Bromelain: Feeling Better + Healing Better

No matter how healthy you are, no matter how careful you are, it just happens. You strain a muscle during a new exercise routine, "sleep wrong" and wake up with a sore neck, whatever. And then what do you do? If you're like most Americans, you reach for an over-the-counter pain reliever. But as you may have heard, there are long-term and short-term consequences to using these drugs, and they don't do much for your actual healing process.

I thought you might like to learn about an alternative. There are many options, but I thought I'd focus on just one: bromelain.

Bromelain has been used for treatment of many conditions, but there are a few that have been studied and for which it is now widely accepted as a safe and effective treatment(1)(2). Bromelain is a proteolytic enzyme that is derived from pineapple, but it's from the core, not the fruit. For that reason, we generally use it in supplement form.

If you take bromelain with food, it helps to digest your food. If you take it away from food, you can enjoy many of its other amazing properties: pain relief, reduction of edema and inflammation, and even anti-metastatic properties for treatment of cancer(3). Therapeutic dose in studies varies greatly, from 200mg-2000mg/day(4), so you may want to work with your holistic doctor to find the product and dosage that is right for you. Also, keep in mind that while you will likely have some pretty quick results from supplementing with bromelain, you may need to use it for several weeks or on an ongoing basis to manage something chronic in nature like osteoarthritis.

My personal clinical experience with it is that it works best taken in divided doses throughout the day between meals, although this can be tricky because it's harder to remember to take it. I have seen it be effective at managing mild tendonitis as well as more significant problems like ruptured discs.

So, the next time you find yourself reaching for the NSAIDs, consider trying an alternative such as bromelain that will also help your body heal!

1) Maurer HR. Bromelain: biochemistry, pharmacology and medical use.Cell Mol Life Sci. 2001 Aug;58(9):1234-45.

2) Albina J. Nutrition and wound healing. Journal of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition, 1994;18(4):367-376

3) Mackay D, Miller AL. Nutritional support for wound healing. Alt Med Rev. 2003;8(2):359-377.

4) Brien S, Lewith G, Walker A, Hicks SM, Middleton D. Bromelain as a Treatment for Osteoarthritis: a Review of Clinical Studies. Evidence based complementary and alternative medicine;1(3):251-257.