Many people might not know this, but a slice of Hawaii might be all it takes to help alleviate or even thwart a number of disorders that can wreak havoc on your health. Well, maybe not literally, but pineapple – a flavorful fruit closely associated with the Aloha State – is the source of bromelain, an anti-inflammatory enzyme that had been linked to many health benefits. Among them are reducing the pain of osteoarthritis and alleviating the nasty symptoms of sinusitis, to include for sniffling children.
What Is Bromelain?
Bromelain, which is sourced from pineapple extracts, can be found in both the pineapple fruit itself and its stems, both of which have an abundance of proteases (proteolytic enzymes) that can break down proteins into amino acids, per selfhacked.com.
Although the bromelain extracted from the fruit and from the stem contain these proteases, they come in varying amounts, with the bromelain originating from stems typically shown to have a superior protease content, which explains why the stem-sourced version is more often used in research studies.
Note that eating pineapple itself won’t do much in the way of bestowing bromelain’s benefits on you, but in concentrated supplemental form it can have a significant positive impact on your health. If you plan to make it a regular part of your daily dietary regimen, or even if limited use for a short period of time, you are advised to discuss its use with your physician.
7 Health Benefits of Bromelain
Following are seven of the purported health benefits that are associated with the use of bromelain:
- Anti-inflammatory. Through its protein-digesting properties, bromelain has demonstrated success in breaking up and diffusing elements of inflammation, a good portion of which are protein molecules. In this regard, bromelain supplements markedly diminished post-operative swelling in patients whose fractured bones were set by surgeons, per a published study that appeared in a 2001 edition of “Acta Chirurgiae Orthopedicae et Traumatologiae Cechoslovaka,” as cited at healthyeating.sfgate.com.
- Alleviate osteoarthritis. Per medicalnewstoday.com, many people have used bromelain to treat the symptoms of osteoarthritis, with success attributed to the enzyme’s anti-inflammatory characteristics.
- Weight loss. Although added research is needed to further substantiate this claim, a National Institutes of Health (NIH) article, cited at selfhacked.com, claims that bromelain might be able to induce weight loss (assuming you want to lose weight) by inhibiting fat production and promoting fat burning.
- Improve digestion. Bromelain apparently can do this in several ways, such as relieving an upset stomach as well as a therapy combined with other treatments to alleviate bowel disorders related to inflammation. Additionally, animal studies, per medicalnewstoday.com, seem to indicate that bromelain can tamp down the effects of some bacteria that can influence the intestine for the worse, in some instance causing diarrhea.
- Relief from sinusitis. A study referenced at healthyeating.sfgate.com reported that children aged 11 and under and with sinus infections were given either bromelain alone, bromelain combined with common pharmaceutical, or pharmaceuticals by themselves. According to the results, children who were given bromelain alone showed symptoms lasting 6.6 days, while the pharmaceuticals-only group averaged 7.9 days and the combined-regimen group lasted 9 days.
- Treat skin burns and wounds. Per selfhacked.com, five clinical trials involving more than 350 people with deep burns were given enzymatic treatments with bromelain, which succeeded in healing the burns with an efficacy on par with conventional treatments, cutting back on the need for surgery.