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This Enzyme in Pineapple Kills Parasites, Fights Inflammation + Cancer Cells

  • Published on: 25 October, 2016
  • Last update: 09 December, 2018


In 2007, researchers published a groundbreaking article in the Planta Medica journal about how a certain enzyme was found to be far more effective than the traditional chemo-agent used in the treatment of cancer. That enzyme was bromelain, and its main natural source is pineapple.

In tests treating cancer in animals, bromelain was found to be more effective than 5-fluoracil (5-FU) when compared to an untreated control group. 5-FU has been used in the treatment of cancer for over 40 years, but its main problem is that it kills or irreversibly damages healthy cells and tissue as well as cancerous ones. Bromelain was not only found to be more effective but was also many times safer than 5-FU. This is due to ‘selective cytotoxity,’ which makes certain natural plant compounds able to kill cancerous cells in a self-disassembly process called apoptosis while leaving healthy cells unharmed.

Bromelain was first isolated from the pineapple in the 1800s. Soon after, the German Commission E approved it to treat swelling and inflammation after surgery, particularly sinus surgery. However, pineapple had already been used for centuries in Central and South America to reduce inflammation and treat indigestion.

Because bromelian is a protein-digesting enzyme (proteolytic), it is able to aid the digestion and amino acid breakdown of all protein foods, increasing the nutrients you absorb when eating them. (This is what sparked the invention of “Hawaiian Pizza” – a mixture of ham and pineapple!) Because tumors happen to have a very thick protein layer/coating, this proteolytic enzyme can help break down the layers and safely expose the cancerous cells to the immune system. This protective protein layer is part of what makes cancer so hard to treat, so enzymes like this are key!

Lastly, pineapples & their bromelain are also able to break down the substances secreted by tapeworms and other intestinal parasites which protect them from being burned by the body’s digestive juices. This makes them far easier to safely eliminate.


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