Alex Caspero, MA, RD, introduces us to the pineapple enzyme bromelain, detailing its benefits for digestion, skin, and more.
If you’re looking for a digestion miracle worker, look no further.
Enter: bromelain, a pineapple enzyme that also happens to be good for your skin and bones.
What Is Bromelain?
Bromelain is a protein-digesting enzyme derived from the pineapple plant. Historically, it’s been used to treat many medical ailments and is often found in anti-inflammatory and digestive supplements (including HUM’s Flatter Me).
So… does eating a little pineapple everyday enough to get your fix? Sadly, no.
Even though there are small amounts of bromelain in fresh pineapple and pineapple juice, it’s not a large enough dose for it to be effective.
Why? It’s mostly concentrated in the parts you don’t eat, particularly the stem. For that reason, it’s much easier to take a bromelain supplement to experience its benefits.
3 Major Bromelain Benefits
What is bromelain good for? Here are three key benefits of this enzyme all-star.
1. Bromelain Improves Digestion
Here’s how it works: Our bodies make enzymes, which then help to break down food and improve our digestion of macronutrients. Some help break down fat, others break down carbs, and others break down protein.
However, several factors can decrease natural levels of digestive enzymes, such as:
- lifestyle considerations
These factors can lead to a number of digestive imbalances, including bloating, gas, and other GI disturbances.
Specifically, bromelain happens to be a protein-digesting enzyme. That means it’s especially beneficial to take alongside any meal that includes meat or plant-based protein sources for optimal digestion and nutrient absorption.
2. Bromelain Brightens Skin
This potent pineapple enzyme is often used topically to remove dead skin and to reduce inflammation and swelling. Amazingly, it literally eats through the dead cells that can dull complexion to reveal fresh, new skin.
Due to these bromelain benefits for skin, many skincare products and treatments contain traces of pineapple.
Tip: Take a DIY approach to yield bromelain’s skin-supporting benefits.
- Blend fresh pineapple in a blender until smooth and creamy.
- Remove one tablespoon of the puree. Rub all over your face and neck, avoiding eye area.
- Wait five minutes then remove with cool water. Take care to not get juice in your eyes.
- Ta-da! Glowing skin revealed.
3. Bromelain Supports Bone Health
Lastly, bromelain’s anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties make it an effective natural treatment for the symptoms associated with bone and joint issues, including:
- soft-tissue swelling
- joint stiffness
In a review analysis with osteoarthritis patients, many patients saw positive clinical effects, especially in reducing swelling, stiffness, and pain.
While more research is needed and there isn’t an official dosage recommendation, early studies show benefits with 400 milligrams of a bromelain supplement administered twice daily.
While the benefits of bromelain including better digestion, glowing skin, and relief from bone and joint pain, this powerful pineapple enzyme might not be for everyone.
Most human studies report few side effects. However, one study showed an increased heart rate in those with high blood pressure who ingested a high dose. If you’re in this demographic, err on the side of caution and consult your doctor before supplementing with it.
Additionally, bromelain can inhibit blood clotting. For this reason, skip it if you take a blood-thinning medication (anticoagulant) such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and others.