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What is Pineapple?

The well-known pineapple fruit is actually a complex flower head that forms around the stem. Each of the eyes on the surface is the dried base of a small flower. The pineapple is the only cultivated fruit whose main stem runs completely through it. The top crown of leaves contains a bud that, when mature, indicates that the fruit is ready for cutting. The crowns from the top of the fruit are usually used for propagation because pineapples contain no viable seeds; occasionally, slips from the base of the fruit or suckers are used if planting material is in short supply. The plant grows to a height of 1 m; the first crop is ready for harvesting approximately 18 months after planting. Because the plant uses water very efficiently, pineapple may be grown in areas of relatively low rainfall (50 to 200 cm).

Scientific Name(s)

Ananas comosus (L.) Merr. Family: Bromeliaceae

Common Name(s)

Pineapple, bromelain, Phlogenzym, Debridase

What is it used for?

Traditional/Ethnobotanical uses

The pineapple is native to South America and was brought to Europe by Spanish explorers. Planting began on a large scale in Hawaii early in the 19th century. Growth of the industry peaked in the 1950s, then declined slowly under the pressure of international competition. Today, the bulk of the world's pineapple crop comes from Thailand, the Philippines, and Brazil. Traditional uses include the brewing of pineapple wine, production of fiber, and medicinal use to induce menstruation, induce abortion, kill parasitic amoebas, and expel worms.

General uses

Few well-controlled clinical trials have been published to support the wide range of therapeutic claims for bromelain, a crude, aqueous extract of pineapple. Evidence exists primarily for the use of bromelain in debridement of burns and as an anti-inflammatory agent.

What is the recommended dosage?

Two slices of pineapple contain approximately 100 mg of ascorbic acid (vitamin C). The usual dosage of bromelain is 40 mg taken 3 or 4 times daily. Pineapple products are available commercially in liquid, tablet, and capsule doseforms. Most products contain bromelain 500 mg; manufacturers suggest a dose of 500 to 1,000 mg daily.


Hypersensitivity to any of the components in pineapple. Cross-reaction with honeybee venom, olive tree pollen, celery, cypress pollen, bromelain, and papain have been reported.


Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking. Data is lacking to support the historical use of pineapple to induce menstruation and abortion.


Potentiation of amoxicillin and tetracycline because of increased volume of distribution by bromelain has been documented.

Side Effects

The juice from unripe pineapples can cause severe vomiting. Bromelain ingestion is associated with a low incidence of adverse reactions, including diarrhea, excess menstrual flow, nausea, skin rash, and vomiting. Swelling of the mouth and cheeks can result from eating large amounts of the fruit.


Bromelain has very low toxicity.


1. Pineapple. Review of Natural Products. Facts & Comparisons 4.0. St. Louis, MO: Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc; January 2009. Accessed January 21, 2009.

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Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.