My new patient P.D. came in to see me for a follow-up. He had been living with constant knee pain for a couple of years. He tried to dismiss it. “I’m just getting old, I guess,” he told me. P.D. is only 52. He’d been taking pills every day for his pain.
Big Pharma makes it very easy to believe that’s the only solution. Problem is, those drugs don’t do anything to stop the root cause of pain. And they can make things much worse.
Did you know NSAIDS like ibuprofen now carry a black box warning about increased risks of heart attack and stroke? That’s besides the effects that they don’t warn you about at all like ulcers and stomach bleeding.
It’s frustrating to me. Because for more than 20 years I’ve helped many patients end their joint pain naturally.
One of my favorite remedies is growing right outside my door here in South Florida. It’s a rainforest fruit that hides a potent pain reliving secret… the pineapple. It contains one of the most overlooked anti-inflammatory nutrients on the planet. An enzyme called bromelain.
I’ve put bromelain to the test in my own practice, and the science backs up what I’ve learned over the years. Bromelain is as effective as any over-the-counter pain drug at relieving pain and inflammation from osteoarthritis.1 In many clinical trials, it worked even better.
In a study from Germany, researchers divided 90 patients with painful osteoarthritis of the hip into two groups. One group received bromelain. The other group received the drug diclofenac. It’s sold under the brand name Voltaren® and other generic names.2
After six weeks, bromelain was just as effective as diclofenac in relieving pain, stiffness and improving physical function. People also had no side effects, which wasn’t true for the drug.
In another study doctors compared bromelain to diclofenac in 103 people who had osteoarthritis of the knee. One group of patients took only 90 mg of bromelain three times a day. The other group took 50 mg of the drug twice a day. Both groups reported the same reductions in joint tenderness, pain, and swelling. They also both had the same improvement in range of motion.3
But bromelain beat the drug in four important ways:
And British researchers found bromelain effective to relieve acute general knee pain. They gave people either either 200 mg or 400 mg of bromelain a day. At the lower dose patients reported 41% reduced pain. The higher dose reduced pain by 59%.
And as for side effects? There were none… except that the people taking bromelain reported a big improvement in overall psychological wellbeing!4
How does bromelain work? It has a mix of proteolytic enzymes. These help your body break down proteins. Tropical cultures have used the bromelain in pineapples for hundreds of years to help with digestion and to reduce inflammation.
A few hospitals have caught on to how bromelain can reduce pain without side effects. But they only use it to help people after surgery. Almost all other patients still get the drugs.
I advise my patients to take it before surgery to prevent inflammation.
I also recommend it before an intense workout. One study showed that taking bromelain for three weeks improved power and running times while eliminating inflammation.5
Eating a little fresh pineapple with your meals can help with digestion. But to lessen inflammation, you’ll need to eat about a cup of fresh pineapple every day.
And when you eat pineapple makes a difference. If you eat it with food or just after a meal it will help digest your food.
But if you take it on an empty stomach it will enter the blood faster and work systemically. That’s when you get the full anti-inflammatory benefits.
And be aware that bromelain is particularly concentrated in the core of the pineapple. That’s the part you probably throw away. But save the core. Chop it into chunks and use it in frozen smoothies.
To get bromelain’s effects a little faster and more consistently, you can take a supplement. But there are different forms. For the best pain relief benefits look for enteric-coated bromelain and take it on an empty stomach. But if you want the digestive benefits, stick with the regular capsules taken with meals.
Bromelain potency is measured in GDU (Gelatin Digesting Units). Try to get a capsule that is at or near 2,400 GDU. That’s the highest standardized potency you can get. I recommend you take 400-500 mg a day.
Bromelain can act as a blood thinner. So if you’re taking any anti-coagulant drugs, talk to your doctor and ask them why you need to be on the drug when there are natural alternatives that work just as well.
In fact, bromelain from pineapple is just one of many natural pain remedies that work better than drugs.
My colleagues at the Healthy Back Institute have put together a book with just this kind of information that can help you if you’re in pain.
It has natural remedies and many more ways to relieve arthritis and other pain without surgery, injections, or drugs.
It’s written by my colleague Dr. Mark Wiley. He writes from experience because as a young man he developed a brutal form of osteoarthritis that left him in constant pain. It was so bad he could barely walk. That was on top of migraines, neck, shoulder, and back pain.
After 15 years of studying with doctors and healers from around the world, he discovered the answers that gave him complete relief from years of misery.
I want you to hear his story. It’s inspiring. And his book also has a plan to completely relieve your pain naturally in just 30 days.
It is well worth a few minutes of your time to check it out. Just click here for more information.
To Your Good Health,
Al Sears, MD
1. Brien S, Lewith G, Walker A, Hicks SM, Middleton D. “Bromelain as a treatment for osteoarthritis: a review of clinical studies.” Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2004;1(3):251-7.
2. Klein G, Kullich W, Schnitker J, Schwann H. “Efficacy and tolerance of an oral enzyme combination in painful osteoarthritis of the hip. A double-blind, randomised study comparing oral enzymes with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.” Clin Exp Rheumatol. 2006;24(1):25-30.
3. Akhtar NM, Naseer R, Farooqi AZ, Aziz W, Nazir M. “Oral enzyme combination versus diclofenac in the treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee—a double-blind prospective randomized study.” Clin Rheumatol. 2004;23(5):410-5.
4. Walker AF, Bundy R, Hicks SM, Middleton RW. “Bromelain reduces mild acute knee pain and improves well-being in a dose-dependent fashion in an open study of otherwise healthy adults.” Phytomedicine. 2002;9(8):681-6.
5. Buford, T.W., Cooke, M.B., Redd, L.L, et al, “Protease supplementation improves muscle function after eccentric exercise,” Med. Sci. Sports Exerc. 2009;41(10):1908-14