Bromelain for Herbal Naturopathy: properties, benefits, uses, side effects

Bromelain is a proteolytic enzyme contained in the fruit and stem of pineapple with an anti-inflammatory, digestive and anti-edema action. Let’s find out better.

Meaning of bromelain

Bromelain is a proteolytic enzyme, which is capable of breaking down proteins into amino acids. The name of this substance derives from Bromeliaceae , a term with which the botanical family of pineapple is indicated.

Chemically, four bromelain fractions are distinguished, with slightly different chemical formulas, although some authors suggest that the differences would occur during the purification processes. However, since the various fractions have superimposable activity, the mixture in the natural form is commonly used.

Where is bromelain found

The first form of bromelain was identified in the fruit of the pineapple, and subsequently, in the stem of the pineapple where it is found in the most concentrated form.

For this reason, the bromelain present on the market is generally obtained from the latter source, given that the use of the fruit by the food industry raises its cost, while the stem is a waste of food production.

Properties and use of bromelain

As frequently happens with plant extracts, the action of the phytocomplex is more effective than the intake of the active ingredients isolated, however on the market bromelain, due to its numerous properties, can also be found extracted from anans (i.e. of  natural origin),  as well as chemically synthesized in the form of a drug.

Bromelain has a digestive action for foods rich in proteins, as it is a proteolytic enzyme and therefore capable of breaking down proteins into amino acids, revealing itself to be effective in dysplasia.

Bromelain is also used to improve circulation and skin trophism, as it has an antithrombotic action, because it is able to solubilize atherosclerotic plaques, thus hindering the formation of thrombus inside the blood vessels. For this reason it is useful in the presence of varicose veins and in disorders of the circulatory system . 

This substance is also used as an anti- edema, particularly effective in the treatment of localized inflammation of the soft tissues associated with trauma, in postoperative tissue reactions and in the presence of edema or cellulite (localized lipodystrophy), ecchymoses and hematomas as it accelerates the resorption of hemorrhagic extravasations. 

The safety of the use of bromelain compared to other anti-inflammatory drugs derives from the difference in its mechanism of action: in fact, where the classic NSAIDs inhibit cyclooxygenase, blocking the synthesis of prostaglandins, bromelain instead increases the production of prostaglandins with anti-inflammatory activity at the expense of those with pro-inflammatory activity, thus avoiding the gastrointestinal damage typical of this category of drugs. 

Contraindications of bromelain

Bromelain is contraindicated in pregnancy; in case of pineapple allergy; in the presence of a gastric or duodenal ulcer. It has interactions with synthetic anticoagulant or anti-inflammatory drugs, for this reason it is necessary to consult a doctor before taking it. 

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