Because weight loss is typically a long and difficult process, it can be tempting for dieters to purchase products that claim to shed pounds quickly, such as weight loss supplements. Bromelain is an ingredient sometimes used in these types of weight loss products. Because bromelain can cause serious complications, it is important for a dieter to understand its effectiveness and dangers before taking it.
The University of Maryland Medical Center explains that bromelain is a combination of enzymes derived from the juice and stem of a pineapple. For general use, 80 mg to 320 mg are typically swallowed two or three times per day. Although there are claims that bromelain can be used to encourage weight loss, it is more commonly used to reduce inflammation and swelling after a surgical procedure or infection.
The Candaian based company Ananas Inc. marketed weight loss products containing bromelain claiming that dieters could lose as much as 20 pounds in just two weeks without the addition of dietary or physical activity changes. The company also claimed that six to eight bromelain tablets taken every day could attack fat in the thighs, stomach, buttocks, hips and calves. The fat accumulations would then drain from the body, reducing its size.
Dr. Stephen Barrett of the Quackwatch website warns that there is no scientific evidence that proves bromelain can encourage weight loss. In fact, in 1995 the Pennsylvania Attorney General fined Ananas Inc., stating that all of its claims regarding bromelain were false and misleading. There is no proof that bromelain can be absorbed into the blood stream or attack fat. In addition, Dr. Barrett states that there is no over-the-counter product that can produce a reduction in weight without cutting back the amount of daily calories ingested.
The American Cancer Society explains that bromelain can cause side effects. Patients can experience vomiting, diarrhea, nausea and an increase in menstrual bleeding. The risks of bleeding can be increased if bromelain is taken with medications that thin the blood or aspirin. In addition, bromelain should not be mixed with other herbal supplements such as meadowsweet, feverfew, ginger, clove, chamomile or aniseed. This combination can slow down the body's ability to clot blood.
Because of the seriousness of the side effects, the University of Maryland Medical Center warns that bromelain should only be taken with the permission and supervision of a doctor. It should not be taken for more than 10 days in a row. Because asthma-like symptoms can develop, people who are allergic to pineapples should not take bromelain; neither should pregnant women, people with liver or kidney disease, high blood pressure or bleeding disorders.