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Bromelain is
Bromelain Herb
not a single substance, but rather a collection of enzymes and other compounds. It is a mixture of sulfur-containing protein-digesting enzymescalled proteolytic enzymes or proteasesand several other substances in smaller quantities including: peroxidase, acid phosphatase, protease inhibitors, and calcium. It is primarily produced in Japan and Taiwan. Research on bromelain apparently was first conducted in Hawaii but more recently has been conducted in countries in Asia, Europe and Latin America. Germany has recently taken a great interest in bromelain research, where bromelain is currently the 13th most widely used herbal medicine.

Bromelain is present in all parts of the pineapple plant (Ananas comosus) but the stem is the most common commercial source, presumably because it readily available after the fruit has been harvested. Pineapples have had a long tradition as a medicinal plant among the natives of South and Central America. However, just eating pineapple will not give you a great deal of extra bromelain, because it is mostly concentrated in the stem, which is not nearly as tasty (albeit still edible).

Along with papain, bromelain is one of the most popular enzymes for meat tenderizing. Historically, meat tenderizing enzymes were often injected into the muscle of a food animal while it is still living. This practice has been largely discontinused, replaced with various postmortem application methods which are acceptable for lesser quality cuts. Today, approximately 90% of meat tenderizer use is in consumer households. Bromelain is sold in a powdered form, which is combined with a marinade or directly sprinkled on the uncooked meat. The enzyme will penetrate the meat, and by a process called forking, cause the meat to be tender and pallatible when cooked. If the enzyme is allowed to work for too long, the meat may become too "mushy" for many consumers' preferences.

Bromelain can be used in a vast array of medical conditions. It was first introduced in this area in 1957, and works by blocking some proinflammatory metabolites
Bromelain Herb
that accelerate and worsen the inflammatory process. It is an anti-inflammatory agent, and so can be used for sports injury, trauma, arthritis, and other kinds of swelling. Its main uses are athletic injuries, digestive problems, phlebitis, sinusitis, and aiding healing after surgery. It has also been proposed in the use of arthritis, chronic venous insufficiency, easy bruising, gout, hemorrhoids, menstrual pain, autoimmune disorders, and ulcerative colitis. Studies have shown that bromelain can also be useful in the reduction of platelet clumping and blood clots in the bloodstream, especially in the arteries. It may even be useful in the treatment of AIDS to stop the spread of HIV. It has no major side effects, except for possible allergic reactions.

Bromelain is prepared from the stump or root portion of the pineapple plant after harvest of the fruit. This stump or root portion is collected from the fields, peeled and crushed to extract the juice containing the soluble Bromelain enzyme. Further processing includes precipitation of the enzyme to further purify it. This process is carried out in factories under strictly controlled conditions to assure microbiological quality and enzyme purity. The Bromelain products are all supplied as powders.

Other useful herb information: Cats Claw | Pennyroyal | Hyssop | Valerian | Noni | Muira Puama | Butterbur

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