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When you eat pineapples you’re also consuming a powerful enzyme known as bromelain. It’s assumed that this enzyme would not survive intact through the gut, but it does, and it’s absorbed by the body where it can do its magic in speeding up healing and improving your skin.
Pineapples are available all throughout the year, but I normally enjoy them in the summertime. I will either mix pineapple with other fruit or better throw some in a smoothie.
If you ever use pineapple in a smoothie, let the smoothie sit in the freezer after you bit! It’s tastes much better.
What is bromelain?
Bromelain is found in pineapples and part of a group of enzymes which can be found in pineapples and other fruits.
It has many effects such as being a potent anti-inflammatory, antithrombotic, and fibrinolytic. Studies have also shown that it is able to increase the absorption and effectiveness of natural compounds such as quercetin as well as antibiotics like doxycycline.
Several studies over the years have shown bromelains ability to help improve human health and fight against acute and chronic conditions.
One study has shown that 40% of bromelain ingested is absorbed from the intestine and retains its proteolytic activity in plasma and has a half-life of 6-9 hours. 
Studies have shown that bromelain is also extremely safe in humans when taken as a supplement.
Bromelain has been clinically tested in many different areas of medicine such as:
- Sports medicine
- Plastic surgery
- Allergy/Immunology (bromelain helps reduce allergy symptoms)
Bromelain improves skin healing
As already mentioned, bromelain has significant anti-inflammatory effects and these have been documented in several clinical trials.
Bromelain is effective because of the following reasons:
- Bromelain inhibits excessive inflammation and pro-inflammatory cytokines which may impair the healing process of the skin
- Bromelain is able to reduce edema
- Bromelain can improve the effectiveness of antibiotics and may be useful in improving recovery time and wound care
- Bromelain is able to help improve debridement of wounds which have the necrotic tissue in infections and burns
Although consuming bromelain either by eating pineapples or taking a supplement may benefit the skin, there is no better way to than to apply bromelain to the skin to deliver higher concentrations of the enzyme and to make it more effective.
Treatment of burns
Multiple studies have shown that proteolytic enzymes such as bromelain are able to significantly reduce the amount of time it takes for wounds to heal and close
In a study published in 2017, researchers took 26 subjects who were aged between 18 – 78 years and had suffered from facial burns.
Enzymatic debridement resulted in a much faster healing time compared to the group that used standard treatment.
The group who received bromelain treatment had their wounds close in 19 days compared to 42 days for the standard surgical debridement. Scar quality was also superior by the end of 12 months in the bromelain group.
In an earlier study published in 2014, researchers used bromelain for debridement of deep wounds. As with the previous study I mentioned, they showed significant results for the treatment group.
NXB cream, which contained bromelain, reduced the time to complete debridement. The results were 2.2 days for treatment vs 8.7 days for standard treatment.
The need for surgery was also much less at 24.5% for the bromelain group and 70% for standard treatment.
Plastic and facial reconstructive surgery
If you’re choosing to have a facelift or you need to get surgery on your face, you probably want the redness, swelling, and discomfort to go away pretty quickly.
This time, a study used a supplement containing vitamin C, grapeseed extract, and bromelain to see if it could improve healing time in healthy patients who had reconstructive surgery.
Over a period of seven days, patients were given four capsules per day. Out of the twenty-two patients who completed the trials, seventeen of them responded to the supplement with improvements in healing.
The supplement containing bromelain helped speed up healing time by 17 percent.
The wounds showed less inflammation and less redness overall. You can check out the study here.
Bromelain may be able to effectively treat some chronic skin conditions because of its anti-inflammatory, immune modulating effects, and anti-viral effects.
A skin condition called Pityriasis Lichenoides Chronica, which is characterized by small raised red spots or papules on the skin surface as well as significant scaling can be treated using bromelain.
In a study published in 2007, eight patients who had PLC were treated with bromelain for three months (40 mg, three times per day for 1 month) were all cured by taking bromelain.
How to use bromelain
As already mentioned, bromelain is effective when either taken as a supplement or applied directly to the skin.
There are many bromelain supplements to choose from at varying doses, these are usually measured in GDU (gelatin digesting units) per gram. Most supplements provide between 1000 to 3000 GDU.
Bromelain may also be included as an ingredient in face masks and facial cleansers. Here’s a vegan facial cleanser which contains both papaya and pineapple enzyme to help remove dead skin cells, reduce inflammation of the skin and provide a glowing complexion.
There are also many youtube videos showing how you can create your own pineapple face mask. Although this might be beneficial due to the vitamins, bromelain and other ingredients in pineapple, the amount of bromelain that will be delivered to the skin will be minimal.
Natural enzymes found in fruits can be useful as an adjunctive treatment with medical treatment or even be useful by itself in some cases. Bromelain has many beneficial effects which go beyond its ability to improve skin wound healing. It certainly deserves more recognition for its healing properties.