Bromelain is the term used to describe a family of sulfhydryl-containing, proteolytic enzymes derived from the stem and fruit of the pineapple plant (Ananas comosus). As a plant enzyme, bromelain has many advantages and uses as a supplemental ingredient.
Bromelain is used by itself, or in combination with other enzymes, in many products to aid pancreatic
enzymes in digestion. Bromelain is also helpful in the absorption of many other supplemental ingredients such as glucosamine
, and many others.
Bromelain is found in many different types of products. It is common in digestive, vascular
, respiratory, allergy, and anti-inflammatory
Possible hidden sources of bromelain include meat tenderizers and beer, where it is used in the clarification process.
Function; Why it is Recommended
It appears a great deal of the physiological activity of bromelain cannot be accounted for by its large proteolytic
content, but that its beneficial effects are due to multiple factors, some of which are as yet unknown.
A variety of designations have been used to indicate the activity of bromelain. Rorer units (RU), gelatin dissolving units (GDU), and milk clotting units (MCU) are the most commonly used measures of activity. One gram of bromelain standardized to 2,000 MCU would be approximately equal to 1gm with 1,200 GDU of activity or 8gm with 100,000 RU of activity.
Bromelain is essentially a protease
(enzyme that breaks down proteins); and because it is plant-derived, it is active at a wide pH range (3-10) and temperature range. This makes it useful as a digestive aid, as it works in both the stomach and the intestines.
Bromelain is absorbed intact through the gastrointestinal
tract, with the highest concentration of bromelain being found in the blood one hour after administration. However, its proteolytic
activity is rapidly deactivated.
Bromelain is potent enzyme that naturally supports the body's ability to break down blood clots as they develop and diminish inflammation
. It has also been found to have antitumor properties [Maurer 2001
As Bromelain passes into the blood stream, it has some very beneficial activities systemically. It has been used as an anti-inflammatory
agent in both gross injury type swellings (surgery, trauma injury, sprains; for which it received an "Approved status by the German Commission E) as well as micro inflammations (allergic reactions, localized internal infections). Here it is thought to work on both the fibrin and kinin pathways to decrease active inflammation, as well as prevent the blockage of other anti-inflammatory agents from entering the site of infection. Other activities associated with bromelain include inhibition of platelet aggregation
, decreasing the viscosity of mucus (mucolytic
), antibiotic activity and smooth muscle
Bromelain is commonly taken as a digestive aid to enhance absorption of proteins.
Bromelain has shown therapeutic benefits in doses as small as 160mg per day. For most conditions, the best results occur at doses of 750-1000mg per day. Most research on bromelain has been done utilizing four divided daily doses, usually between meals.
In human clinical tests, side-effects are generally not observed. However, there is always the possibility that someone may develop an allergy to bromelain.