Pineapple certainly enjoys great popularity, especially because of its fruity, refreshing, tropical taste – however, few suspect that pineapple actually contains bona fide natural remedy!
In fact, pineapple is a veritable treasure trove of vitamins, and as if that were not enough, it contains an incredible amount of minerals, trace elements and – in particular – enzymes.
Given the title of ‘gift of the gods’ and idolised for centuries by the Indians of Central America, the pineapple was not discovered until November 4, 1493, when Christopher Columbus discovered it on the Antilles island of Guadeloupe and then brought to Europe. The Spanish conquerors then nicknamed it the ‘luxury of the gods’.
Because the pineapple, rich in Vitamin C, prevents scurvy and can be stored for up to 20 days after harvesting, it was a popular food for sailors at the time. Thus began its triumphant procession in the footsteps of colonisers around the world; the Spaniards and Portuguese took them to southern India, St. Helena and the Philippines and very quickly started growing them in Africa. Pineapple was soon grown wherever the climate and outside temperatures allowed.
The French word ‘ananas’ was coined by the French Huguenot pastor André Thevet; the ‘A’ stands for ‘fruit’ and ‘nana’ for ‘delicious’ - meaning delicious fruit.
Pineapple – the botanical origin
From a botanical point of view, the pineapple (ananas comosus) comes from the bromeliaceae family and is divided into 100 different types. The plant is about 80 to 100 cm high and has many large leaves. The fruit itself is oval and reaches a length of 14-18 cm and a diameter of 12-15 cm with a weight of up to 4 kg, and even more in exceptional cases.
Their place of origin is believed to be in the Mato Grosso area, which includes parts of southern Brazil, Paraguay and northern Argentina; today, it is grown in the tropical areas of the world (requiring high temperatures of no less than 20 °C) and put on the market as a whole fruit, as a canned fruit (the latter without health benefits) or processed into fruit juice.
Bromelain/bromelin – pineapple’s power enzyme
Bromelain (also referred to as ‘bromelin’) is an enzyme mixture composed of various enzymes derived from the pineapple fruit and its stem.
Bromelain (or bromelin) has interesting and extremely useful properties that benefit both medicine and modern industry. For example, bromelain splits proteins, which has proved to be optimal for the prevention and treatment of various diseases, but, in the food industry, has also been discovered to soften meat. In the beverage industry, bromelain is used to prevent unwanted protein-related turbidity.
Regarding its medical uses, the main features of bromelain are its anti-inflammatory and decongestant properties as well as in the accompanying cancer therapy, arthritis treatment and cardiology. These properties are highly valued (and not just by sportspeople) for the treatment of swelling and oedemas. All injuries caused by external influences are accompanied by painful swelling, which severely limits mobility. The main cause of the swelling is an increased amount of protein within the injured tissue. The protein components enter the injured tissue from the damaged lymphatic and blood vessels together with the body's own fluid and form the unpleasant swelling. Swelling always impedes proper healing, and thus, as well as being painful, is very counterproductive from a recovery point of view.
Here, the Bromelain actively intervenes, splits the protein components (dissolves them), prevents the swelling and pain as a result, and accelerates the healing of the injured tissue.
Dr. Nieper, an eminent authority in alternative medicine, compares bromelain with tube cleaner, as it has the long-term ability to rid our blood vessels of plaque (atherosclerosis), thus preventing all kinds of cardiovascular diseases. Furthermore, he estimates the effect of bromelain in the prevention of heart attacks to be greater than that of beta-blockers. According to Dr. Nieper ‘through intensive long-term therapy with bromelain, the coronary veins are, so to speak, cleaned out from the inside’.
Bromelain, similar to papain, is multifactorial as part of cancer treatment and supports cancer therapy in a variety of ways.
Read more interesting things about the effect of this amazing enzyme found in pineapples under ‘Effect of pineapple bromelain’.
