Bromelain is actually one of the protease enzymes that are extracted from Bromeliaceae plant family (pineapple belongs to this family). This enzyme is useful for the digestion of proteins. It is the mixture of sulfur containing enzymes that are called proteolytic enzymes. Two main enzymes in this category are fruit bromelain and stem bromelain. Other than that, it also includes, acid phosphatase, peroxidase, calcium, and protease inhibitors. Bromelain is present in all parts of the pineapple plant. However, consumption of pineapple alone, will not give the desired effect of the enzyme. For the same reason, capsules and tablets are prepared using the extracts from pineapple stems, that are least edible.
These are the most common side effects that are experienced by people with an overdose of bromelain. They include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, palpitation, indigestion, loss of appetite, headache, muscle pain, dizziness, drowsiness, and lethargy. Women can experience uterine bleeding and heavy menstruation as well. It is also suggested that people with peptic ulcer should not consume the enzyme in any form. Also, people with any other digestive disorders should consult their health care provider before using it.
Another major side effect that is observed is mild to severe sorts of allergies. These are skin allergies and also digestive allergies (mentioned above). Skin allergies include hives, skin rash, itching, and swelling of the skin. Other than that, a person may also suffer from breathing problems and tightness in the throat. People, who are allergic to carrot, fennel, celery, rye, papaya, birch or cypress pollen, certain grass or latex, may suffer with the side effects that are similar to the usual side effects they experience with the aforementioned things.
Bromelain is theoretically said to increase blood flow. So, people suffering from blood disorders or bleeding disorders, and taking treatment for the same should not use this enzyme in any form without strict medical supervision. Bromelain intake should be stopped, two to three weeks prior to any dental operations and surgeries. Pregnant and nursing women should strictly avoid its usage. Also, people suffering from liver and kidney diseases should avoid this enzyme.
There are possible drug and herb interactions with those consuming bromelain. Moreover, people who are consuming blood thinners, or anti platelet and anticoagulant medicines like warfarin, aspirin, heparin, clopidogrel bisulfate, ibuprofen, naproxen, etc., can have several side effects, if not taken with proper medical guidance. Side effects can also be seen in people taking herbs and herbal medicines like, garlic and ginkgo biloba. Chemotherapy drugs, antibiotics, high blood pressure medications, benzodiazepines lorazepam, diazepam, narcotics, and antidepressants can also interact with bromelain supplements.
There are many chemical as well as medicinal uses of bromelain extract. More than 90% of this enzyme is used for tenderizing meat, along with papain (a protease enzyme in papaya). It is available in powdered form, so one can easily mix it into the marinades or sprinkle it over meats. It helps the process of forking or penetration of the meat. Many ready meat products are tenderized in this way.
Most significant benefits of bromelain are associated with health. There are many medical conditions that can be healed or soothed with the use of the extract of this enzyme. Many scientific researches also support the medicinal properties of this protease enzyme. They include, reduction of swelling, scar healing, post surgery pain relief, proper digestion, and treatment of sinusitis and osteoarthritis. Bromelain tablets are also suggested as complementary medicines in the treatment of various types of cancer.