Description of Pineapple : The pineapple tree (Ananas comosus) is a tropical tree belonging to the family of Bromeliaceae. This tree is native to South America, but was first discovered by Europeans on Caribbean islands. Pineapple fruit is usually cylindrical in shape with scaly green, brown, or yellow skin and a crown of spiny, blue-green leaves. The yellow coloured flesh inside has vibrant flavour of sweet and tart taste. The fruit is rich source of vitamin C, magnesium, manganese and a vital enzyme known as bromelain.
Along with this it also contains copper, potassium, vitamin B1, vitamin B6, dietary fibre, folate and pantothenic acid. The major anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties of pineapple is basically because of the presence of bromelain enzyme. Bromelain belongs to the group of digesting enzymes extracted from the fruit or stem of pineapple tree. The bromelain enzymes extracted from different parts of the tree (fruit and stem) are different and contain different composition.
Importance of Pineapple in ayuvedic medicine
Researchers proved that the traditional medicinal therapies used by man from ancient times involving the plant extracts with high proteolytic enzymes (enzymes those breakdown protein into smaller polypeptides or amino acids) are based on scientific studies. One of such enzyme used in Ayurveda is bromelain enzymes extracted from pineapple fruit or stem. In modern medicine, such therapy is called as enzyme therapy (use of enzymes to treat deficiencies or other medical conditions in patient’s body)
One of such scientific study included preclinical and clinical trials of systemic enzyme therapy on arthritic patients. Set of experiments were carried out using enzyme preparations consisting of combinations of bromelain (from pineapple), papain (from papaya), trypsin and chymotrypsin (secreted from pancreases). It was shown the ratio of proteinases to antiproteinases which are usually affected by chronic disease like in arthritis (especially rheumatoid arthritis) was found considerably influence by oral administration of proteolytic enzyme extracts.
A group of studies were carried out including 28 patients to understand the effect of bromelain on knee joint of osteoarthritis patients. The studies reported that the use of bromelain in different dose amounts and in different duration period showed positive clinical effects in 18 patients as compared to control cases, which was measured by assessment in reduction of swelling of soft tissues, pain and joint stiffness. And no side effects of medication were observed on the patient’s health indicating that the bromelian
Another study was carried out where short term oral treatment of bromelain enzyme purified from pineapple stem was administrated to laboratory mice suffering from chronic colitis (inflammation of colon or large intestine) to detect the effect of enzyme on colonic inflammation.
Pineapple is also rich in vitamin C and manganese, both of which play important role in reducing symptoms liked with inflammatory diseases like osteoarthritis. The antioxidant vitamin C found in pineapple juice helps in repair of collagen or protein in connective tissues which in turn helps to keep functioning of joints properly in joint related problems. Drinking of pineapple juice also increases the intake of antioxidant vitamin A in body, which also helps in reducing arthritis pain as antioxidants fight against free radicals (that causes cell destruction and joint damage in arthritis patients).
It is also observed another mineral present in fruit, manganese also possess antioxidant properties in removing free radicals from body tissues. Manganese is a key component for antioxidant enzyme called superoxide dismutase, the enzyme which neutralize free radicals preventing cell damage and subsequent death. Therefore it is found deficiency of vitamins (especially vitamin C) and manganese in diet leads to weakness in joints, fractures in bone and bone malformation that further can lead to disease like arthritis.
Many plant extracts containing high content of proteolytic enzymes have always been used from ancient times as a part of traditional medicines in treatment of various illness. And they were always proved to be effective and safe compared to antibiotics and other chemical drugs used mostly now a days. Therefore use of such plant extracts and herbal medicines are gaining importance recently and are used as a part of modern enzyme therapy. One of such enzyme therapy uses, the bromelain enzyme extracted from pineapple tree which is demonstrated to have number of anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties and hence proves to be safer alternative or adjective treatment of inflammatory diseases such as osteoarthritis