Ananas comosus (L.) Merr.
Pineapple is a tropical and perennial plant and is native to South America. After discovering, this plant spread over different countries rapidly and now it is found in different regions of world such as Australia. Pineapple is named “Anana” (a word that is taken from the term “nanas” from Indian language means “great fruit”). In contrast to public belief that thought this fruit is named pineapple everywhere, only in England, Japan, Korea, Poland and few other languages it is named in this way. Apparently using pineapple is more common in Europe. This plant is the only nutritious plant in Bromeliaceae family and its commercial cultivation was in tropical and subtropical regions. One third of global production of this plant is in Hawaii.
The results of a research in the Journal of Biologic Findings showed that methanolic extract of pineapple fruit has an anti-microbial and inhibitory effect on candida albicans fungal. According to researchers, anti-fungal effect of pineapple is because of chitinase an enzyme in the fruit and chitinase B and chitinase C enzymes in the leaf and shoot. The pineapple extract can effectively act as anti-fungal drugs in inhibition of candida albicans growth. The ability of bromelain in confronting some intestinal pathogens and alignment with antibiotics made this substance so helpful in improving infections. In vitro evidences show that bromelain has an anti-microbial activity against trichuriasis morris gastrointestinal parasite.
In 2011 a research was performed to investigate the effects of bromelain on candida albicans fungal and its results were published in Eur J Med Res Journal. The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of moderating factors of the immune system, such as bromelain and trypsin (B/T), in healthy volunteers and patients with “chromosome- linked agammaglobulinemia” disorder (XLA) and “common variable immunodeficiency” (CVID). According to observations, phagocytes of patients with XLA showed very fast phagocytosis compared with healthy people. After incubation with bromelain and trypsin, phagocytosis speed was almost duplicated and killing fungal was accelerated by 27%. Incubation of phagocytes in healthy control people with B/T accelerated phagocytosis and production of oxygen active species. More trials showed that bromelin is the main active compound in this process.
2. Increasing Fertility
Large amounts of Manganese in pineapple juice causes this drink to have a positive effect on boosting male fertility through improving the sperm quality. For this purpose the amount suggested for men is 0.2 and 0.3 mg daily. Indian researchers did a research in 2009 which was published in Oxidative Medicine and Cell Longevity Journal and showed the relationship between consumption of Manganese in pineapple juice and other snacks and the increase in sperm movement.
3. Strengthening Bones and Joints
One of the advantages of pineapple is its effect on bone health. This fruit is rich in Manganese that is necessary for making bones and connective tissues. In a trial the effect of bromelain, trypsin and routine compound with Diclofenac was compared in 103 patients with knee arthritis and after six weeks it was observed that both of them caused a significant reduction in amount of pain and inflammation. Bromelain is a nutritional supplement which can be an alternative for non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and plays an important role in arthritis pathology. This compound has pain killer features and it is mentioned that it has a direct effect on pain mediators such as “brody kinin”.
A non-controlled human study in 1960s showed that bromelain can be helpful in improving rheumatoid arthritis. Bromelain was given to 29 people suffering from arthritis for 3 to 13 months. Despite of long time treatment of these people with corticosteroids, they still suffered from arthritis. But consumption of bromelain caused a reduction in soft tissue swelling in 21 participants. In researches which have been performed on anti-inflammatory effect of bromelain in rheumatoid arthritis, it was reported that bromelain is as helpful as Naproxen, Pirocsicam, Indomethacin, and Diclofenac or more than them.
In 2002 a research was performed on the effect of bromelain on knee pain and its results were published in Phytomedicine Journal. In this research, the volunteers were asked to fill two reliable questionnaires of WOMAC (knee health index) and physiological Well-Being Index before and after one month consumption of bromelain (200 and 400 mg daily). Around 77 of the volunteers completed this research and the observations showed that bromelain consumption causes a reduction in WOMAC symptoms and this improvement was more in higher doses. Researchers concluded that bromelain can be effective in improving physical symptoms and in a dose-dependent way and enhance general health in adults suffering from knee pain.
On the other hand, in another research which was performed in 2006 and its results were published in QJM Journal, 47 patients who were diagnosed to have moderate to severe knee arthritis, received placebo or 800mg bromelain daily for 12 weeks and their knee pain, stiffness and function were investigated for 4 weeks. Also quality of life factors were reported in questionnaires of WOMAC (a questionnaire for assessing status of patients with arthritis) and SF36 (a questionnaire for assessing patient’s health status). 31 patients were examined thoroughly (14 bromelain and 17 placebo) and no significant statistical difference between these two groups was observed. This research shows that bromelain can’t be applied as a supporting treatment for moderate to severe arthritis but more researches are required in this area.
