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Bromelain is not actually a single substance, but rather a collection of protein-digesting enzymes (also called proteolytic enzymes) found in pineapple juice and in the stem of pineapple plants. It is primarily produced in Japan, Hawaii, and Taiwan, and much of the original research was performed in the first two of those locations. Subsequently, European researchers developed an interest, and, by 1995, bromelain had become the thirteenth most common individual herbal product sold in Germany.
Bromelain (often in combination with other proteolytic enzymes ) is used in Europe to aid in recovery from surgery and athletic injuries , as well as to treat sinusitis and phlebitis .
Other proposed uses of bromelain include chronic venous insufficiency (closely related to varicose veins ), hemorrhoids , other diseases of the veins, bruising , rheumatoid arthritis , gout , ulcerative colitis , 1 and dysmenorrhea (menstrual pain). However, there is no real evidence that bromelain is effective for these conditions. One study failed to find bromelain effective for osteoarthritis . 2 Bromelain is definitely useful as a digestive enzyme. Unlike most digestive enzymes, bromelain is active both in the acid environment of the stomach and the alkaline environment of...
Bromelain appears to be essentially nontoxic, and it seldom causes side effects other than occasional mild gastrointestinal distress or allergic reactions. 3 However, because bromelain "thins" the blood to some extent, it shouldn't be combined with drugs such as warfarin (Coumadin) without a doctor's supervision.
According to one small animal study, bromelain might interact with sedative medications, increasing their effect. 4 As noted above, it might also increase blood levels of various antibiotics , which could present risks in some cases. In addition, one trial suggests that doses of bromelain eight times higher than standard recommendations might increase heart rate (but not blood pressure). 5 Safety in young children, pregnant or nursing...