For years Ive discussed many of the potential dangers involved with taking an aspirin a day to help prevent heart attacks. Now, I want to tell you about an “aspirin substitute”bromelain.
Bromelain is an enzyme extracted from the pineapple plant. It is referred to as a “protease” which means it breaks down proteins, reducing them to their basic building blocks.
Almost 500 years ago, Christopher Columbus and his crew “discovered” the pineapple on the Caribbean Island of Guadeloupe. Even then, they were amazed at its medicinal uses. Natives used the juice to aid in digestion of meat and cure stomachaches. Women used it to beautify their skin and warriors used it to improve the healing of their wounds. Recent research suggests that the pineapple (more specifically bromelain, which is extracted from the stem) may be one of the best tools we can use to help prevent and even treat heart disease.
Atherosclerosis or clogging of the arteries directly accounts for one-half of all the deaths in this country. It kills by cutting off the life-sustaining blood supply to vital organs like the heart, brain and kidneys. Heart attacks result from blockage of small blood vessels supplying the heart muscle and strokes are often the result of a similar blockage to the brain.
Research has continually shown that the clots formed in arteries are composed largely of protein (fibrin). These clots also contain particles of various fats and cholesterol, but the protein mesh of fibrin seems to be the culprit holding the clot together. In fact, clot-busting drugs like streptokinase (marketed as Streptase) and urokinase that have been shown to dissolve 70 percent of the clots in heart patients work by breaking down the protein fibrin! (The enzymes involved break down fibrin not cholesterol. Despite this, everyone still wants to call cholesterol the cause of the problem.)
Bromelain works much the same way as these miracle clot-busting drugs. (Just like streptokinase, bromelain stimulates the conversion of plasminogen to plasmin, which in turn helps break down fibrin clots. (Arch. Int. Pharmacodyn 1981; 254:157-67.) (Med. Hypothesis 1980; 6:1123-33.) (Med. Hypothesis 1980; 6:99-104.) J. Int. Acad. Prev. Med. 1979; Vol. 6, No. 1.)
Even more surprising, bromelain may be able to “clean” arteries of atherosclerotic plaquing before a problem occurs. In an animal study, bromelain broke down arteriosclerotic plaquing before a problem occured. In an animal study, bromelain broke down arteriosclerotic plaque in the aortas of rabbits. (Dissert. Abstr. B 1975; 35 (2 pt) 6013, Ord. No. 75-13, 735.)
Besides breaking down clots, bromelain appears to keep clots from forming in the first place. Explaining this area can get somewhat complicated and confusing (to me anyway). The “stickiness” of your blood cells has a lot to do with clot formation. This “stickiness” is linked to your bodys production of temporary hormones called prostaglandins. Bromelain blocks the production of prostaglandins that keep blood cells from getting too sticky, and promotes the production of those that help circulation. On the other hand, aspirin blocks the production of all prostaglandins, both good and bad!
Bromelain also has been shown to be very effective in treating inflammation, again without the side effects of aspirin or the nonsteroid anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like Motrin, Advil, Nuprin, Rufin, Medipren, Midol, etc. In fact, even the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis has been effective using 2250 mg. of bromelain twice daily between meals. In one study, over 70 percent of those on the program experienced good to excellent results of less joint swelling, less pain and more mobility. (Pennsyl. Med. J. 64; 67:27-30.)
Bromelain is sold in health food stores everywhere as a digestive aid and is generally considered very sage without any known side effects. After all, it comes from pineapple juice which again has been used medicinally for hundreds, if not thousands of years.
Most studies Ive reviewed recommended between 2,000 and 4,000 mg. daily. When used for inflammation and the other reasons Ive described, it is best taken between meals. Some authorities recommend taking at least 500 IU of vitamin E (d-alpha tocopherol) along with bromelain to prevent harmful clogging of the arteries due to sticky blood cells.
Bromelain use is another one of those therapies you wont hear much about because theres not much money to be made in pineapple extracts. You can bet, however, that drug companies are studying bromelain very closely. Anything that works this well for so many problems, without side effects, would be the ideal starting point for some new medications.
For more information, visit http://www.searchhearthealth.com