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For more information, go to www.arthritisresearchuk.org

Can bromelain be used as a replacement to diclofenac?

Q) I suffer from osteoarthritis and take diclofenac when the pain is very bad, plus 20 mg of omeprazole daily to ease the stomach. I recently read an article about bromelain, suggesting that it's a possible replacement for diclofenac without the possible side-effects. Are you able to offer any advice on this please?
W E Higham, Durham, County Durham (Winter 2005)

A) Bromelain is a general name for a family of enzymes obtained from the pineapple plant. Many claims for the beneficial effect of this substance have been made, including anti-inflammatory, anti-thrombotic and pro-digestive properties. It's very safe with few side-effects but may induce an allergic reaction, particularly if there's pre-existing bee-sting allergy. Most trials with this substance have been over the short term to improve the bruising after injury. I'm aware of reports of its use in osteoarthritis but the ones I've seen only report short-term benefit (three weeks). It's definitely worth a try but don’t be too disappointed if it doesn’t work as well as the diclofenac.

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