This unique quality of pineapple was known to ancient South and Central American people, who traditionally used these fruits not only as a food source, but also to reduce swelling throughout the body, as well as the pain of indigestion. The pain-relieving properties of pineapple are centered around an enzyme called bromelain, which has been found to be a potent anti-inflammatory compound.
In 2004, Sarah Brien of the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom led a review of a body of clinical studies regarding the analgesic effects of bromelain, and concluded that this enzyme was in many cases comparable to or sometimes more effective than NSAID painkiller drugs for managing the pain of osteoarthritis, an inflammatory musculoskeletal condition that affects the joints. Other studies have found that bromelain could be even more effective than prescription anti-inflammatory drugs in dealing with various types of pain.
Some of this research centers around patients recovering from surgery. Researchers have linked bromelain intake with faster recovery times, and less post-surgical pain. In fact, in Germany, bromelain is an approved post-surgical treatment for the swelling and pain that occurs after ear, nose and throat surgeries.
This compound also helps the body to digest proteins, aids in overall digestive function, and may soothe the discomfort associated with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and stomach ulcers.
Additionally, bromelain can help to ease joint and muscle soreness after a workout or a long day, and is the ideal fruit to consume if you have a cold or sinus infection. Bromelain’s anti-inflammatory qualities, plus pineapple’s high vitamin C content, work together to thin mucus, relieve sinus pain, reduce swelling in the upper respiratory tract, and boost the immune system to fight infection.
Because inflammation is at the root of so many chronic illnesses, pineapple may both help to prevent their onset, and ease the symptoms of existing conditions. Some research is even testing the effects of bromelain on cancer cells, with preliminary results showing that it may help to decrease the growth of tumors, inhibit the metastasis of cancer cells, and increase the immune system’s ability to fight the cancer.
While in many studies, potent pain relief effects came from isolated bromelain, rather than intake of fresh pineapple, eating the fresh fruit and drinking fresh pineapple juice worked for the ancients, and may very well have a more powerful effect than you may think.
If you suffer from severe chronic pain and are interested in trying more concentrated bromelain, speak with a natural health professional about where to find the purest extract, and the amount that is right for you.
For many types of aches, pains and swelling, however, simply enjoying some fresh pineapple or fresh-squeezed pineapple juice may just do the trick.
The Alternative Daily