Did you ever think that an "aspirin substitute" could come in the form of a digestive enzyme? Think again.
Bromelain is a digestive enzyme extracted from the pineapple plant. It is referred to as a "protease," which means it breaks down proteins, reducing them to their basic building blocks.
Almost 500 years ago, Christopher Columbus and his crew "discovered" the pineapple on the Caribbean Island of Guadeloupe. Even then, they were amazed at its medicinal uses. Natives used the juice to aid in digestion of meat and cure stomachaches. Women used it to beautify their skin and warriors used it to improve the healing of their wounds. Recent research suggests that the pineapple (more specifically bromelain, which is extracted from the stem) may be one of the best tools we can use to help prevent and even treat heart disease.
Research has continually shown that the clots formed in arteries are composed largely of protein (fibrin). These clots also contain particles of various fats and cholesterol, but the protein mesh of fibrin seems to be the culprit holding the clot together. In fact, the new clot-busting drugs that have been shown to dissolve 70 percent of the clots in heart patients, work by breaking down the protein fibrin!
Bromelain works much the same way as these new miracle clot-busting drugs. (Just like streptokinase, bromelain stimulates the conversion of plasminogen to plasmin, which in turn helps break down fibrin clots.) Even more surprising, bromelain may be able to "clean" arteries of atherosclerotic plaquing before a problem occurs. In an animal study, bromelain broke down arteriosclerotic plaque in the aortas of rabbits.
Bromelain also has been shown to be very effective in treating inflammation, again without the side effects of aspirin or the non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like Motrin, Advil, Midol, etc. In fact, even the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis has been effective using 2,250 mg of bromelain twice daily between meals. In one study, over 70 percent of those on the program experienced good to excellent results of less joint swelling, less pain and more mobility.
Bromelain is sold in health food stores everywhere as a digestive aid and is generally considered very safe, without any known side effects. After all, it comes from pineapple juice, which again has been used medicinally for hundreds, if not thousands of years.
Most studies recommend between 2,000 and 4,000 mg daily. When taken to ease common digestive problems, it should be taken after meals. If you are using this digestive enzyme for inflammation and as an aspirin substitute, it is best taken between meals.