1. Biotech

Sources, Functions and Therapeutic Applications of Bromelain

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Bromelain is closely related to pineapple. Chemist Vicente Marcano first discovered bromelain in pineapple in 1891, and then another chemist, Russell Henry Chittenden, extracted bromelain from pineapple fruit, which was then called “proteolytic enzyme in pineapple juice”. Scientists have found that ripe pineapple stems have higher levels of bromelain. Many tropical fruits, such as papaya, mango, guava and pineapple, also contain a large amount of protease. Protease plays a role in regulating the development of these tropical plant species and has a certain impact on their photosynthesis.


The only source of bromelain is the pineapple plant. This enzyme is usually extracted from pineapple stems or pineapple fruit, but other parts of the pineapple plant also have bromelain in lower amounts. No other fruits have been found to contain bromelain. Depending on the extraction location, the bromelain mixture is divided into two types:


  1. Stem Bromelain (SBM)

As the name suggests, this type of bromelain is extracted from the stem of the pineapple plant by centrifugation, ultrafiltration or freeze-drying, and is widely available in the market. Because it is cheaper to extract and the pineapple stem is basically worthless.


  1. Fruit Bromelain (FBM)

Bromelain in pineapple fruit has better proteolytic activity than bromelain in pineapple stem, but fruit bromelain is not widely used due to its high raw material cost.


Scientific Research Value of Bromelain

In a study conducted by the Manipal School of Dentistry, researchers observed that bromelain, papain, and others help prevent plaque and gingivitis symptoms in patients undergoing fixed orthodontic treatment. The findings suggest that bromelain, along with these natural ingredients, can be used as a dentifrice to effectively reduce the risk of poor dental health in people with braces or dental appliances.


There are also studies showing that through the use of bromelain, the metastasis of cancer cells can be stopped or slowed down, which can have a positive impact on cancer treatment. In a study conducted in 2013, scientists observed that bromelain had a direct effect on the growth and spread of gastrointestinal cancer cells, with the main mechanisms involved in promoting apoptosis in cancer cells and activating cancer cell death. Not only can bromelain promote apoptosis by regulating the caspase system and extranuclear p53, it can also render cancer cells non-viable by blocking the Akt pathway and attenuating Bc12 and MUC1 proteins. These advances have further research value in cancer treatment.


The scientists also investigated the ability of bromelain to inhibit adipogenesis, which is important for obesity prevention. A study conducted at the Institute of Microbiological Technology in 2012 showed that bromelain can reduce adipogenesis by inhibiting adipogenesis and promoting apoptosis in mature adipocytes.


Bromelain in Daily Use

Due to its complex composition, bromelain is used to treat or reduce symptoms of disease, and bromelain can also be used in other ways in life.


  1. Localized burns

Bromelain can assist in the removal of dead skin cells in third-degree burns and in the healing of first- and second-degree burns. However, for severe burns, do not use any bromelain ointment without medical advice.


  1. Indigestion and bloating

Bromelain is known to have a strong degrading effect on digestion, and bromelain helps relieve indigestion and bloating [3], especially when taken with other enzymes.


  1. To reduce inflammation

Applying bromelain ointment directly to an insect bite can reduce inflammation and discomfort.


  1. Accelerate wound healing

Using bromelain after surgery can promote soft tissue healing and reduce bruising, and wounds heal faster in patients who take bromelain than those who don't.


  1. Relieve the symptoms of sinusitis

Sinusitis is inflammation of the lining of the sinuses, usually caused by infection, nasal problems, or allergies. Bromelain is a supplement known to relieve symptoms of sinusitis.



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