Bromelain refers to a general name for the family of sulfhydryl-containing proteolytic enzymes derived from the pineapple plant. Being a pineapple extract, it is obtained from the fruit or stem of the pineapple plant. Typically, bromelain refers to the “stem bromelain.” It encompasses a mixture of protein-digesting enzymes whose mechanism of action is the hydrolysis of glycosidic linkages in glycoprotein. It is a mixture of various thiol endopeptidases, and other non-protein components such as glucosidase, phosphatase, peroxidase, cellulose, escharase and several other protease inhibitors. However, it is the proteolytic factors that mainly confer its therapeutic functions. Its ability to get absorbed without losing its proteolytic activity or producing any major side effects contributes to its effectiveness as a therapeutic agent.
Bromelain also exhibits proteolytic activity. Its role as an active protein-digesting enzyme enables the body to absorb nutrients more effectively thus helping in the treatment of digestive disorders. However, research shows that the pharmacologic activity of bromelain depends not only on the proteolytic properties but also non-protein factors
Bromelain supports wound healing by reducing the secretion of pro-inflammatory cytokines that may cause damage to the gut lining. It facilitates skin debridement that accelerates the wound healing process. This helps in its function at healing tissues. In addition, it is a natural alternative to synthetic analgesics. Apart from being efficacious, it is safe showing zero undesired side-effects. Its role in the relaxation and soothing of tense inflamed muscles and connective tissues has seen its use as a meat tenderizer as well.
The recommended daily allowance can reach up to 12mg/day without causing major side effects. Pineapples are one of the richest sources of bromelain. Notably, bromelain concentration is high in pineapple stem, compared to the fruit part. Although bromelain’s mode of action is not properly understood, its wide range of therapeutic benefits makes it an important molecule in the health field.