Bromelain is a protease enzyme extracted from pineapples. The pineapple has been long used for medicinal purposes in Central and South America, although bromelain itself was not discovered until 1891.
In Europe, bromelain is approved for medical use in the debridement of dead and damaged tissue in severe burns. It also has a range of applications as a complementary or alternative remedy.
Bromelain is believed to help to heal muscle tissue, and is sometimes taken as a supplement following a muscle tear or sprain. Studies have shown some early promise with regard to bromelain helping to reduce the symptoms – and thereby the pain – of osteoarthritis, and there are also investigations under way into using bromelain as part of systemic enzyme therapy for certain diseases.
Because bromelain is an enzyme which helps to digest protein, it may benefit those with digestive issues such as IBS or ulcerative colitis. It appears to also have some potential for reducing the symptoms of asthma.
You can consume bromelain by eating pineapple flesh, or by juicing pineapples, but it is also readily available as a supplement in tablet or capsule form.