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Bromelain as a Treatment for Osteoarthritis: a Review of Clinical Studies

PainSci » bibliography » Brien et al 2004
Tags: arthritis, chronic pain, medications, nutrition, aging, pain problems, self-treatment, treatment

One page on PainSci cites Brien 2004: Vitamins, Minerals & Supplements for Pain & Healing

PainSci commentary on Brien 2004: ?This page is one of thousands in the bibliography. It is not a general article: it is focused on a single scientific paper, and it may provide only just enough context for the summary to make sense. Links to other papers and more general information are provided wherever possible.

A 2004 review in Evidence-based Complementary & Alternative Medicine of a dozen studies of bromelain. Despite a blatant conflict of interest — Brien works for a bromelain supplement manufacturer — the review seems balanced, and the authors do not fail to point out weaknesses in the evidence or concerns about adverse effects. They wisely emphasize that alternative medications must not just be effective, but also safer than existing medications. Their conclusion is cautiously positive, and it does seem to be justified by the evidence reviewed: clearly bromelain does something to help people with painful osteoarthritis. “The currently available data do indicates the potential of bromelain in treating osteoarthritis.”

~ Paul Ingraham

original abstract Abstracts here may not perfectly match originals, for a variety of technical and practical reasons. Some abstacts are truncated for my purposes here, if they are particularly long-winded and unhelpful. I occasionally add clarifying notes. And I make some minor corrections.

Bromelain, an extract from the pineapple plant, has been demonstrated to show anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties and may provide a safer alternative or adjunctive treatment for osteoarthritis. All previous trials, which have been uncontrolled or comparative studies, indicate its potential use for the treatment of osteoarthritis. This paper reviews the mechanism of its putative therapeutic actions, those clinical trials that have assessed its use in osteoarthritis to date, as well as considering the safety implications of this supplement for osteoarthritis and reviewing the evidence to date regarding the dosage for treating this condition. The data available at present indicate the need for trials to establish the efficacy and optimum dosage for bromelain and the need for adequate prospective adverse event monitoring in such chronic conditions as osteoarthritis.

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