Skip to Content

Is pineapple juice good for hyperthyroidism?

Hyperthyroidism is a condition characterized by an overactive thyroid gland that produces excess hormones thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). This can lead to symptoms like unexplained weight loss, rapid heartbeat, tremors, nervousness, and irritability. While antithyroid medications are commonly prescribed, some people look to natural remedies like pineapple juice to help manage hyperthyroidism.

Pineapple contains an enzyme called bromelain that is thought to have anti-inflammatory and immune-modulating effects. Some claim that bromelain could help reduce thyroid inflammation and modulate the autoimmune response in Graves’ disease, a common cause of hyperthyroidism. However, substantial evidence is lacking on the efficacy and safety of pineapple juice for hyperthyroidism specifically.

This article examines the current evidence on pineapple juice and hyperthyroidism. It covers:

What Is Hyperthyroidism?

Hyperthyroidism refers to the overproduction of thyroid hormones T3 and T4 by the thyroid gland. This speeds up your metabolism and can affect many body systems.

Causes of hyperthyroidism include:

– Graves’ disease: An autoimmune disorder that causes antibodies to stimulate the thyroid. It’s the most common cause, accounting for 60-80% of hyperthyroidism cases.

– Thyroid nodules: Lumps in the thyroid that may overproduce hormones.

– Thyroiditis: Inflammation of the thyroid.

– Excess iodine intake.

– Taking too much synthetic thyroid hormone.

Common signs and symptoms of hyperthyroidism include:


– Unexplained weight loss
– Rapid, irregular heartbeat
– Tremors
– Nervousness, anxiety, irritability
– Sweating, heat intolerance
– Muscle weakness
– Diarrhea
– Goiter (enlarged thyroid gland)
– Bulging eyes
– Thinning hair

Without treatment, hyperthyroidism can lead to complications like:

– Irregular heart rhythms
– Heart failure
– Brittle bones (osteoporosis)
– Thyroid storm, a rare, life-threatening condition involving a high fever, nausea, diarrhea, and other symptoms

Getting an accurate diagnosis and treatment is important for managing hyperthyroidism and preventing complications.

What Are the Treatments for Hyperthyroidism?

Standard treatments for hyperthyroidism aim to inhibit thyroid hormone production and restore normal thyroid function. Options include:


– Antithyroid drugs like methimazole (Tapazole) and propylthiouracil (PTU) block thyroid hormone synthesis. They take 1-2 months to start working.

– Beta blockers like propranolol (Inderal) help relieve symptoms like rapid heartbeat, tremors, and anxiety while waiting for other treatments to work.

Radioactive Iodine

Radioactive iodine damages thyroid cells to reduce excess hormone production. Effects can take 6-18 weeks to develop. It often leads to lifelong hypothyroidism requiring thyroid hormone replacement.


Removing part or all of the thyroid gland is an option if medications fail or aren’t tolerated. While curative, there are risks with any surgery. Lifelong thyroid hormone replacement is needed after full thyroidectomy.

Alternative approaches like dietary changes, supplements, or pineapple juice are sometimes used to complement conventional treatment. But evidence is limited on their efficacy and safety. It’s important to discuss them with your healthcare provider.

What Are the Active Compounds in Pineapple Juice?

Pineapples contain a group of digestive enzymes called bromelain, which are thought to provide most of pineapple juice’s purported health benefits. Bromelain is concentrated in the pineapple stem and core.

When pineapples are processed into juice, bromelain remains active and available to provide effects. However, bromelain activity and content can vary substantially depending on factors like:

Processing Methods

– Juicing method: Bromelain activity is highest in fresh juice extracted from the fruit core where bromelain is most concentrated. Canned or frozen juices typically have lower bromelain content.

– Heat and storage: Heat deactivates bromelain. Storage over time reduces activity. Fresh-pressed, minimally heated juice has the highest activity.

– Acidity: Bromelain works best in acidic environments with a pH under 6.0. Juices with citric acid or vitamin C added help maintain acidity.

Origin and Variety

– Origins like Costa Rica and Hawaii known for growing sweeter pineapples tend to have lower bromelain levels.

– Variety: Smooth Cayenne pineapples used in most commercial juices have less bromelain than some other varieties.

Given this variability in active bromelain content, the clinical relevance of pineapple juice can be inconsistent and unpredictable.

What Are the Proposed Benefits of Bromelain for Thyroid Health?

Most of the potential benefits of bromelain and pineapple juice for hyperthyroidism involve reducing thyroid inflammation and modulating the autoimmune response in Graves’ disease. Proposed mechanisms include:

Reducing Inflammation

Some research shows bromelain has anti-inflammatory effects by:

– Inhibiting inflammatory compounds like prostaglandin E2 and cytokines
– Suppressing activation of NF-kB, a protein complex involved in inflammation
– Blocking cellular processes that intensify the inflammatory response

By reducing inflammation, bromelain may protect thyroid tissue in autoimmune hyperthyroidism. This could theoretically improve thyroid function long-term.

Modulating Immunity

Studies indicate bromelain can:

– Shift immune cells away from autoimmune (Th2) responses
– Increase anti-inflammatory regulatory T cells
– Affect production of antibodies like immunoglobulin G

These immunomodulatory effects might suppress the abnormal autoantibody response attacking the thyroid in Graves’ disease.

However, current evidence has major limitations as outlined below.

What Does the Research Say?

