Source: The Amazing Healing Powers of Nature, Reader’s Digest
Bromelain is a protein-fighting enzyme found in pineapple that helps with indigestion
Pineapple, as it turns out, is not only a pizza topping or star of the pineapple upside-down cake it’s also used as a treatment for digestive problems and joint pain. Research is ongoing as to whether or not pineapple may also be used as a potential supplementary treatment for allergy-induced asthma attacks and inflammatory bowel disease.
The reason pineapple helps with digestion is because of an enzyme it carries called bromelain. The active compound is best known for its ability to break down proteins’making this enzyme is a popular digestive aid.
In a 2001 study at Chicago’s Northwestern University Medical School, bromelain supplements even improved digestion in people who needed feeding tubes. And in a 2006 rat study at the University of Technology in Sydney, Australia, bromelain also improved gastrointestinal ‘motility”getting the digestive system moving again.
Bromelain also counters inflammation and pain
In laboratory studies, the pineapple enzyme also demonstrates anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effects, in large part, according to a 1988 study at Japan’s Tohoku University, by reducing levels of bradkykinin, a peptide that makes blood vessels swell. As a result, bromelain is a widely used alternative remedy for people with osteoarthritis and soft-tissue injuries, such as from playing sports.
In one 2000 study sponsored by Germany’s Mucos Pharma’manufacturer of a supplement containing bromelain combined with the enzymes trypsin and rutin’people with knee osteoarthritis who took the supplement daily for 4 weeks reported a reduction in pain on a par with study participants who received the pain reliever diclofenac. When researchers from the University of Reading in the United Kingdom reviewed published and unpublished studies of bromelain’s effects on osteoarthritis in 2004, they identified evidence of benefits for knee and hip pain.
If you want to try bromelain
Recommended doses of bromelain extract range from 160 to 1000 milligrams per day, divided into 4 doses. However, a cup of fresh or frozen pineapple may be even better than a pill: in a recent study, that much pineapple had 13 times more active bromelain than a supplement. For osteoarthritis, however, combination supplements containing bromelain, trypsin and rutin have been shown to be an effective treatment.
If you are allergic to kiwi, papaya or natural rubber latex be careful with bromelain and pineapple; and if you’re allergic to pineapple do not take bromelain.
Bromelain may raise bleeding risk if you’re taking aspirin or a blood-thinning drug. Skip it if you’re using an antibiotic in the tetracycline family, as bromelain can increase blood levels of these medications.
Myth busting: bromelain does not cure cancer
Despite the claims of some alternative-medicine experts, bromelain is not a cancer cure. However, there’s evidence that taking it (under a doctor’s guidance) may help ease the painful side effects of standard cancer treatments, especially radiotherapy. In a 2001 study conducted by India’s SGPT Cancer Hospital, people with head and neck cancers treated with radiation who took proteolytic enzymes such as bromelain reported less difficulty swallowing and less inflammation and ulceration of the mouth and digestive system.
Future uses of bromelain
Bromelain’s ability to ease inflammation is now leading researchers to test its abilities against other health conditions, with promising results. In a 2012 University of Connecticut mouse study, bromelain eased inflammation caused by allergy-induced asthma attacks; researcher Eric R Secor Jr says that in the future bromelain may be an effective add-on therapy for easing these attacks in humans.
Meanwhile, Duke University gastroenterology researcher Jane E Onken has recently investigated bromelain’s anti-inflammatory action as a potential therapy for ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, 2 types of inflammatory bowel disease. This test tube study suggests that bromelain discourages the release of inflammatory chemicals called cytokines and chemokines from diseased tissue.