Bromelain is a proteolytic enzyme that occurs naturally in the stems and juice of the pineapple fruit. The use of this enzyme is believed to aid in the digestion of protein. Because there is an amount that is absorbed by the body intact, it may also aid the body outside of the digestive tract. It is also used for conditions such as arthritis as it helps to relieve inflammation.
This product is approved by the Commission E as a complementary treatment in Germany, where it is one of the most popular supplements used for treating inflammation and swelling in injuries or surgery to the sinuses or nose area.
Because of its natural ability to digest proteins it is also popular as a digestive aid. It is use in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome, gas and bloating. Bromelain can be used alone, but it is also used in combination with lipase which helps to digest fats, or with amylase, a digestive for starch.
There is not much research however, on the effectiveness or safety of using this enzyme to aid digestion. This product is currently being researched as a topical treatment for burns. Once it has been extracted from the pineapple it is made into tablets or capsules. You may also find it sold as a meat tenderizer in some grocery stores because it is typically able to digest protein.
Bromelain is also known to help with mild pain relief in osteoarthritis and is commonly found as an ingredient in supplements for this condition. A rash or itchiness of the skin, skin hives, tightness in the throat and breathing problems or asthma symptoms, are some of the allergic reactions or most common side effects of using this enzyme. Heavy menstruation, abnormal uterine bleeding, drowsiness, increased heart rate or vomiting, are a few other side effects that have occurred with use of this product. Although this product is helpful with several conditions it should be used with caution.