4. Improving Cardiovascular System Function
Bromelain reduces heart angina and transient ischemic attack (TIA) and is helpful in prevention and treatment of thrombophlebitis (inflammation and existence of clots in vein). Also it can breakdown the cholesterol plaques and has strong fibrinolytic activity (dissolving clots). A compound of bromelain and other nutrients protects body against ischemic- reperfusion damage in heart and blood vessels, coronary artery disease, heart attack, hypertension, peripheral artery disease, rheumatic heart disease, heart failure and congenital heart disease. Bromelain has been effective in treating cardiovascular diseases (CVDs). This compound prevents accumulation of blood plaques and reduces thrombosis (creating clots) and ambuli (movement of a substance in the blood).
It has been observed that bromelain plays a role in platelet and ischemia- reperfusion (ischemia, reduction of blood supply to the heart and reperfusion means further blood supply) accumulation. In ischemia- reperfusion tests, bromelain caused a reduction in heart muscle damage and helped in its restoration. This substance increased aortic flow and meanwhile, reduced both bloody tissue size and apoptosis amount when compared with control animals. For the first time these results showed that bromelain has a new mechanism for protecting heart and shows a potential therapeutic method against I/R damage. In 2006, a research was performed with the purpose of investigating the effect of bromelain on platelet accumulation in ten healthy non-smoker men’s blood sample. The results which were published in Platelets Journal showed that platelet accumulation reduced after incubation with 2.5 and 5 mg/ml bromelain.
5. Improving Kidney Function
In 2017, a trial was performed on the antioxidant effect of pineapple fruit extract on oxidative damage originated by sodium oxalate in rats. The results of this research that was published in Journal of Complementary Medicine showed that this extract improved the amount of urea, uric acid and creatinine in serum and urine. According to researchers, this effect can be because of compounds such as phenols, flavonoids, alkaloids, saponins, glycosides, triterpenes and tannins. Of course, in order to use this extract in treating kidney diseases its antioxidant effect must be more explored.
Researches have shown that lipid peroxidation originated by active oxygen species is a good indicator of cell oxidative damage and is considered as a pathogenic factor in kidney damage. Pineapple extract is rich in flavonoids which are able to capture and neutralize oxidative factors and increase activity of antioxidant enzymes such as CAT and SOD. Tannins existing in pineapple extract are able to chelate metal ions and delay oxidation.
6. Improving Digestive System Function
In a primary study which was performed in 2009, bromelain improved dyspepsia symptoms significantly in combination with sodium alginate, bicarbonate and essential oils. Bromelain consumption in rats removes reduction of intestine movement due to surgeries and increased excretion. The results of this research are published in Minerva Gastroenterol Dietol Journal.
Intestine movement disorder is part of common consequences of abdominal surgeries that causes great distress (nausea, vomit and inability to eat or excretion) to the patient and sometimes causes more serious problems (acute stomach extension, breathing, cardiac arrhythmia). It has been reported that disposal of stool in some Japanese patients who suffered from hemorrhoids and constipation improved after bromelain consumption. This indicates that bromelain can improve intestine movements.
According to an article which was published in Clinical Immunology Journal in 2005, it has been reported that oral consumption of bromelain improves ulcerative colitis in two patients that didn’t show any reactions to current medicine treatments. In this trial, daily consumption of bromelain reduced incidence and severity amount in colitis of rats. Although exact mechanism of the effects of external proteinases (bromelain is a collection of proteinases) on intestine inflammation has not been specified yet, the results of these types of trials are promising and indicate requirement of more studies on this complementary method in treating intestine inflammation.
Also available evidences show that bromelain affects some intestine pathogens such as weber klra and escherichia coli (that their toxins cause intestine inflammation). It seems that bromelain does this through interference in signaling pathways secreted in intestine. Other researchers suggested another mechnism and expressed that in conditions of infection by escherichia coli; bromelain prevents bacteria to attach specific glycoprotein receptors which are on intestinal mucosa, through anti-adhesion effect.
In addition the results of a research in Nutrition Journal suggest that bromelain consumption improves protein consumption.
7. Improving Respiratory Tract Function
Many studies have shown the positive effect of bromelain on respiratory diseases. For example in a research which was published in Headache Journal in 1967, status of patients with sinusitis who didn’t consume antibiotics was investigated. In 85% of those who received bromelain, inflammation of nose mucosa and respiratory problems were completely removed while complete removing of inflammation in 40 percent of placebo group was observed and only 53% of them reported complete removing of respiratory problems.
In another study which was done in 2005, treating children suffering from acute sinusitis by bromelain reduced duration of symptoms appearance period and accelerated period of healing and restoration compared with current therapeutic method. The results of this research were published in In Vivo Journal. Also in order to investigate the effect of oral consumption of bromelain in acute allergy disease (AAD) of respiratory tract, a research was done in 2008. The results of this study which was published in Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine Journal showed that oral consumption of bromelain had a positive effect on Syrian rats with AAD. These findings express that oral consumption of bromelain has a helpful therapeutic effect on Syrian rats with asthma and can be helpful for human conditions too.
