In some studies, bromelain has proven to be as effective in reducing swelling as anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen, naproxen, diclofenac (Voltaren) and Piroxicam (Feldene) [source: Ehrlich]. Patients suffering from osteo- and rheumatoid arthritis have experienced a reduction of pain and joint swelling when taking bromelain [source: Walker et al.]. Bromelain's anti-inflammatory effects may also alleviate pain and improve motor activity in patients with carpal tunnel syndrome [source: Wellness Trader].
Bromelain has been used to treat bronchitis, sinus infections and other respiratory conditions involving inflammation. Because it also can act as a blood thinner, it's been used to treat blood-related diseases like angina and thrombophlebitis, a condition characterized by blood clots causing swelling in the veins, particularly in the legs [source: Medline Plus].
Bromelain helps relieve indigestion and stomach aches by breaking down proteins. It is especially effective when combined with enzymes that digest carbohydrates (such as amylase) and fats (such as lipase) [source: Ehrlich].
Applied topically, bromelain is the source of a commercial product used after burns for removing dead skin cells, a process called debridement [source: Medline Plus]. But when putting anything into your body, you should exercise caution. Read on to find out why.