Bromelain – A Natural Digestive Aid and More

What is Bromelain?

Bromelain comes from pineapple and is best known as a protein-digesting enzyme. The stems of the fresh pineapple plant are used since these have no other commercial use, but nevertheless are a rich source of bromelain. It quite often finds application as a digestive aid. People suffering from digestive sluggishness and insufficiency may find it beneficial to use when the production of protein digesting enzymes from their stomach and/or pancreas is insufficient.

However, apart from its popular use as a protein-digestive aid, Bromelain has also been found to have a surprisingly wide range of actions in the body and to be quite a powerful medical substance in its own right.

Effects on Inflammation

Many research papers show that Bromelain has important anti-inflammatory effects, often better than the effect of commonly used anti-inflammatory drugs, such as aspirin and the other non-steroidal anti-inflammatories. Bromelain is found to work by inhibiting the production of eicosanoids (tissue hormones that include prostagladins, thromboxanes and leukotrienes),  that increase inflammation, while stimulating the production of those that reduce inflammation.

For both nutritional therapy students and practitioners, recognizing that Bromelain is an anti-inflammatory is a very positive thing, because it enables one to think of introducing it into a prescription wherever an inflammatory condition exists. This would apply wherever there is acute injury, infection, or an allergic situation, as in hay fever, or in an inflammatory chronic condition like arthritis or lupus, and for a mixed chronic/acute inflammatory condition like asthma.

Other uses for Bromelain

Bromelain has also been used for the treatment of diarrhoea, in which it was said to counteract the adverse effects of the toxins of the bowel bacterium Escherichia coli. It has been used in the treatment of disorders relating to damage to cells of the nervous system, including facial paralysis, stomatitis, glossitis (inflammation of the tongue) and olfactory (smell) disorders.

Other important effects include reduction in the risk of thrombosis, as well as strong evidence that it specifically enhances the effectiveness of the immune system against cancer through the increased secretion of ‘tumour necrosis factor’ which favours the killing of tumour cells.

Suggested use of Bromelain

The daily recommended dosage is one 500mg capsule with each meal.

This excerpt is taken from the course notes on Special Herbs – Part One (Folder 11) of the Nutritional Therapy diploma. For more information on our courses, go to www.revitalife.ca/revitalife-courses

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Naturopathic Nutritional Medicine is an immensely powerful tool. It is consistent with and works well alongside modern biochemistry, which studies in detail the metabolism inside the cells. It looks at all the ways in which the nutrients interact with and support metabolic processes. Modern biochemistry makes it clear that the nutrients are all required together, not just as individual items. It addresses the balances between them and their actual availability inside the cells. It addresses the enzyme reactions that they support.

The joy of it all is that all this biochemical evidence is supportive of the working principles of the Naturopaths of the last few centuries, who have worked to support “The Life Force”. What is this “Life Force”? Insofar as it is a subtle force, as yet undetected by Science, it attracts the derision of the sceptics. But one can choose whether or not to regard this as a subtle force. If that does not fall within your belief system, then you can simply look at the energetic flux of chemical change within the cells and equate that with the Life Force.

The fact is that the healthy cell is characterised by an ebullient metabolism, a dynamic system of energetic processes fuelled by ATP (adenosine triphosphate, the “energy currency of the cell). The cell’s ability to manufacture and utilize ATP is determined by the integrity of its enzyme systems and its intracellular structures.

The whole strategy of Naturopathic Nutritional Medicine is aimed at normalizing and activating the cells’ own internal systems. If the cells, and therefore the body, are ailing and sluggish, it aims to return the cellular metabolism to normal, and so restore vitality and health. The orthodox nutritionist is seemingly fumbling and at a loss if asked to take any action towards restoring health. He knows not what to do. His training has certainly not informed him as to what to do unless it is a straightforward nutritional deficiency illness like scurvy or beri-beri. So, in most cases of ill health he or she is powerless.