Meet the pineapple enzyme that’s a digestion miracle worker.
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).
Does that mean eating a little pineapple everyday is enough to get your fix? Sadly, no. Even though there’s some in fresh pineapple and even pineapple juice, it’s not a large enough dose for it to be effective. Why? In part because it’s mostly concentrated in the parts you don’t eat, especially the stem. For that reason, it’s much easier to take a dietary supplement.
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, protein. However, our age, medications, and lifestyle can all decrease levels of these enzymes. These factors can lead to digestive imbalances resulting in bloating, gas, and other GI disturbances. Bromelain happens to be a protein-digesting enzyme, specifically. That means it’s especially beneficial to take with any meal that’s meat-heavy. Barbecue, anyone?
This potent enzyme is often used topically to remove dead skin from burns and to reduce inflammation and swelling. It’s why many at-home skin peel masks contain fresh pineapple! The enzyme literally eats through the dead cells that can dull complexion to reveal fresher, newer skin.
For a DIY approach, blend fresh pineapple in a blender until smooth and creamy. Remove one tablespoon of the puree and rub all over your face and neck, avoiding the eye area. Wait five minutes then remove with cold water, taking care not to get any of the juice in your eyes. Ta-da! Glowing skin revealed.
Bromelain’s anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties make it an effective natural treatment for the symptoms associated with osteoarthritis: pain, soft-tissue swelling, and joint stiffness.
In a review analysis with osteoarthritis patients, many patients saw positive clinical effects especially in reducing swelling, stiffness, and pain levels. While more research is needed and there isn’t an official dosage recommendation, early studies show benefits with 400 mg of bromelain administered twice daily.
Who Shouldn’t Take Bromelain
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 of bromelain. To be safe, if you have high-blood pressure, consult with your doctor before taking.
Additionally, bromelain can inhibit blood clotting. Avoid it if you take a blood-thinning medication (anticoagulant) such as aspirin, clopidogrel, ibuprofen, heparin, warfarin, and others.