Bromelain (Ananas Comosus)

Medical Uses

Bromelain is used to decrease swelling after oral surgery and episiotomy. It is also used as an anti-inflammatory, an antibiotic, a treatment for cancer and sports injuries, an aid to wound healing, and a treatment for mild ulcerative colitis.

Historical Uses

In folk medicine, bromelian fruit latex was used to treat wounds, burns, and cancer. It was also used as an aid to digestion.

Growth

Commercial bromelain is derived from pineapple stems. The major producers of bromelain are Japan, Taiwan, and Hawaii.

Bromelain: Part Used

• Pineapple plant stem

Major Chemical Compounds

• Sulfur-containing proteolytic enzymes ()

• Glycoproteins

• Vitamins that contain enzymes

Bromelain: Clinical Uses

This herb has been used to help resolve hematoma after oral surgery and episiotomy. It has also been used as an anti-inflammatory, an antibiotic, a treatment for cancer and sports injuries, an aid to wound healing (Natural Medicines, 2000), and a treatment for mild ulcerative colitis. It is approved by the German Commission E for “acute post-op and post-traumatic conditions of swelling, especially of the nasal and paranasal sinuses”.

Mechanism of Action

This proteolytic enzyme has fibrinolytic effects that decrease kininogen and bradykinin in serum by up to 60 percent. It acts at the level of thromboxane synthetase, decreasing levels of proinfiammatory prostaglandins and perhaps re-establishing the balance between proinfiammatory and anti-inflammatory prostaglandins.

Bromelain: Dosage

The recomended dosage is 80 to 320 mg two or three times daily on an empty stomach for 8 to 10 days.

Side Effects

Bromelain may increase bleeding time.

Contraindications

• Bromelain should not be used by persons with allergy to pineapple.

Herb-Drug Interactions

Bromelain may increase bleeding when taken with anticoagulants. It may increase plasma and urine levels of tetracycline. It also enhances the effect of penicillin, chloramphenicol, erythromycin, and novobiocin and can improve the efficacy of 5-fluorouracil and vincristine.

Pregnancy and Breast-Feeding

No restrictions are known.

Summary of Studies

Kane & Goldberg (2000). Two case studies on the successful use of bromelain in the treatment of mild ulcerative colitis.

Smyth et al. (1967). Biochemical studies on the resolution of inflammation in animals who were treated with bromelain.

Bromelain: Warnings

• Bromelain may increase your risk of bleeding, especially if you take a blood thinner.

• Don’t use bromelain if you’re allergic to pineapples.

• Discuss the use of this herb with your health-care practitioner if you are taking tetracycline, penicillin, chloramphenicol, erythromycin, novobiocin, or 5-fluorouracil and vincristine.

• No restrictions are known for pregnant or breast-feeding women.