8. Boosting Immune System
Bromelain consumption has been suggested as a supporting therapeutic method for treating chronic inflammation and autoimmune diseases. Trials have shown that bromelain has the ability of surface adhesion of the molecules to the T cells and macrophages and causes secretion of tumor necrosis factor α (TNF-α) by peripheral blood single mononuclear cells (PBMCs). Also it has been observed that oral treatment by bromelain creates pain killer and anti-inflammation effects in patients with rheumatois arthritis (which is one of the most common autoimmune diseases).
Bromelain affects blood coagulation through the ability of serum fibrinolytic (dissolving blood clots) and inhibiting synthesis of fibrin (a protein involved in blood clotting). It has been observed bromelain in a dose- dependent way reduces serum fibrinogen in rats. Researches have shown that bromelain is a fibrinolytic factor and stimulates plasminogens change to plasmins. Plasmin increases fibrinolysis amount (dissolving fibrinous clots) through decreasing fibrin.
Although, evidences have shown that pineapple extract enforces its anti-inflammatory effect through affecting immune system and hormone-like activity in inter-cell signaling pathways, the main reason for the effect of bromelain on inflammation is its proteolytic nature which has the ability of breaking down protein molecules. Also it has been shown that bromelain reduces CD4 T lymphocytes significantly which is the first effective factor in animal models.
Drinking pineapple juice can be helpful for people who suffer from colitis. This disease is along with inflammation of the colon and can cause abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea and dehydration. A research which was published in Inflammatory Bowel Diseases Jouranal in December 2010 showed that consumption of fresh or frozen pineapple juice can reduce colon swelling due to anti-inflammation effect of the bromelain.
Bromelain consumption before surgery can reduce the required time for complete removing of pain and inflammation after surgery. Trials have shown that bromelain is effective in reducing swelling, Dark and Blueness, and pain after giving birth. Today bromelain is used to treat severe inflammations and sports injury.
In a research which was performed to investigate the effect of the bromelain on Kato III cell line of gastric carcinoma (gastric cancer), bromelain reduced cell growth. Also in another study bromelain reduced invasive capacity of glioblastoma cells (brain tumor). Various animal and human studies have shown that bromelain can have anticancer activity and probably through affecting homeostasis, inflammatory and immune pathways and also affecting molecules involved in cell signaling fights cancer. In a research in a type of skin cancer in rats, pretreatment by bromelain caused a delay in initiation of tumor formation and reduced the tumor number and volume. In addition, combination of 1000mg bromelain dose daily with chemical drugs such as Fluorouracil and Vincristine causes tumor regression. In a trial which its results were published in Isfahan medical school magazine in 1395 cytotoxicity of pineapple extract on 4T1 breast cancer cell line was investigated. In this trial, this cell line was exposed to different density of bromelain at different times and their growth and proliferation was assessed. The findings showed that growth and survival of these cells which were exposed to bromelain with high concentration (600 to 800 microgram/ml) for a long time (24 to 48 hours), was reduced significantly but in short time bromelain increased their growth and survival. Bromelain can control malignity through direct effect on cancer cells and their periphery and in combination with other chemical drugs prevent growth, proliferation and survival of cancer cells. Pineapple juice displays its anticancer effect through increasing apoptosis inducer genes (Bax and p53) and reducing cell survival inducer genes (Erk and Akt).
12. Repairing Tissue Injury
Drinking pineapple juice is helpful in healing tendon and ligament injuries. A research which was published in Journal of Medicinal Food in 2011 showed that bromelain in pineapple juice increased tendon cells after Achilles heel injury in rats. Also it reduced malondialdehyde (a compound which causes mutations in tissues).
13. Relieving Coughs
Most people drink lots of orange juice to improve cold and few of them pay attention to useful effect of pineapple in improving cold. In addition to supplying vitamin C, pineapple has other benefits. Bromelain in pineapple is helpful for stopping cough and softens the mucosa.
14. Promoting Oral and Dental Health
Since pineapple is rich in vitamin C, it is useful for oral health. This vitamin can reduce probability of gum inflammation. In addition to increasing the ability of connective tissue in restoration of itself, vitamin C decreases the ability of the body in fighting invasive bacteria and other toxins involved in gum diseases.
The main compounds of pineapple include Bromelain enzyme, fiber, vitamins B1 and B6, citric acid, ascorbic acid and phenolic compounds. The main minerals of this fruit include copper, potassium, calcium and magnesium. Sucrose is the main sugar of this fruit.
Pineapple has been consumed as a medicinal plant in various communities from ancient times. This plant was used to eliminate dyspepsia, inflammation, parasite and infection. Pineapple juice was applied as a diuretic and to dispose intestinal worms. In Africa its dried stem and powder are used to treat edema. Pineapple is believed to be anti-parasite and is used to improve protein digestion, eliminate tonsils inflammation, menstrual regulation, reinforce of sexual power and strengthen bones.