Skip to main content
ARS Home » News & Events » News Articles » Research News » 1999 » Bromelain--Health Food for Bossie, Too

Archived Page

This page has been archived and is being provided for reference purposes only. The page is no longer being updated, and therefore, links on the page may be invalid.

Bromelain--Health Food for Bossie, Too

By Judy McBride
November 23, 1999

Dairy producers could benefit from an enzyme supplement--for their cows. Bromelain helps keep the white cell count in cows’ milk down in the range that fetches a premium price, according to a recent Agricultural Research Service study.

Many commercial dairy cows lumber along with chronic infections of the mammary glands that push up the number of white blood cells in their milk, especially during the dog days of summer.

U.S. dairy producers get an extra 20 cents per 100 pounds for milk having a cell count under a specified level. That level ranges from about 200,000 to 300,000 cells per milliliter, depending on which state tests the milk. Producers can't sell milk with cell counts above the legal limit. In the U.S., that's 750,000 cells/ml. Canada and Europe have lower limits--500,000 and 400,000, respectively.

In the study, 75 grams of bromelain pellets daily in each cow’s feed reduced cell counts by 100,000 on average during each of two trials. What’s more, cell counts never surpassed the legal U.S. or Canadian limits when the cows got bromelain, as they sometimes did when left untreated.

The findings mean that with bromelain, producers could have more days with cell counts in the premium price range--under 300,000.

Bromelain is a mix of enzymes extracted from the stems of pineapple plants. It's sold in health food stores under claims that it combats heart disease, arthritis and many other maladies. In animals, it appears to reduce inflammation by interfering with the synthesis of prostaglandins and other inflammatory substances, according to ARS dairy scientist Max Paape in Beltsville, Md.

Paape tested bromelain, supplied by Tokyo manufacturer Ajinomoto Co., Inc., on 10 cows having average cell counts a little over 300,000. Read more about the study in the November issue of Agricultural Research magazine at:


ARS is the chief scientific agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Scientific contact: Max J. Paape, ARS Immunology and Disease Resistance Laboratory, Beltsville, Md., phone (301) 504-8302, fax (301) 504-9498,