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Bromelain - What You Need to Know

Bromelain Is a Dietary Supplement Used to Treat Osteoarthritis

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Updated October 02, 2009

Bromelain is an extract derived from the stem and fruit of the pineapple plant (Ananas comosus, family Bromeliaceae). Bromelain is marketed as a dietary supplement to treat osteoarthritis.

How Bromelain Works

It has been suggested that bromelain, when taken orally, can reduce inflammation and pain associated with the inflammatory process. Bromelain may or may not be effective for the treatment of osteoarthritis. More studies are needed to confirm effectiveness of bromelain for osteoarthritis. Similarly, there is not enough evidence to recommend bromelain for rheumatoid arthritis.

Availability of Bromelain

Despite the lack of evidence to support its use, some individuals do take interest in bromelain. It is available in capsules or tablets. The commonly used dosage is between 500 mg and 2,000 mg / three times a day between meals.

Precautions and Warnings for Bromelain

Bromelain may increase bleeding risk when taken together with drugs that are known to increase bleeding (blood thinners, anti-platelet drugs, and NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). Bromelain may also affect the absorption of certain antibiotics, increase the effect of blood pressure and blood thinning medications, and increase drowsiness.

Few side effects are linked to bromelain. The most common side effects are stomach upset and diarrhea. Increased heart rate, irritation of mucus membranes, and menstrual problems have been linked to bromelain treatment in a few cases.

Bottom Line

Discuss bromelain with your doctor before using the supplement. Go over all of your medications and supplements, and decide together if the benefit outweighs the risk.

Sources:

Bromelain (Ananas comosus, Ananas sativus). MedlinePlus. Accessed 9/29/2009.
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-bromelain.html

Primer on the Rheumatic Diseases. Supplements. Arthritis Foundation. Thirteenth Edition.

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