There are currently no human studies on pineapples or bromelain specifically for hyperthyroidism. Existing research has major limitations:

Animal Studies

– A rat study found reduced thyroid tissue inflammation and oxidative stress with bromelain treatment. But animal findings don’t always apply to humans.

Other Conditions

– Small studies show modest anti-inflammatory effects in conditions like arthritis, sinusitis, and surgery recovery. However, these results may not translate to autoimmune thyroid disease.

Mechanistic Trials

– Test tube and animal studies provide some support for bromelain’s effects on immunity and inflammation. But clinical evidence in humans is needed.

Poor Quality Trials

– Human studies are generally small and low quality with short treatment periods. More rigorously controlled research is warranted.

Based on the current evidence, pineapple juice cannot be recommended as an effective treatment for hyperthyroidism without more research. Possible risks like medication interactions are also not well defined.

Are There Any Risks or Side Effects?

Pineapple juice and bromelain supplements are generally recognized as safe by regulatory agencies when used orally in normal food amounts. However, potential side effects and cautions include:

– Allergic reactions in those sensitive to pineapples. Symptoms may include itching, hives, swelling, breathing difficulties, and anaphylaxis in severe cases.

– Increased effects of blood thinners. Bromelain may raise bleeding risk when combined with anticoagulant drugs like warfarin or aspirin.

– Diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and other gastrointestinal issues from high doses.

– Menstrual flow changes in women due to anti-inflammatory and circulatory effects.

– Hypersensitivity reactions with intravenous bromelain, including organ inflammation, rapid heartbeat, and breathing problems. Intravenous use is not recommended.

There are also some theoretical concerns, though unproven, about immunosuppression with bromelain long-term.

It’s best to avoid pineapple juice in children under 1 year old due to possible allergy risks. For adults, moderation is key. Speak to a healthcare provider before using pineapple juice to manage any medical condition.

What Is the Recommended Pineapple Juice Intake?

There are currently no standard dosage guidelines for pineapple juice. In food amounts, up to 1 cup (240 ml) daily is reasonable for most healthy adults as part of a balanced diet.

The bromelain content can vary substantially based on juice processing and pineapple variety as discussed earlier. This makes it difficult to define an optimal intake for therapeutic purposes.

Some sources suggest limiting intake to no more than 3,000–6,000 mgs of bromelain daily from supplements or juice combined for health benefits. But clinical evidence is insufficient to confirm appropriate doses for specific conditions like hyperthyroidism.

It’s best to speak with a healthcare provider to determine if pineapple juice might be an appropriate complementary therapy for your hyperthyroidism and to discuss proper dosage.

Is Fresh, Canned, or Frozen Juice Better?

Fresh pineapple juice extracted from the core region has the highest bromelain content and enzymatic activity. Canned and frozen juices typically undergo more heat processing and preservative use, both of which degrade bromelain over time.

One study compared fresh, frozen, and canned pineapple juices from Concentrate (PJC):

Pineapple Juice Type Total Bromelain Activity
Fresh 1892 gelatin digestion units/ml
Frozen 1502 gelatin digestion units/ml
Canned PJC 1150 gelatin digestion units/ml

Fresh juice retained the highest enzyme activity, while canned juice had approximately 40% lower bromelain activity compared to fresh.

Still, frozen or canned varieties can provide benefits when fresh isn’t available as long as bromelain activity is maintained through careful processing. Avoid boiling or microwaving juice, which degrades enzymes.

Check the label for phrases like “fresh pressed” or “raw” to find juices with minimal processing. Adding a squirt of lemon to enhance acidity and slow bromelain breakdown also helps maximize activity.

Should You Take Pineapple Juice or Bromelain Supplements?

Both pineapple juice and bromelain supplements can provide beneficial enzymes when processed properly. Which is better depends on your preferences and needs:

Pineapple Juice Bromelain Supplement
– Natural source of bromelain – Consistent dosage in each tablet/capsule
– Provides vitamin C and antioxidants – Isolates beneficial enzymes
– Flavor and versatility as a beverage – Easy to add to regimen
– Enzyme content varies by juice brand and preparation – Quality varies by brand and manufacturing

There is no evidence that supplemental bromelain is more clinically effective than pineapple juice. But supplements offer standardized enzyme dosing, which can be helpful for some.

For others, drinking natural pineapple juice is more appealing and provides complementary nutrition from the fruit. Include some fresh or minimally processed juice if you tolerate it well.

As always, consult your healthcare provider before trying new dietary approaches for hyperthyroidism.

The Bottom Line

Some sources claim pineapple juice is beneficial for hyperthyroidism due to its anti-inflammatory enzyme bromelain. However, human research is currently lacking on pineapple juice specifically for hyperthyroidism.

Some studies suggest bromelain may help reduce thyroid inflammation and modulate immunity in autoimmune hyperthyroidism like Graves’ disease. But the evidence is preliminary with insufficient data to recommend it.

When used in moderation, pineapple juice is generally recognized as safe. But it may interact with medications, and long-term immunologic effects are unknown. Those with pineapple allergies should also avoid it.

For people with hyperthyroidism interested in natural approaches, incorporating fresh pineapple juice may be reasonable as part of an overall treatment plan. But speak to your healthcare provider first about proper dosage and expected benefits or risks for your condition. Don’t use pineapple juice in place of standard hyperthyroid medications without medical supervision.

More rigorous human research is still needed on pineapple juice and bromelain for hyperthyroidism. But current evidence is insufficient to confirm its efficacy and safety as a treatment. Talk to your doctor about evidence-based integrative medicine approaches that may benefit your thyroid condition.