Pineapple–Aids in Digestion, Arthritis Pain, and Healing Sports Injuries
Pineapple–Aids in Digestion, Arthritis Pain, and Healing Sports Injuries

By Sandra Cesca

In addition to being juicy, sweet, and delicious, pineapple (Ananas comosus) has been used by natural healers since ancient times to ease stomach problems. Paradoxically, pineapples grow neither on pine nor apple trees—however, they were so-named in the 17th century because the term “apple,” at that time, was applied to unknown fruits—and it looked like a pinecone. Pineapple’s therapeutic value is mainly due to bromelain, a proteolytic enzyme. Bromelain is found in various supplements and herbal preparations and continues to be studied for its potential use in other medical applications.


Pineapples originated in South America. By the 15th century, they appeared in Europe and India thanks to the sailors who found that eating pineapples helped keep their health during their long voyages. Today, 100 different pineapple varieties are sold worldwide, mainly from Costa Rica, Brazil, the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, and India.


Pineapple compounds have several health benefits, including strengthening the immune system, helping with digestion, helping maintain the body’s acid-base balance, and reducing the risk of chronic inflammatory diseases.

The most important substance in pineapple is the enzyme bromelain. As a proteolytic enzyme, it helps break down the protein molecules in food for better absorption and digestion. This characteristic also has other beneficial actions in the body.


Pineapples contain fiber and potassium—both of which help maintain heart health by reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke. Potassium is vital in regulating blood pressure, and fiber helps lower cholesterol levels.

Pineapple antioxidants are flavonoids and phenolic compounds that reduce inflammation and damage from free radicals. One laboratory study on rats showed that these antioxidants may have heart-protective effects by reducing cardiac oxidative stress and inflammation.


The copper levels in pineapples may help maintain neural pathways in the brain, thus improving cognitive function. A 2017 study in Iran showed that pineapple juice positively affected the cognitive ability of memory-impaired mice to recognize objects. The researchers concluded that pineapple has the potential to treat some cognitive disorders, such as Alzheimer’s.

Pineapples may help mental health by reducing anxiety and improving mood due to their tryptophan and magnesium. Both are known to increase the body’s production of serotonin, the substance that elevates mood. Those suffering from depression and anxiety might include pineapple in their daily diets.


Cancer is a chronic disease characterized by uncontrolled cell growth. Its progression is linked to oxidative stress and chronic inflammation.

Pineapples contain cancer-fighting compounds, including quercetin, beta-carotene, bromelain, and vitamin C, known to strengthen the immune system and neutralize harmful free radicals, thus minimizing oxidative stress and reducing inflammation. In addition, bromelain has been shown to reduce tumor growth, induce cell death, and reduce inflammation.

One laboratory study found that bromelain suppressed the growth of breast cancer cells, and another study found that it inhibited the growth of colon cancer cells.

Studies continue to experiment on pineapple’s anti-cancer properties. Some cancer centers include pineapple in their patients’ daily diets.


Bromelain, the main digestive enzyme in pineapple, was first identified in 1891 and has been used as a dietary supplement for gastric upset and inflammation for over 50 years. Eight proteolytic substances have now been isolated from bromelain. Bromelain therapy is used with pancreatic insufficiency patients who cannot make enough digestive enzymes.

Not only does bromelain help digest the proteins in food, but pineapple fiber contributes to gut mobility and healthy elimination.

Sports Injuries

Because of its anti-inflammatory effect, particularly on muscles, joints, and soft tissue, bromelain is used for sports injuries and swelling. One clinical study demonstrated that bromelain administered to boxers “completely cleared all bruises on the face and hematomas of the orbits, lips, ears, chest, and arms in four days.”

The magnesium in pineapple is good for easing muscle cramps and fatigue.


A review of the scientific literature indicates bromelain may be a safer alternative treatment for osteoarthritis “due to its anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties.” One study found that people with inflammatory lower back arthritis benefited from bromelain supplements as much as from regular pain medications.


The first crucial step in burn or wound care is to ensure the area is treated before systemic complications such as inflammation and infection set in. Bromelain gel is often used to remove as much of the damaged skin as possible so cells can regrow with minimal scarring.

Several studies have shown that bromelain may reduce inflammation, swelling, bruising, and pain after surgery. Bromelain has also been found effective in controlling pain after periodontal surgery.

Many topical skin cosmetics contain bromelain for its exfoliation properties and ability to remove damaged tissue.

Sexual Health

Although specific scientific studies are minimal, many sex health professionals believe that the nutrition and known properties of pineapple can improve sexual health. The many benefits of bromelain are believed to help boost libido and sexual function, increase stamina and energy, and improve fertility.


The abundant attributes of pineapples, such as being high in fiber, low in calories, fat-free, and having numerous minerals and vitamins, can be found here.


  • Eating pineapples may lead to allergic reactions, including itching, swelling, and tingling in the mouth and throat.
  • The acidity in pineapple juice may cause heartburn or acid reflux in some people.
  • Excessive pineapple consumption can spike blood sugar levels.
  • Bromelain can interact with certain medications, including antibiotics, anticoagulants, and anticonvulsants.

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