Headaches can appear for a number of reasons. Tension and stress often play a role in the dull, achy throb that radiates across your head for hours at a time. If you do not like taking medication to treat your headache, or if over-the-counter pain relievers are not working, some preliminary research suggests that an active ingredient in pineapple might help to ease the pain.
Headaches are a very common illness in the United States. Nearly 45 million Americans have recurring headaches and 90 percent of men and 95 percent of women have at least one headache in any given year, according to Medscape. Headaches can occur for a variety of reasons, such as tension, food sensitivity or sinus problems. Alcohol, dehydration and poor sleep also can trigger headaches in some people, and some people have chronic severe headaches known as migraines.
Bromelain is an enzyme found only in pineapples. In Central and South America, natives have used pineapple for centuries as a form of natural pain relief. Bromelain might be effective in treating a number of conditions, such as indigestion, arthritis pain, swelling, headaches, sinusitis and wounds. In Germany, bromelain has been approved as a treatment for swelling and inflammation following surgery, but currently there is not enough scientific evidence to determine if bromelain is effective in treating headaches.
Because bromelain is not an FDA-approved treatment, there is no recommended dose of pineapple for the treatment of headaches. Eat a standard serving size of fresh pineapple or drink one 8 oz. glass of pineapple juice when you have a headache. Bromelain also is available in supplement form. The German Commission E recommends 80 to 320 mg of the supplement two to three times per day. Bromelain is more effective on an empty stomach, so take it a couple of hours before eating or first thing in the morning.
Check with your physician first before taking bromelain as a supplement. Bromelain can interact with certain medications. If you are on antibiotics, bromelain might increase the amount of medication absorbed in your body. Bromelain also can interfere with blood thinners because it can affect your body's ability to clot blood. The supplement can increase the effects of sedatives, including alcohol. Bromelain can cause mild side effects such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea in some people.
- Medscape; AFPPA 2003: Headache Management -- Evaluation and Treatment: Headache Prevalence; Jim Meeks
- MayoClinic.com; Headache: Causes; April 2011
- Glamour; Got a Headache? Fresh Pineapple May Help Zap Your Pain; Sarah Jio; October 2010
- Medline Plus; Bromelain; November 2010
- University of Maryland Medical Center; Bromelain; Steven D. Ehrlich; March 2009
- Migraine Remedy: Bromelain Dosage Information