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Bromelain

Botanical Name:Ananas comosus(pineapple)

Common Uses:Food and Drug Absorption, Inflammation, Osteoarthritis, Dysmenorrhea

Bromelain, derived from the stem and fruit of the pineapple, is a combination of proteolytic enzymes which break down proteins, resulting in a variety of therapeutic benefits for the body. 

Traditional Use: 

Pineapple grows in numerous tropical and subtropical regions such as Thailand, Indonesia, India, and China and has been used throughout history by native cultures for its medicinal properties. The health benefits of pineapple are accredited to bromelain, a crude extract containing protease inhibiting enzymes. Bromelain has potent effects on the human body and has traditionally been used for its anti-inflammatory, nutrient-absorption enhancement, antithrombotic, and antiedematous properties. 

Research Overview: 

Modern research has shown bromelain to be particularly useful for a range of applications such as healing bruising, increasing nutrient and drug absorption, alleviating symptoms of osteoarthritis, and improving digestive health. 

One reason for why bromelain is particularly effective for gastrointestinal issues is due to its high levels of intact absorption in the gastrointestinal tract. A recent study found that 3.66mg/mL of bromelain was stable in artificial stomach juice after 4 hours of reaction. Additionally, there is evidence that suggests the ability of bromelain to weaken the effects of certain harmful bacteria found in the intestine, such asE. coli, via interactions with various secretory signaling pathways. 

Another study has shown the capacity of bromelain to reduce symptoms of IBS, Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn's disease. The results of this study showed that bromelain decreased the expression of mRNAs that encode pro-inflammatory chemicals known as cytokines and chemokines. Furthermore, research regarding weakened post-operative digestion has found that bromelain is effective at improving gut motility, confirming its usefulness as a digestive aid. 

Interesting Fact: In addition to the plethora of medicinal benefits for humans, bromelain is sold in the United States as an anti-inflammatory supplement for horses. 

Sources:

“The Musculoskeletal System.” Fundamentals of Pharmacognosy and Phytotherapy, by Michael Heinrich et al., Third ed., Elsevier, 2018, pp. 309-310.

Pavan, Rajendra, et al. “Properties and Therapeutic Application of Bromelain: a Review.”Biotechnology Research International, Hindawi Publishing Corporation, 2012.

Onken, Jane E, et al. “Bromelain Treatment Decreases Secretion of pro-Inflammatory Cytokines and Chemokines by Colon Biopsies in Vitro.”Clinical Immunology (Orlando, Fla.), U.S. National Library of Medicine, Mar. 2008.

Wen, Suping, et al. “Bromelain Improves Decrease in Defecation in Postoperative Rats: Modulation of Colonic Gene Expression of Inducible Nitric Oxide Synthase.”Life Sciences, Pergamon, 30 Aug. 2005.

Shoshana Markel

Shoshana Markel

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