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Ananas comusus

Pineapple has been used as a medicinal plant in several native cultures and bromelain has been known chemically since 1876. In 1957, bromelain was introduced as a therapeutic compound when Heinicke found it in high concentrations in pineapple stems. Bromelain is one of a group of sulphur-containing proteolytic enzymes (enzymes capable of digesting protein). Bromelain is known for its anti-inflammatory effects and its efficacy in alleviating upper respiratory tract infections.


500mg one to three times daily. When taken shortly before meals, bromelain can be beneficial as a digestive aid. For other benefits it may be best taken away from food.

A variety of designations have been used to indicate the activity of bromelain; with published research varying in the designation utilized. Rorer units (R.U.), gelatin dissolving units (G.D.U.), and milk clotting units (M.C.U.) are the most commonly used measures of activity. One gram of bromelain standardized to 2000 M.C.U. would be approximately equal to 1 gram with 1200 G.D.U. of activity or 8 grams with 100,000 R.U. of activity.

Bromelain is considered to be non-toxic and lacking in side effects, so it can be used without concern in doses from 200 to 2000 mg daily for prolonged periods of time.

Bromelain has been shown to exert a beneficial effect at doses as low as 160 mg/day, however, there is a general consensus among researchers that the best results occur when bromelain is given in doses above 500 mg per day and that results improve in a dose-dependent manner with higher levels of bromelain supplementation.

In human clinical tests, side effects have not been observed. However, one preliminary report indicates increased heart rate with the use of bromelain.

Potential applications

Inflammatory conditions, gout, bruising, inflammation, sports injuries, trauma, pain relief, digestive support, carpal tunnel syndrome, infection (antibiotic), arthritis, bursitis, sinusitis, tendonitis, bronchitis, asthma, and excessive mucous production. Bromelain may be useful in reducing cancerous tumours. The fibrinolytic effects of bromelain prove beneficial in treating varicose veins and other circulatory disorders involving excess fibrin accumulation.

Known contraindications

As with other food substances, a small segment of the population, particularly those with sensitivity to pineapple, may be sensitive to oral supplementation with bromelain.


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.

Use in conjunction with

  • Sinusitis - Oregon grape root, quercetin complex, ester-C, garlic


© Cheryl Thallon at Viridian

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