Nutrition Notes

Bromelain’s Unique Role in Oral Wellness

Bromelain is a proteolytic enzyme derived from pineapple (Ananas comosus) fruit and stems. It has been shown in research to help support the inflammatory response, cellular health, cardiovascular function, and a normal immune response. Evidence suggests that bromelain may also help support certain aspects of oral wellness.

Studies indicate that bromelain may help support oral hygiene and healthy tooth coloration. A laboratory study assessed the potential brightening effects of bromelain when applied in vitro three times daily once per week for 4 weeks on bovine dental discs. The authors reported that the color change caused by bromelain was greater than the human perceptibility threshold.  Gels containing bromelain also showed similar improvement in whiteness index as compared to a whitening gel containing carbamide peroxide.

Bromelain may help support certain aspects of the inflammatory response in the oral cavity. A randomized controlled trial explored the potential efficacy of supplementation with bromelain on inflammation and edema after wisdom tooth extraction. The study involved 75 individuals between the ages of 15 and 40. The intervention consisted of two periods of daily supplementation with bromelain for 9 days starting the day before surgery. Postoperative swelling was shown to have greater improvement in all treatment groups when compared to placebo.          

A laboratory study investigated the effects of bromelain on human dental pulp cells in the presence of lipopolysaccharide. Bromelain was shown to help decrease interleukin (IL)β, IL-6, IL-8, intercellular adhesion molecules-1 (ICAM-1), and vascular cell adhesion molecules-1 (VCAM-1). ICAM-1 and VCAM-1 have been shown to promote the inflammatory response in dental pulp. Significant decreases in phosphorylation levels of extracellular signal-related kinases and p38 mitogen-activated kinases were also observed. Bromelain has also been shown to help inhibit the nuclear factor-κB pathway.

Bromelain may also support a healthy response to certain bacteria. Laboratory studies indicate that it has the potential to help inhibit the growth of Pseudomonas gingivalis in the oral cavity. Evidence suggests it may also help promote the body’s response to certain bacteria common to some oral infections; bromelain has been shown to help support the inhibition of bacterial growth of Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus sanguis (S. sanguis), S. mutans, and Enterococcus faecalis. It has also been shown to help support a healthy response to enterotoxins released by Escherichia coli and Vibrio cholerae in the digestive tract. It has been shown to help protect against adhesion in the intestinal mucosa through the enzymatic modification of glycoprotein receptor binding sites. It has also been shown to help support the inhibition of cGMP signaling pathways activated by certain bacterial toxins.

Evidence suggests that bromelain may support normal inflammatory response and the body’s response to certain bacteria. While more research is needed, bromelain may also help support periodontal health and oral hygiene.

By Dr. C Ambrose, ND, MAT