The Spartan Guide to Bromelain
Derived from the juice and stems of pineapples, bromelain seems to cue the body to produce substances that fight pain and swelling, making it a natural anti-inflammatory. It’s used to treat hay fever, ulcerative colitis, and swollen nasal passages, especially after surgery (or a football to the schnozz).
When inflammation appears, bromelain can come to the rescue. “It works well for sinusitis, allergies, and digestion, and I’ve seen it in combination products for these illnesses,” says Sezelle Gereau, MD, an integrative ear, nose, and throat doctor at the Blum Center for Health in Rye Brook, NY. Some people also take the supplement to prevent muscle soreness after a super-tough workout, but the evidence suggests it probably doesn’t work that way.
Interestingly, bromelain seems to increase how much of an antibiotic the body absorbs. This is good news if your doctor’s concerned about the antibiotic’s efficacy, but it also means the bromelain might amplify antibiotics’ side effects, so keep your doctor in the loop before combining the two.
How to Use It
“Bromelain is very safe,” Dr. Gereau says. But you won’t get much it from food alone—not even if you chow down on pineapple. She recommends looking for a product that combines bromelain and quercetin, another inflammation-fighter, for optimal results. (And it’s worth noting: The supplement’s safety hasn’t been established for pregnant and breastfeeding women.)