Bromelain belongs to the proteolytic group of enzymes that helps in absorbing as well as assimilating proteins. Though most of the enzymes are known to be poor absorbents, bromelian can be distinguished from the other enzymes as it does absorb. It may be noted that proteolytic enzymes apart from bromelian are generally administered to individuals enduring malabsorption. They are known to provide relief to patients suffering from lack of absorption capabilities. Bromelain along with other enzymes and ox bile is known to help in digesting food, but it is not used for this function. Many herbal medicine practitioners are of the view and assume that the proteolytic enzymes that are present in pancreatin are much more effectual than bromelain in aiding digestion as well as absorption of food stuff in the body. However, thus far no research or test has tried to evaluate the comparative consequences of these enzymes.
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On the other hand, bromelain is considered to be an effective anti-inflammatory agent and hence it is widely used for curing minor wounds, especially sprains and strains, muscle damages and pains, swelling as well as the care associated with injuries during sports. Controlled researches on humans have found that owing to its anti-inflammatory properties, bromelain is able to radically reduce the post-operative swellings in the body. Double-blind researches conducted by scientists have established that bromelain is highly effectual in lessening swelling, bruising as well as pain for women who have had to undergo minor surgeries for giving birth or episiotomy.
It is believed that the anti-inflammatory properties of bromelain are responsible for the enzyme being effectual for people suffering from sinusitis. Double-blind researches conducted by some scientists also certify that use of bromelain is beneficial in the treatment of sinusitis. There have been a number of evidences in this regard.
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Bromelain has several other benefits too. When used in combination with another enzyme called trypsin, the amalgam possibly will assuage indicators of urinary tract infection. The therapeutic value of bromelain in this case is again owing to its anti-inflammatory property. A double-blind study evaluating the bromelain and trypsin in amalgamation with antibiotics to placebo and antibiotics found that the reduction of the urinary tract infection symptoms was from good to excellent in all the patients who were administered the enzymes and antibiotics. But the result was only half among the people who were only given antibiotics.
Many researches have also found bromelain to enhance absorption of amoxicillin when the enzyme is ingested with this antibiotic. The anti-inflammatory properties of bromelain also alleviate the sufferings of people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. This has been established during a preliminary research conducted on the enzyme. In that research, patients were administered bromelain for periods varying from three weeks to 13 months and the outcome were good to excellent among 73 per cent of the patients.
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Among other properties, bromelain is reported to be a natural blood thinner as it averts excessive blood platelet adhesiveness. To a large extent this explains the positive results from clinical trials conducted on bromelain to ascertain its properties to reduce indications or symptoms of angina and thrombophlebitis. Apart from these, bromelain also decreases the thickness of mucus and this is likely to benefit people suffering from asthma or chronic bronchitis.
Initial evidences from clinical tests conducted on bromelain, on both animals as well as people, indicate that the enzyme is likely to contain anti-tumor actions. However, researchers are yet to comprehend this property of bromelain and the effect of the enzyme on people suffering from tumors.
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In the nature, bromelain is generally found in the stems of pineapples and is commercially available in the drug stores as a dietary supplement.
It is still difficult and complicated to evaluate the correct dosage of bromelain. Actually, most of the researches conducted on bromelain were done several years back. At that time, the amount of bromelain used was listed in units of action. Unfortunately, no one has made any effort to convert the old usage units to newer ones. Presently, bromelain is measured or calculated in terms of MCUs (milk clotting units) or GDUs (gelatin dissolving units) and one GDU is equivalent to around 1.5 MCU. Powerful bromelain products available in the markets include 2,000 MCU or 1,200-1,333 GDU per gram or 1,000 mg. A dietary supplement of bromelain having 500 mg labeled "2,000 MCU per gram" will actually contain 1,000 MCU of activity. There are many herbal medicine practitioners who recommend as much as 3,000 MCU to be ingested thrice daily for numerous days. The dosage changes after this and is followed by 2,000 MCU taken three times daily. However, most of the researchers recommend usage of much smaller doses. They usually suggest that bromelain should be used in small dosages of 500 MCU taken four times a day.
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Normally, if taken in moderate doses, use of bromelain is safe and has no side effects. Nevertheless, there is a report that points out that use of bromelain may lead to increased heart beat rate. In addition, there are numerous people who are also allergic to the use of bromelain. Hence, it is advisable that such individuals should avoid taking bromelain.
It is essential that people should intake bromelain dietary supplements only after consulting qualified medical practitioners. This is because taking bromelain supplements may often lead to some side effects or interact with other medications being administered on people. At the same time, it is generally recommended that bromelain should not be taken at a stretch for more than eight to ten days.
According to researchers as well as medical practitioners, the possible side effects of taking bromelain include vomiting, diarrhea, nausea and extreme bleeding during menstruations. At the same time, it is advisable that individuals who are allergic to pineapples should never use bromelain dietary supplements as this may lead to skin reactions or asthma-like symptoms. Even pregnant women and people suffering from bleeding problems, high blood pressure, liver or kidney ailments should take bromelain supplements only after consulting qualified medical practitioners.
If anyone is undergoing treatment and being administered any of the medications mentioned below, they should never use bromelain without consulting their physicians. Usage of bromelain as well as the medications listed below may often prove to be detrimental for the well being of an individual.
A clinical study conducted by a group of researchers has established that using a combination of bromelain and amoxicillin enhances the level of this organic antibiotic in the blood. Another study claims that bromelain may enhance the body's ability to significantly suck up tetracycline. However, many other studies conducted on the side-affects of bromelain contradict this view. Hence, it is advisable that unless and until the researchers confirm the facts, one should try to avoid the usage of bromelain and tetracycline simultaneously.
Incidentally, studies conducted on bromelain and tetracycline has yielded diverse consequences. While some researches assert that usage of bromelain enhances the tetracycline levels in the body, there are other studies that point out using both may lead to additional excretion of the antibiotic during urination.
Here is a word of caution for anyone taking aspirin, warfarin or any other such medication that thins the blood. Such people should use bromelain with utmost prudence as using bromelain and any of the blood thinning medications simultaneously may lead to bleeding.