The active ingredients in pineapple
As already mentioned, pineapple is a veritable treasure trove of vital substances, consisting of countless vitamins, minerals, trace elements and highly effective enzymes. In fact, besides vitamin E, biotin and vitamin B12, it contains all the vitamins and 16 different minerals. What active substances and ingredients are in pineapple?
As far as the density of vital substances (the ratio of vital substances to calories) and the enzyme content are concerned, pineapple is in no way inferior to papaya; it contains all the vitamins, beta-carotene, biotin and numerous minerals as well as coenzymes and fruit acids – but above all the super-effective enzyme ‘bromelain’!
Effect of pineapple/bromelain
What effect do pineapple and its enzyme bromelain have, and what do they counteract? Before we talk in detail about the mode of action and effect of pineapple and bromelain, it is extremely important to mention that we are talking about fresh pineapple. Tinned pineapple (preserve) has virtually lost its effectiveness during the preservation process, as its effective enzymes have been killed.
What effect does bromelain have, and what does it counteract?
Bromelains are protein-splitting enzymes that act in a cellulose-activating, vitalising, carminative, muscle-relaxing, anti-inflammatory manner and break down harmful substances.
Effect of bromelain on the body
Stress is by far the most common cause of illness today. If a person is exposed to negative stress over a long period of time (as opposed to ‘eustress’), which the body can no longer counteract through its compensatory mechanisms, hormone-like substances (‘prostaglandins’) are released into the body to draw attention to this condition.
This happens, for example, through the sensitisation of pain receptors causing pain and inflammation, whereby this discomfort makes the person aware that something is wrong with them and that they must remedy the situation.
If the person does not react appropriately to the body’s distress signals and if they do not remove the cause (stressors), these messenger substances subsequently cause real physical suffering, which we know as ‘chronic, degenerative diseases’, for example in the form of cancer, cardiovascular diseases, arthritis and ulcers etc.
Bromelain regulates the work of prostaglandin
In addition to the prostaglandins described above, which are also referred to as ‘alarm prostaglandins’ because they serve to warn the body and respond to stress overload, there is another group of prostaglandins that has a completely contrasting mode of action, one that is curative and anti-inflammatory. This group only intervenes when the stressors are broken down and the ‘alarm prostaglandins’ have withdrawn. Only then is healing possible!
It is exactly at this point that the soothing, healing effect of bromelain kicks in: bromelain acts selectively as a prostaglandin inhibitor by preventing the release of painful and inflammatory ‘alarm prostaglandins’ and creating room for healing, anti-inflammatory prostaglandins.
Here, the natural prostaglandin inhibitors in pineapple stand out in comparison to the synthetic (artificial) prostaglandin inhibitors, in that the latter prevent both the release of the ‘alarm prostaglandins’ and the healing, anti-inflammatory prostaglandins, while the pineapple prostaglandin inhibitors are very selective and only inhibit the pathogenic prostaglandins.
In summary, the effect of bromelain results from
- regulation of prostaglandins (see above);
- splitting of dietary protein;
- balancing acid-alkali levels and counteracting atherosclerosis;
- keeps the blood thin, thereby preventing high blood pressure and thrombosis;
- regulates blood pressure;
- has a cardioprotective effect in the prevention of blood platelet formation;
- destroys harmful intestinal parasites and removes these from the body;
- helps against inflammation and rheumatism;
- successfully prevents and treats of cancer and
- prevents the metastasis of cancer cells.
General effect of pineapple/bromelain
The general effect can be categorised in the following bullet points:
- strengthens the immune system
- protects cells
- accelerates healing of wounds
- cooling (during fevers)
- anti-atherogenic (protects against atherosclerosis and removes existing vascular calcification)
- anti-carcinogenic (counteracts carcinogenesis)
- protects the cardiovascular system
- regulates blood pressure
- builds the intestinal flora
- invigorates the endocrine system
- anti-helminthic (removes worms)
- prevention and therapy of ulcers
 Barbara Simonsohn: Die sagenhafte Heilkraft der Ananas (‘The Legendary Healing Power of Pineapple’) 4th Edition, 2012, p. 68.