The connection, of course, is bromelain, which comes from pineapples.

During his second voyage to the Caribbean in 1493 Columbus found this sweet-tasting fruit. He thought it resembled a pinecone, so he called it “Pine of the Indies.” When Columbus showed the fruit to the English, an “apple” was already a popular fruit. So, in order to enhance its appeal, he added “apple” to the name, making it a “pineapple.”

Here’s the CAM connection.
Bromelain (aka bromeline, pineapple enzyme, pineapple extract, Ananase, Traumanase) is a digestive enzyme extracted from the stem and fruit of pineapples (Ananas comosus, family Bromeliaceae). The MedlinePlus review states, “When taken with meals, bromelain is believed to assist in the digestion of proteins. When taken on an empty stomach, it is believed to act medicinally as an anti-inflammatory agent.”

The expert panel, the German Commission E, approved bromelain for the treatment of swelling/inflammation of the nose and sinuses caused by injuries and surgery in 1993.

“Good” scientific evidence (level B) for its use can be found for 2 uses.


  • Preliminary studies suggest bromelain taken by mouth can reduce inflammation or pain caused by inflammation.
  • Better quality studies are needed to confirm these results

Sinusitis (sinus inflammation)

  • Bromelain might be a useful addition to other therapies (such as antibiotics) due to its ability to reduce inflammation/swelling.
  • Studies report mixed results, although overall bromelain appears to be beneficial for reducing swelling and improving breathing.
  • Better studies are needed before a strong recommendation can be made.

For other potential uses, the scientific evidence is unclear.

  • Burn debridement
  • Cancer
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Digestive enzyme/pancreatic insufficiency
  • Nutrition supplementation
  • Osteoarthritis of the knee
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Steatorrhea (fatty stools due to poor digestion)
  • Urinary tract infection

10/6/07 14:34 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.