Monday, April 11, 2005

Pineapple for Pain?

If someone in your home is under the age of 10, you can probably answer this question: "Who lives in a pineapple under the sea?" The answer, of course, is SpongeBob SquarePants. But there's a lot more going on in pineapples than even SpongeBob is aware of. After all, he's only a cartoon sponge. In a previous alert I told you about bromelain, a protein-digesting enzyme found in pineapple. Bromelain has been shown to break down fibrin, a protein that promotes the blood clotting that can obstruct circulation. In addition, bromelain reduces inflammation, swelling and joint pain, making it a safe alternative to acetaminophen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). A new study from the University of Connecticut (UC) has revealed another potential use for bromelain: the treatment of asthma. UC researchers induced three groups of mice with acute asthma. Two of the groups received different doses of bromelain for eight days, and a control group received saline. When samples of blood and lung tissue were examined, researchers found that bromelain had significantly reduced the total white blood cell count. A high count of white blood cells increases the risk of an asthma attack. A marker for inflammatory asthma was also reduced by half in the bromelain groups. The UC team is now preparing a study to examine the use of bromelain in human subjects with asthma. Bromelain is available in dietary supplement shops and through Internet sources. And although most people don't experience adverse side effects, some people are allergic to bromelain, and ulcer patients should avoid using it. A dose of 500 mg, taken three times each day, is typical for general pain management. But before starting a bromelain regimen, you should consult your doctor or a healthcare professional. In most cases, supplements are absorbed most effectively when taken with meals. But bromelain is the exception to that rule. In another alert I told you about an important bromelain tip from panelist Dr. Richard Cohan, D.D.S., M.B.A. Dr. Cohan wrote, "I believe that it is important that you draw the distinction between bromelain's activity as a digestive aid when consumed with a meal, and its effectiveness as a pain modulator when consumed before a meal or three hours thereafter (depending how much fat was consumed and therefore how long digestive juices are present in the stomach). It apparently has no effect on pain when consumed with a meal."


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