Who doesn’t like tropical fruit? On the west coast, pineapple conjures up visions of Hawaiian breezes, relaxed vacations and drinks with little umbrellas. What if I told you that Pineapple is also good medicine?
The main medicinal ingredient of pineapple is an enzyme called Bromelain. It comes from the stem and juice of the pineapple. It reduces digestive complaints through its ability to digest proteins. It is as anti-inflammatory as most drugs and can reduce inflammation from wounds, injuries and sprains.
The Bromelain in pineapple is thought to be effective for arthritis, sinusitis, hay fever, and new research is showing its effectiveness against certain cancers.
Bromelain reduces inflammation and swelling of soft tissues. This makes it useful in sore throat, coughs and hay fever. Applying Bromelain externally on bruises and strains can reduce the swelling and inflammation. It is effective at reducing swollen arthritic joints and is thought to be effective internally against some side effects of chemotherapy and radiation.
Bromelain assists people that do not have enough digestive enzymes to break down and digest protein. This relieves the symptoms of indigestion including burning sensations, uncomfortable fullness and stomach pain.
Although it would be amazing to simply have a glass of pineapple juice and feel the effects, unfortunately there is not enough Bromelain in a glass of juice to work effectively. There are several excellent supplements on the market that will work very well.
As with all natural supplements and foodstuffs, natural does not always mean SAFE. Always make sure you do the research or speak with a health care professional, be it your MD or your Naturopath or Clinical Herbalist before attempting to treat yourself.
In this case Bromelain is not safe for people taking blood thinners or anti-coagulants. It is a natural blood thinner so it can cause your medication to work too well.
If you are allergic to pineapple, wheat and other things, a full list is available at the University of Maryland website, you should avoid Bromelain supplements.
One other caution against taking Bromelain supplements is for pregnant women. Because of its blood thinning effects, Bromelain increases menstrual bleeding and should therefore be avoided during pregnancy. The good news though is that a glass of pineapple juice now and again does not have enough Bromelain to be worrisome.
Remember though that the side effects occur when taking Bromelain supplements. Pineapple itself has been used throughout the centuries as a staple of folk medicine.
The next time you see a pineapple remember, this isn’t just a delicious food, it is also an effective medicine.