from irretraceable sinus problems!
6. Joint Pain
Due to its powerful anti-inflammatory and analgesic characteristics, bromelain is fantastic for acute or chronic joint pain. This past winter, the journal Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine published a research trial that evaluated 42 osteoarthritis patients with degenerative spine or painful joint conditions.
Two 650 mg capsules of bromelain were given to the patients 2 – 3 times each day on an empty stomach (depending on whether they had acute or chronic pain) and it was discovered that pain decreased up to 60% for acute situations and more than 50% for chronic disorders!
Bromelain Supplements and Diet
There are 3 primary ways to incorporate bromelain in your natural health regimen:
- Eating the fiber-rich core of a juicy, ripe pineapple is the best way to consume natural sources of bromelain. Keep in mind that the riper the fruit is, the softer the core will be. So, make sure you keep it out on your counter an extra day or two to make sure that you’re not gnawing on a tough stem! Note that the flesh of a pineapple is also good for you, but doesn’t have the high bromelain content like the core does.
- Juicing the core of the pineapple or throwing it into a smoothie along with other vegetables like cucumber. Drinking fresh pineapple juice has been shown to be a powerful remedy against inflammatory diseases. I recommend drinking 4 ounces a day to help prevent digestive issues and up to 8 ounces to treat illnesses like ulcerative colitis, inflammatory bowel disease or constipation.
- Taking a natural bromelain supplement or proteolytic enzyme supplement with bromelain can also be quite effective if you’re targeting some specific inflammatory or chronic disease. If you are trying to improve digestion you will take it with meals but for all other health conditions you will take it on an empty stomach.
Bromelain Dosage and Uses
The most common prescribed dosage for Bromelain is 500mg daily. However for various conditions, many physicians may recommend:
Arthritis – 400mg 1-2x daily
Allergies – 1000mg daily of Bromelain + Quercitin
Cancer – 2000mg+ daily of Bromelain with other proteolytic enzymes
Digestion – 500mg with meals
Surgery Recovery – 1000mg 3x daily between meals
Bromelain should be taken on an empty stomach, unless you are taking it to improve digestion.
Bromelain Side Effects
Because it helps prevent blood clots, be especially careful when consuming extra pineapple or a bromelain supplement if you’re taking blood thinners.
Make sure you get your platelet counts regularly checked by your natural healthcare provider and keep your iron levels up so that you don’t develop a blood thinning disorder.
How about you? Have you used pineapple or bromelain to treat a health condition? How did it work?
†The information in this article is NOT intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice.