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Chapter: Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry : Enzymes and Protein Drugs

Bromelin is a mixture of proteolytic enzymes isolated from the juice of Ananas comosus (pineapple), belonging to family Bromeliaceae.






Bromelin, bromelain.


Biological Source


Bromelin is a mixture of proteolytic enzymes isolated from the juice of Ananas comosus (pineapple), belonging to family Bromeliaceae.


Geographical Source


Pineapple is a native of tropical America. It is grown in almost all parts of the world including India, China, Thai-land, United States, Brazil, Philippines, Mexico, Hawaii, and Taiwan.


Cultivation, Collection, and Preparation


Bromelin is found in pineapple fruit juice and stem. Pine-apple is perennial, and it does not have a natural period of dormancy. It is propagated through suckers, slips, and crowns. In India it is planted in August, the plant generally flowers in February–March, and the fruit ripens during July–October.


The fruits must be left on the plant to ripen for the full flavour to develop. Dark green unripe fruits gradually change to yellow and finally to deep orange. The fruits are cut off. The enzyme bromelin does not disappear as the fruit ripens. The enzyme from fruit and stem are known as fruit bromelin and stem bromelin, respectively. It is isolated from pineapple juice by precipitation with acetone and also with ammonium sulphide




The optimum pH of bromelain is 5.0–8.0. In solution pH below 3.0 and above 9.5 inactivates the enzyme. The optimum temperature is between 50 and 60°C, still it is effective between 20 and 65°C too. The moisture content should not exceed 6%. It is obtained in light brown-coloured powder.


Chemical Constituents


Bromelain is not a single substance, but rather a collection of enzymes and other compounds. It is a mixture of sulphur-containing protein-digesting enzymes, called proteolytic enzymes or proteases. It also contains several other substances in smaller quantities, including peroxidase, acid phosphatase, protease inhibitors, and calcium.




Bromelain is an effective fibrinolytic agent; bromelain inhibits platelet aggregation and seems to have both direct as well as indirect actions involving other enzyme systems in  one of the primary uses of bromelain in several foreign countries; it can modify the permeability of organs and tissues to different drugs. The potentiation of antibiotics and other medicines by bromelain may be due to enhanced absorption, as well as increased permeability of the diseased tissue which enhances the access of the antibiotic to the site of the infection. It is also thought that the use of bromelain may provide a similar access to specific and nonspecific components of the immune system, therefore, enhancing the body’s utilization of its own healing resources. Bro-melain has been used successfully as a digestive enzyme following pancreatectomy, in cases of exocrine pancreas insufficiency and in other intestinal disorders. Research has indicated that bromelain prevents or minimizes the severity of angina pectoris and transcient ischemic attacks (TIA); it is useful in the prevention and treatment of thrombosis and thrombophlebitis. If administered for prolonged time periods, bromelain also exerts an antihypertensive effect in experimental animals. It may even be useful in the treat-ment of AIDS to stop the spread of HIV. It has no major side effects, except for possible allergic reactions.


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