Bromelain has powerful anti-inflammatory actions and is widely used to reduce pain, swelling and inflammation associated with arthritis, sprains, wounds and soft tissue injuries. It is thought to promote tissue repair and has been shown to help reduce the bruising and pain that can follow minor operations or injury.
Many people consider bromelain to be a safer, natural alternative to conventional treatment for joint problems and arthritis such as NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) and COX-II inhibitors. These are aimed at decreasing pain and improving function, but have been associated with serious side-effects. Research has shown bromelain to be of benefit for reducing knee pain (1), and reducing swelling in rheumatoid arthritis (2). It has also been shown to improve pain and mobility in osteoarthritis (3).
In addition to the strong anti-inflammatory and painkilling properties, bromelain has a useful mucus-thinning action and can help with respiratory conditions such as sinusitis, bronchitis and asthma. It also has a natural blood thinning action, which can help explain the positive reports in some trials of bromelain to decrease the symptoms of angina and thrombophlebitis.
Bromelain is an enzyme extracted from the stem of the pineapple plant, ananas comosus . It has been used as a medicinal plant in several native cultures as a natural weapon to combat inflammation and joint problems.