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Bromeline "Diet Pills"

Stephen Barrett, M.D.

Question

I have seen ads for diet pills whose special ingredient is said to be bromelain from pineapples? Do they work?

Answer

Bromelain (also spelled bromelin) is a mixture of protein-digesting and milk-clotting enzymes found in the juice and stem of the pineapple plant Ananas comosus (Linné) Merr (Fam Bromeliancaea). A leading textbook of pharmacognosy (plant medicine) states that bromelain is used to make protein hydrolysates, to tenderize meat, and in the leather industry [1]. I know of no scientific evidence that bromelain digests fats or is effective as part of a weight-reduction regimen.

In 1995, the Pennsylvania Attorney General obtained an injunction against Ananas, Inc., a Canadian company that was marketing bromeline products in Pennsylvania [2]. The company's claims included:

The Attorney General charged that all of the above statements was fraudulent, false, or misleading. The Complaint noted that the company had received approximately 11,000 orders totaling $385,000. I served as a consultant in the case. My report pointed out:

References

1. Tyler VE, Brady LR, Robbers JE. Pharmacognosy, 9th edition. Philadelphia, Lea & Febiger, 1988.
2. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania vs. Ananas, Inc, and Margaret Agnes Lebovits. Civil action No. 95-165, Court of Common Please of Centre County. Judicial order, Jan 24, 1995.

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This Article was posted on October 18, 1999.