Arthritis pain can be quite a challenge. Because it usually lasts for months or years, any medication that will be used must be super-safe for the long term. Few drugs meet that criterion, but some home remedies do. Readers have let us know that they have had success with pineapple juice or bromelain, an enzyme found in pineapples.
Pineapple Juice for Arthritis Pain:
Q. Years ago, you wrote about an enzyme in pineapple juice that helps with arthritis pain. At that time I was in my early 40s and already having pain in my hands and feet from arthritis.
I started drinking one glass of pineapple juice a day and my symptoms cleared up. I may eventually develop arthritis, but hopefully it will not be as severe as it would have been.
A. Pineapple juice contains bromelain, which appears to have anti-inflammatory activity. One study found that a product containing bromelain (Phlogenzym) was effective in easing discomfort from hip arthritis (Clinical and Experimental Rheumatology, Jan-Feb, 2006).
Another study (Arthrtis and Rheumatism, Aug 15, 2009) found that Canadian postal workers who were suffering from shoulder pain (rotator cuff tendinitis) for more than six weeks benefitted from naturopathic care. It involved dietary counseling, acupuncture and Phlogenzym. This group had better outcomes (greater improvement in shoulder function) than a comparable group that received physical exercise as their primary treatment.
Bromelain for Racers:
A group of German researchers are planning a randomized controlled trial of marathon runners to see whether pineapple-derived enzymes and other flavonoids can reduce inflammation and upper respiratory tract infections after a race (BMC Sports Science, Medicine and Rehabilitation, Feb. 22, 2014). Although they published their protocol, we have not yet seen the results of this study.
Bromelain has been shown to reduce fatigue in cyclists during a multi-day race (European Journal of Sports Science, March, 2016).
Fighting Inflammation and Modulating the Immune Response:
Researchers are increasingly interested in the anti-inflammatory and immunomodulating activity of bromelain. Although pineapple and pineapple juice have been used for decades to relieve joint pain, investigators are just now starting to unlock the cellular mechanisms behind this natural approach (Phytotherapy Research, Feb, 2013).
Anyone who would like to learn more about natural anti-inflammatory spices such as ginger, boswellia and turmeric as well as foods and beverages like grape juice, blueberries, coconut and pineapple may wish to read our book, Quick & Handy Home Remedies from The People’s Pharmacy. We have a whole section on anti-inflammatory foods like pineapple.