Bromelain, derived from the pineapple plant, is one of a group of proteolytic enzymes (enzymes capable of digesting protein).
Where is it found?
Bromelain is found mostly in the stems of
pineapples and is available as a dietary supplement.
Bromelain has been used in
connection with the following conditions (refer to the individual
health concern for complete information):
Who is likely to be deficient?
Since bromelain is not essential, deficiencies of this plant-based enzyme do not exist.
How much is usually taken?
Assessing the right amount of bromelain to take is complicated. Most bromelain research was
conducted years ago, when amounts used were listed in units of activity that no longer exist.
These old units do not precisely convert to new ones. Today, bromelain is measured in MCUs
(milk clotting units) or GDUs (gelatin dissolving units). One GDU equals approximately 1.5
MCU. Strong products contain at least 2,000 MCU (1,200–1,333 GDU) per gram (1,000 mg). A
supplement containing 500 mg labeled “2,000 MCU per gram” would have 1,000 MCU of
activity. Some doctors recommend as much as 3,000 MCU taken three times per day for several
days, followed by 2,000 MCU three times per day.1 Much of the research uses smaller
amounts, more like the equivalent of approximately 500 MCU taken four times per day. However,
most of the bromelain used in the studies was enteric-coated in order to prevent it from being
destroyed by gastric juice. It is likely, therefore, that currently available bromelain
preparations (which typically are not enteric-coated) are of lower potency than the bromelain
used in most studies.
Are there any side effects or interactions?
Bromelain is generally safe and free of side effects when taken in moderate amounts.
However, one preliminary report indicates increased heart rate with the use of
bromelain.2 In addition, some people are allergic to bromelain. One woman
reportedly developed a hives and severe swelling after taking bromelain, even though she had
tolerated bromelain on two other occasions previously.3 Because bromelain acts as a
blood thinner and little is known about how bromelain interacts with blood-thinning drugs,
people should avoid combining such drugs with bromelain in order to reduce the theoretical
risk of excessive bleeding.
Are there any drug
Certain medicines may interact with bromelain. Refer to drug interactions for a list of those medicines.
1. Gaby AR. The story of bromelain. Nutr Healing May 1995:3, 4,
2. Gutfreund AE, Taussig SJ, Morris AK. Effect of oral bromelain on blood
pressure and heart rate of hypertensive patients. Hawaii Med J
3. Nettis E, Napoli G, Ferrannini A, Tursi A. IgE-mediated allergy to
bromelain. Allergy 2001;56:257–8.