What’s the first thing that comes to mind when I say the word “pineapple”?
You might be thinking “pina colada”… or even “hula dancers.”
But for me, when I see a pineapple, the first thing that comes to mind is powerful joint pain relief.
As sweet and refreshing as the fruit is, pineapples are one of the world’s best sources of an all-natural joint relief “medicine” called bromelain.
What is bromelain?
Bromelain is a mixture of enzymes found in the pineapple juice (made from the pineapple’s core) and pineapple stem. It has a long history as a natural healer.
Its scientific name, ananas comosus, comes from South America’s Tupi language and means “tufted, excellent fruit.” And make no mistake, they weren’t just talking about its sweet taste!
Western medicine learned of the healing power of pineapples soon after Christopher Columbus landed in the New World — and found pineapple plants — on the island of Guadalupe in 1493.
Even before then, healers in areas where pineapple plants grew recognized it for its numerous health benefits, including its anti-inflammatory effects, its usefulness in aiding indigestion and for overall well-being.
But it wasn’t until the late 1800s that a Venezuelan chemist isolated bromelain as an enzyme.
Now, here’s what I want you to understand…
Bromelain isn’t just any kind of enzyme. It’s a proteolytic enzyme.
Here’s why that’s so important…
What are proteolytic enzymes?
First, you should know that proteolytic enzymes are completely safe and natural.
They occur naturally in your body.
They’re protein-digesting enzymes — they break down and eliminate the excess proteins that accumulate at the scene of an injury, irritation or burn.
More to the point, bromelain mops up a specific protein — called Circulating Immune Complex (CIC) — that’s sent by the human immune system to form a protective wall around injured areas.
But after the age of 27, your body stops producing enough proteolytic enzymes to do the heavy lifting.
This leaves you more vulnerable to the inflammation that makes your aches and pains — like crippling joint pain — feel worse as you age.
Inflammation also makes you more vulnerable to strokes, Alzheimer’s and heart attacks as well as just about every other chronic disease known to man.
The research on bromelain is overwhelming: More than 1,600 scientific and clinical studies show it’s a powerful treatment for everything from allergies and asthma to ACL tears and even sprained ankles! (That’s why it’s so popular among practitioners of alternative medicine. )
And not only are proteolytic enzymes effective, they also don’t come with the dangerous side effects of Big Pharma’s pain pills.
I could write about ALL the different things bromelain treats, but it would take me forever! So I’ve narrowed it down to just these five…
5 Incredible Bromelain Benefits
1. Bromelain for joint pain
I’ve been researching natural ways to relieve joint pain for more than a decade. Here’s what I’ve found…
Modern medicine’s solutions for joint pain relief, like over-the-counter pain pills including acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve), all have serious adverse effects.
Did you know acetaminophen is the leading cause of acute liver failure?[i]
Prescription pain meds can be downright deadly, too. Just look at the tragedy of this country’s opioid epidemic.
Bromelain, on the other hand, is safe and effective for both chronic joint pain and acute joint pain.
In a study published in the journal Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, researchers gave 42 patients with osteoarthritis a supplement containing bromelain.
The patients reported a 60 percent decrease in pain for acute disorders. And those with chronic pain saw their pain levels cut in half![iii]
And yet another study looked at 77 healthy adults with mild acute knee pain. Half received 200 mg of bromelain per day while the other group received 400 mg.
Researchers found that symptoms decreased after just one month on bromelain in both groups. but the group taking the higher dose reported a greater decrease in stiffness and an increase in physical function.[iv]
2. Bromelain for wound healing
This is what bromelain is best known for. Lots of athletes use bromelain to speed up healing when they get hurt on the court or field. It’s great for things like sprains, strains and other minor trauma.
In one study, an orthopedist gave bromelain to 59 patients with minor musculoskeletal injuries along with conventional treatments. Bromelain significantly reduced swelling, pain and tenderness.[v]
3. Bromelain for sinusitis
Who would have thought a pineapple could hold the key to relieving stuffy noses?
Studies have shown that bromelain reduces inflammation in the nasal cavity.[vi]
And it does it FASTER than standard therapies. It’s also been used to treat allergies and hay fever.
4. Bromelain for digestion
Bromelain is an enzyme that breaks down — or digests — proteins.
Because of this, it’s a great digestive aid. And it’s been shown in animal studies to decrease the incidence and severity of inflammatory bowel disease.[vii]
It’s also widely used to treat the symptoms of ulcerative colitis.
Bromelain not only helps you digest your food more easily, it also helps you get more of the nutrients from your food.
5. Bromelain for cancer
There’s really exciting research that shows bromelain is a potent weapon in the war on cancer.
One study showed that it was BETTER at killing cancer cells than the chemo drug 5-fluorouracil[viii] — a drug that’s been used by cancer doctors for more than 40 years!
What’s even better is that, unlike toxic chemo drugs, bromelain is what they call “selectively cytotoxic.”
That means it kills the cancer cells but it DOESN’T destroy healthy cells in the process.
How to get more bromelain
Eating more pineapple is a good way to increase your body’s supply of bromelain. But here’s the problem…
You’d have to eat a LOT of it raw to make an impact on your health and well-being. So much that you’d probably get sick of it…
And keep in mind… canned pineapple won’t do the trick.
Food processing destroys the natural health benefits of these good-for-you proteolytic enzymes.
One of the best and safest ways to get the right amount of bromelain for your health is among the most convenient, too: as a dietary supplement.
You can find bromelain supplements online or in your local health food store.
But in order to get the most out of bromelain, look for dietary supplements that contain other herbs and natural ingredients known for their anti-inflammatory effects, or one that contains other other digestive enzymes.
Look for words like “protease” on the label.
And by the way, pineapple isn’t the only source of proteolytic enzymes.
You can also find them in papaya (papain), figs (ficin), and kiwi fruit (actinidin.) As mentioned, a good dietary supplement will usually combine various forms of the enzymes.
iv Klein G, Kullich W, Schnitker J, Schwann H. “Efficacy and tolerance of an oral enzyme combination in painful osteoarthritis of the hip. A double-blind, randomised study comparing oral enzymes with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.” Clinical and Experimental Rheumatology. 2006 Jan-Feb;24(1):25-30.
v Walker AF, Bundy R., Hicks SM, Middleton RW. “Bromelain reduces mild acute knee pain and improves well-being in a dose-dependent fashion in an open study of otherwise healthy adults.” Phtyomedicine. 2002: Volume 9, Issue 8, 561-686.
viii Braun JM, Schneider B, Beuth HJ. “Therapeutic use, efficiency and safety of the proteolytic pineapple enzyme Bromelain-POS in children with acute sinusitis in Germany.” In Vivo. 2005 Mar-Apr;19(2):417-21.
ix Hale LP, Greer PK, Trinh CT, Gottfried MR. “Treatment with oral bromelain decreases colonic inflammation in the IL-10-deficient murine model of inflammatory bowel disease.” Clinical Immunology. 2005 Aug;116(2):135-42.