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Home > Living Well > Health Library > Bromelain for Sports & Fitness
Some athletes say that bromelain helps to reduce pain associated with sports injuries, such as sprains and strains.
Bromelain is most effective for injuries in which there is a congestion of blood or heavy bruising. Because it is a protein digestive agent, bromelain digests trapped blood byproducts. It is more effective for sprains and strains than it is for joint pain.
When using bromelain, continue to take it until the swelling and blood stagnation is gone; this can last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.
Typically, 2 to 4 tablets or capsules are taken several times per day. Other uses of bromelain for sports and fitness have not been studied.
Bromelain is generally safe and free of side effects when taken in moderate amounts. However, one preliminary report indicates increased heart rate with the use of bromelain.1 In addition, some people are allergic to bromelain. One woman reportedly developed a hives and severe swelling after taking bromelain, even though she had tolerated bromelain on two other occasions previously.2
Because bromelain acts as a blood thinner and little is known about how bromelain interacts with blood-thinning drugs, people should avoid combining such drugs with bromelain in order to reduce the theoretical risk of excessive bleeding.
Certain medicines interact with this supplement.
When taken with amoxicillin, bromelain was shown to increase absorption of amoxicillin in humans. When 80 mg of bromelain was taken together with amoxicillin and tetracycline, blood levels of both drugs increased, though how bromelain acts on drug metabolism remains unknown. An older report found bromelain also increased the actions of other antibiotics, including penicillin, chloramphenicol, and erythromycin, in treating a variety of infections. In that trial, 22 out of 23 people who had previously not responded to these antibiotics did so after adding bromelain taken four times per day.
Doctors will sometimes prescribe enough bromelain to equal 2,400 gelatin dissolving units (listed as GDU on labels) per day. This amount would equal approximately 3,600 MCU (milk clotting units), another common measure of bromelain activity.
One report found bromelain improved the action of antibiotic drugs, including penicillin and erythromycin, in treating a variety of infections. In that trial, 22 out of 23 people who had previously not responded to the antibiotics did so after adding bromelain four times per day. Doctors will sometimes prescribe enough bromelain to equal 2,400 gelatin dissolving units (listed as GDU on labels) per day. This amount would equal approximately 3,600 MCU (milk clotting units), another common measure of bromelain activity.
In theory, bromelain might enhance the action of anticoagulants. This theoretical concern has not been substantiated by human research, however.
Bromelain is found mostly in the stems of pineapples and is available as a dietary supplement.
Last Review: 05-24-2015
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