Bromelain & Sinusitis

Acute sinusitis can give you a severe stuffy nose by causing swelling of the tissues in the nasal passages. This swelling blocks drainage of mucus, allowing it to back up and making it difficult for you to breathe through your nose. It can cause painful throbbing in the front of your face and bring on a sinus headache. Sinusitis is typically treated with nasal sprays, corticosteroids and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, but there are some herbal treatments available, including bromelain. Check with your doctor before taking bromelain for sinusitis.

Bromelain is an enzyme found in pineapples that can be used to treat sinusitis. (Image: Ingram Publishing/Ingram Publishing/Getty Images)

Bromelain for Sinusitis

Bromelain is a protein-digesting enzyme found naturally in the fruit, juice and stem of the pineapple plant. Pineapple is a tropical fruit found growing in Central and South America, traditionally used by Native peoples to treat a variety of ailments. Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, bromelain is used to reduce swelling in the nasal passages. It may also decrease mucus production, allowing mucus to drain and relieve facial pressure and headache commonly experienced with sinusitis. The scientific journal "Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences" reports in its August 2001 edition that bromelain is being studied for a variety of medicinal uses, including sinusitis. The American Cancer Society states that three different clinical studies found it beneficial in the treatment of sinusitis caused by infection, but it may not be as effective for allergic sinusitis.

Taking Bromelain

Bromelain is available as a dietary supplement that comes in tablet or capsule form of various strengths. You can also obtain bromelain by eating fresh pineapple, but generally not enough to produce any medicinal effects. The University of Maryland Medical Center lists the adult standard dose as 80 to 320 mg per day taken in divided doses; it is not recommended for children. You should take bromelain on an empty stomach to receive its maximum benefit.

Side Effects

Bromelain is considered to be safe when taken in the recommended dosage. There are some side effects, including diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain and menorrhagia, or extremely heavy menstrual bleeding. You can have an allergic response to bromelain, particularly if you allergic to pineapple, kiwi, papaya, wheat, honeybee stings and latex. Allergic symptoms include itching, skin rash, shortness of breath and swelling of the mouth. If you develop allergy symptoms, report it to your doctor at once.

Precautions

Bromelain can interact with some medications, so take it only under supervision of your physician. Do not take bromelain if you pregnant because it can cause heavy uterine bleeding. Bromelain decreases blood clotting time, so you should not take it if you have a bleeding disorder, high blood pressure, are taking blood thinner medication or other herbs that slow blood clotting, such as angelica, gingko biloba, horse chestnut or fenugreek. Bromelain may increase the effects of sedative medications and herbs, including alprazolam, amitriptyline, kava and valerian. Be aware that potatoes and soybeans contain an enzyme that interferes with the action of bromelain. You should discontinue using bromelain two weeks before surgery because of bleeding risks.

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