a pineapple with a juice straw sticking out of the top of it, bromelain

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.

Revised 3/21/16

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  1. Leise

    I recently discovered Dole Tropical Gold Premium Pineapple Chunks, canned in pineapple juice. If you can’t get fresh pineapple this is the closest thing I’ve found, but I can only find it at Costco.

  2. Susan

    I’m happy that so many people are being helped by pineapple. Wish I could eat it. Bromelain upsets my stomach. Am I the only one?

    • Gio

      Most probably is not the bromelain causing you stomach issues but the acidity of the pineapple.

      Most people eat unripe pineapples. Are you getting your pineapples fully ripe? They should be sweet and not acidic.

      Also, you can help by having the freshly made juice with carrots and kiwis or you can try with some lettuce.

  3. Egyptiononion
    Rural Illinois

    Does the pineapple juice need to be fresh, or can it be canned? Thank you.

    • Amethyst

      I have read in research that canning destroys the enzyme in pineapple, so fresh would be best. I, myself, have bought organic, cold-pressed juice at a natural food store and that helps me.

      I don’t have the room for a juicer, nor the time to do it myself at home. Or you can try bromelain supplements.

  4. Annandale El
    Annandale, VA

    I love Pineapple slices and was eating them for my arthritis. Had to stop as it had a diuretic effect on me.

    • Gio

      Since when a diuretic effect is something we should avoid?

  5. Heather

    Have started (2 weeks) on organic Turmeric, seems to give some relief and have also lost some weight on it. I do get relief from pineapple juice too although something has happened to Australian pineapples and they are awful. Pineapples all come from Thailand now.

    I found SAMe methionine also helps my Rheumatoid. About to get a blood test for ESR/CRP. I was told they don’t test Rh.Factor any more as they don’t know how it works ?

    • Frances
      Cabarlah, Qld.

      Heather, unless the crop wiped out by cyclone, we still get tasty pineapple grown in Queensland. Pineapple doesn’t ripen after it is picked, so don’t wait for it to turn yellow; then, it is too old.

      • Gio

        In a way it does. Sugar content increases, acidity decreases and thus it becomes easier to eat and digest but, yes, it doesn’t become yellow ;-)

    • Linda

      I work in a lab and yes, RA is still a test that doctors order. It is often accompanied by other autoimmune tests.

  6. Helen M
    Modesto, CA

    There is a lot of sugar in pineapple juice, may be a problem for some people, especially those keeping to a low carb/GI diet. The fruit might be better because of fiber, factors other than bromelain.

  7. Margie

    I can’t drink that much pineapple juice, although I do love it! I started taking Bromelain 500 mg after sinus surgery. I do not take it every day but two or three times a week. It is great for any kind of inflammation. It helps with constipation, sinus blockage, pain management.
    It is something to look into. Not everyone can take it due to allergies to pineapple.

  8. Peggy

    About a year ago, my husband complained about our morning walks because his hips hurt. He started eating several pineapple chunks each morning, which he continues, and his pain quickly went away and has not come back.

  9. Alton
    Arkansas Ozarks

    Bromelain is the enzyme in the fresh pineapple and especially the fruit core. Bromelain is available in a capsule form and you can avoid the calories and sugar that you get in the fresh fruit. I found it on line and is sold in servings equivalent 2,000 GDU per cap. Inexpensive and it works for me. Dr Andrew Weil recommends taking on empty stomach 90 min before meal or 3 hours after that is working for me. Lots of good anti-inflammatory natural supplements to block the Cox-1 & Cox-2 enzyme. Just search and listen to your body it will always tell you what works for you and what does not.

    I am 84 and told 15 years ago that I was ready for a shoulder replacement then 8 years ago that my right hip was gone and I was ready for a hip replacement and then that both knees would be right behind that. I sought a second opinion on the shoulder replacement and honest Orthopedic surgeon suggested that as long as I could control the pain to avoid the surgery. His reasoning was I should suffer some pain before because he could stop the pain but unless I did his PT after that his work was wasted and I understood that and have taken his advice. I try to research the natural remedies as much as possible and my lab numbers are perfect for my age. Good care is available if you are willing to do your own research and learn listen to your body, it will always tell you. Since all of our bodies different you have to try maybe won’t work for you, listen to your body, my theory is if I don’t have a reaction give it 3 weeks before making it a part of my routine.

    Consider a good Ginger Complex, Turmeric/Cur-cumin, BioPerine, Fish Oil, Boswellia, and many other remedies in the People’s Pharmacy publications maybe you can avoid all pain blocking drugs & blood thinners, I have.

    • Alton
      in the Arkansas Ozarks

      This is update to my post dated 8/21/2015. Time for the hip replacement it is affecting my mobility. I realize surgery is never the magic bullet but I have no choice, I want to be able to walk with my family. So then best to choose wisely your surgeon and the hospital for best chances for a successful procedure. I have tried to do that and on he morning of 3/31/16 I’ll be in the OR. Prayers are welcome. Alton Owens said that.

  10. Marilyn
    Lawrenceville, NJ

    Am avoiding all fruit but berries. Can I use a supplement containing the same enzyme in pineapple juice? As effective?

  11. Jb

    Some recommend Wobenzym for joint pain and inflammation. I know it contains pineapple and papaya enzymes. How effective is it? Should I just drink a glass of pineapple juice each day? Would that be just as effective?

  12. Tom H.

    How much pineapple juice is recommended?

  13. Lisa H.

    I use Curcumin… it seems to help. Though due to high lab reading on my RH Factor recently, will be seeing a specialist in a few months. All other labs were normal..go figure.

  14. JBG

    “[In] our book, Quick & Handy Home Remedies from The People’s Pharmacy. We have a whole section on anti-inflammatory foods like pineapple.”
    Looking at my copy (National Geographic, 2011 — almost didn’t find the date since it’s hidden at the end of the book), I could not find the “whole section on anti-inflammatory foods”. There is a long list of foods that includes some anti-inflammatory ones, but there is no obvious cue as to which are which. (Did you mean them all??) There is no entry beginning “inflam-” in the index. There does seem to be at least one related recipe.
    People’s Pharmacy response: You’ll find them in the section on joint pain and arthritis.

  15. nazir l.

    this information has been very helpful to me.

  16. msc

    Boswellia seems to be practically a miracle drug for my arthritis pain. Have been able to cut way back (from 2/day to 1 or 2 per week) on Celebrex.

  17. Rob

    I have also been using pineapple since reading about it on your site several years ago. For some reason it is effective for the joint pain in my hands, but not hips/knees/shoulders – but I’m grateful for help! As I can no longer have juice, I have substituted a slice of fresh pineapple each day.

    • Rob

      Update : since going completely grain-free & dairy-free, ALL my joint pain has miraculously disappeared! I had reached the stage of thinking I would have to be put into care – at 50ish – as it was like being permanently post-op, needing help to sit or stand, in & out of bed, unable to get dressed, etc. I could not stand for longer than c1/2 a minute at a time, & was unable to stretch or reach things for myself.

      Initially I tried going gluten-free, but soon found that things like rice or corn were also causing the pain – the smallest amount sent me right back into excruciating pain for a couple of months each time. I even found that inhaling wheat flour whilst baking for my husband was enough to do the same, also hand creams, etc, with wheat in the ingredients.

      Another – & instant benefit has been that I no longer need any asthma inhalers, (after years of chronic bronchitis, & asthma-induced emergency trips to hospital.) For anyone feeling as desperate as I was, it is certainly worth a try!

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