Bromelain, derived from the pineapple plant, is one of a group of proteolytic enzymes (enzymes capable of digesting protein).
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This supplement has been used in connection with the following health conditions:
How It Works
How to Use It
Assessing the right amount of bromelain to take is complicated. Most bromelain research was conducted years ago, when amounts used were listed in units of activity that no longer exist. These old units do not precisely convert to new ones. Today, bromelain is measured in MCUs (milk clotting units) or GDUs (gelatin dissolving units). One GDU equals approximately 1.5 MCU. Strong products contain at least 2,000 MCU (1,200-1,333 GDU) per gram (1,000 mg). A supplement containing 500 mg labeled "2,000 MCU per gram" would have 1,000 MCU of activity. Some doctors recommend as much as 3,000 MCU taken three times per day for several days, followed by 2,000 MCU three times per day.1 Much of the research uses smaller amounts, more like the equivalent of approximately 500 MCU taken four times per day. However, most of the bromelain used in the studies was enteric-coated in order to prevent it from being destroyed by gastric juice. It is likely, therefore, that currently available bromelain preparations (which typically are not enteric-coated) are of lower potency than the bromelain used in most studies.
Where to Find It
Bromelain is found mostly in the stems of pineapples and is available as a dietary supplement.
Since bromelain is not essential, deficiencies of this plant-based enzyme do not exist.
Interactions with Supplements, Foods, & Other Compounds
Because bromelain acts as a blood thinner and little is known about how bromelain interacts with blood-thinning drugs, people should avoid combining such drugs with bromelain in order to reduce the theoretical risk of excessive bleeding.
Interactions with Medicines
Certain medicines interact with this supplement.
Types of interactions: Beneficial Adverse Check
Replenish Depleted Nutrients
Reduce Side Effects
Potential Negative Interaction
The Drug-Nutrient Interactions table may not include every possible interaction. Taking medicines with meals, on an empty stomach, or with alcohol may influence their effects. For details, refer to the manufacturers' package information as these are not covered in this table. If you take medications, always discuss the potential risks and benefits of adding a supplement with your doctor or pharmacist.
Bromelain is generally safe and free of side effects when taken in moderate amounts. However, one preliminary report indicates increased heart rate with the use of bromelain.2 In addition, some people are allergic to bromelain. One woman reportedly developed a hives and severe swelling after taking bromelain, even though she had tolerated bromelain on two other occasions previously.3
1. Gaby AR. The story of bromelain. Nutr Healing May 1995:3, 4, 11.
2. Gutfreund AE, Taussig SJ, Morris AK. Effect of oral bromelain on blood pressure and heart rate of hypertensive patients. Hawaii Med J 1978;37:143-6.
3. Nettis E, Napoli G, Ferrannini A, Tursi A. IgE-mediated allergy to bromelain. Allergy 2001;56:257-8.
Last Review: 05-24-2015
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The information presented by Healthnotes is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires December 2018.
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