Active Ingredients

Bromelain – Effects, Application & Risks


The enzyme bromelain was discovered in pineapples in 1891. When scientists discovered in 1957 that highly concentrated bromelain was also found in the trunk of the pineapple tree, they decided to use the active ingredient medicinally. Bromelain is the most scientifically studied group of enzymes.

What is bromelain?

In the case of bromelain, biochemistry distinguishes between the bromelain present in the unripe fruit and the active substance contained in the stem. Fruit bromelain contains 230 amino acids , stem bromelain “only” 212. Bromelain, also called bromelin , is a peptidase , that is, an enzyme that produces peptides ( digestive enzymes ). It also acts as a protease ( splitting proteins ). Biochemically, the bromelain enzyme group belongs to the family of cysteine ​​proteases.

The bromelain obtained from the stem and the unripe fruit is processed as a mixture and sold in a highly concentrated form as a mono and combination preparation (tablets, capsules, powder) or as a dietary supplement in pharmacies and over the Internet. The tablets are gastro-resistant and only release the active ingredients in the small intestine .

The raw extract from the plant is also referred to as bromelain, which, in addition to the active ingredient itself, contains other health-promoting enzymes, protease inhibitors and calcium . Except for a pleasant taste experience, the enjoyment of the ripe pineapple fruit would not bring the patient too much bromelain, since the concentration in it is extremely low.

As a mono preparation, bromelain is sold in pharmacies without a prescription, for example under the trade names Bromelain-POS®, Wobenzym® mono and Traumanase®. In combination with other proteolytic enzymes, it occurs in the combination preparations Wobenzym®, Innovazym® and Proteozym®.

Pharmacological action

Bromelain is often used as an adjuvant to other therapies. For example, it is used to enhance the effect of antibiotics . Bromelain has an anti-inflammatory effect by inhibiting the production of inflammation-causing prostaglandins. Therefore, it is successfully used in rheumatoid arthritis , gout , atherosclerosis and ulcerative colitis . In rheumatoid arthritis, for example, it suppresses the formation of the prostaglandin thromboxane .The active ingredient complex from the pineapple has an anticoagulant effect. By breaking down the body’s fibrin , a protein that, in high concentrations, slows blood flow . As a result, bromelain reduces the risk of thrombosis at the same time and protects against coronary heart disease . Bromelain is therefore also used to treat vein diseases and thrombosis.

It also has pain-relieving properties: it blocks pain -conducting messenger substances . The nasal and sinus mucosa and nasal mucous membranes in particular benefit from its decongestant effect . It has the same effect on swelling caused by injury and surgery: the proteins causing the swelling are broken down by the bromelain so that they can be transported away quickly. The swelling goes down, the pressure pain is reduced.

Bromelain also has a digestive effect. This applies in particular to patients with pancreatic insufficiency . It builds up the digestive enzymes that are insufficiently produced in this disease and thus ensures that the pancreas can properly split the nutrients in the food again and make them usable for the body. It also neutralizes acidic stomach contents.

Bromelain supports wound healing, especially in burn victims . For grade 2 and grade 3 burns, applied as a gel to the wound, it dissolves the scab there so that the wound can be gently cleaned. The circulation-promoting effect of bromelain also supports rapid wound healing. In this way, harmful substances can be removed from there more quickly.

Since bromelain also has draining properties, bromelain can also be used for edema . It breaks down the tissue hormone bradykinin and thus ensures that the capillaries narrow and less fluid is released from the blood vessels into the surrounding tissue. This reduces tissue swelling.

Bromelain stimulates the production of certain cytokines that fight cancer cells and destroys the protein surface of tumor cells, making them easier for the immune system ‘s defense cells to find and destroy.

Competitive athletes and fitness enthusiasts also appreciate the pineapple enzyme complex, as it protects their bodies from infections when they are at their best in sport.

Medical Application & Use

Bromelain is formed in the stem and in the unripe pineapple fruit. If it is fed to the body in the form of food supplements or standardized finished medicinal products from the pharmacy, it is broken down in the liver . If the patient or athlete plans to use the enzyme complex for a longer period of time, they should only use the product under medical supervision.

Bromelain is only effective from a daily dose of 80 mg. If you want to take it in a highly concentrated form, you should buy a corresponding pharmacy preparation instead of the dietary supplement. A daily dose of 750 to 1,000 mg is recommended for most applications.

If bromelain is to promote digestion , it is taken just before, during and just after the meal. In order for it to develop the best possible anti-inflammatory effect, the patient consumes it 1.5 to 2 hours before or after the meal.

Risks & side effects

Allergic reactions, skin rashes and asthma can occur in 1 to 10% of patients . In such a case, the user should stop taking it and consult their doctor. 0.1 to 1% of users get diarrhea , gastrointestinal disorders and stomach pain from bromelain .Pregnant women , breastfeeding women and children under the age of 12 should not use the enzyme complex. The same applies to patients with hypersensitivity to the active substance and with blood clotting disorders . If platelet aggregation inhibitors ( anticoagulants ) are taken at the same time, the tendency to bleed increases . If a user takes bromelain and certain antibiotics ( tetracyclines ) at the same time, the antibiotic effect is intensified, sometimes too intensively.

Lisa Newlon
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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.