Bromelain is a mixture of enzymes found in pineapples (Ananas comosus) that digest protein (proteolytic). Pineapple has been used for centuries in Central and South America to treat indigestion and reduce inflammation. Bromelain, which is derived from the stem and juice of the pineapple, was first isolated from the pineapple plant in the late 1800s. The German Commission E approved bromelain to treat swelling and inflammation after surgery, particularly sinus surgery.

Bromelain can be used to treat a number of conditions, but it is particularly effective in reducing inflammation from infection and injuries.

Surgery, Sprains and Strains, and Tendinitis

Although studies show mixed results, bromelain may reduce swelling, bruising, healing time, and pain after surgery and physical injuries. It is often used to reduce inflammation from tendinitis, sprains and strains, and other minor muscle injuries. Studies of people having dental, nasal, and foot surgeries found it reduced inflammation. In Europe, bromelain is used to treat sinus and nasal swelling following ear, nose, and throat surgery or trauma.

Wounds and Burns

Studies in animals suggest that bromelain, when applied to the skin, may be useful in removing dead tissue from third-degree burns, a process called debridement. One preliminary study of a debridement agent that is derived from bromelain to treat people with second- and third-degree burns showed a benefit. Severe burns require a doctor's care. Do not apply bromelain to broken skin.

Sinusitis (Sinus Inflammation)

Although not all studies agree, bromelain may help reduce cough and nasal mucus associated with sinusitis. It may also relieve the swelling and inflammation caused by hay fever.


Studies show mixed results. One study suggested that a combination of bromelain, rutosid and trypsin worked as well for reducing knee pain from osteoarthritis as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which are commonly used pain relievers. NSAIDs include ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin), naproxen (Aleve), and diclofenac (Voltaren), among others.

Early studies suggest that bromelain may also help reduce pain in people with rheumatoid arthritis. More research is needed.


Evidence from test tube and animal studies suggests that bromelain can kill some viruses and bacteria. More research, including human studies, is needed to see whether it truly works.


Preliminary research suggests that bromelain has anti-tumor properties, and may enhance the effectiveness of certain chemotherapy drugs. More research is needed.

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Allergic rhinitis Amyloidosis Bronchitis Burns Bursitis Cough Diarrhea Insect bites and stings Rheumatoid arthritis Scleroderma Sinusitis Tendinitis Urinary tract infection in women Wounds

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Review Date: 1/1/2017  

Reviewed By: Steven D. Ehrlich, NMD, Solutions Acupuncture, a private practice specializing in complementary and alternative medicine, Phoenix, AZ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by the A.D.A.M Editorial team.

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