Asthma affects approximately 4% of the American population (about 9 million people) with up to 7% of Americans experiencing asthma at one time or another during their lifetimes. Asthma occurs most frequently in children and young adults, and fortunately, 50 to 70% of children outgrow the disease. Asthma is the most common cause of school absence and hospital admission in children.
Common symptoms of asthma include difficulty in breathing, coughing, wheezing, and the use of accessory muscles to facilitate breathing; apprehension; fast heart rate (up to 120 beats a minute); flared nostrils and increased symptoms of respiratory distress. Serious attacks include a feeling of tightness in the chest with thick and tenacious production of mucus. The underlying mechanisms, which bring about the sudden attacks of wheezing, are not fully understood.
Factors that have been confirmed to contribute to asthma are genetic predisposition, viral respiratory infection, emotional upset, inhalation of cold air, fumes from fresh paint, tobacco smoke, chemicals, and other airborne irritants. The exposure to specific allergens (foods, liquids, or fabrics), and such nonspecific factors as change in temperature can also cause symptoms. A family history of asthma or allergies, such as eczema, appears in about half of all asthmatics.
New Hope - Bromelain Reduces Asthma in Mice
Bromelain, a proteolytic enzyme found in pineapple, was shown to reduce the inflammation associated with asthma in mice. The findings were presented during the 19th annual convention of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians, held in 2004 in Seattle, and are scheduled for presentation at the American Thoracic Society's Convention in May of this year.
Eric R Secor Jr, ND, MS, of the University of Connecticut in Farmington and colleagues treated mice in whom acute asthma was induced with a regimen of 2 milligrams per kilogram body weight bromelain, 6 milligrams per kilogram bromelain, or saline. After 8 days, the researchers examined blood, lung tissue and lung lavage samples and found that bromelain significantly reduced total white blood cell count, which is elevated with the onset of asthma, compared to the saline group. They also found that eosinophils, a type of white blood cell that is a cell marker for the disease, were lowered by 50 percent in the animals who received bromelain. Mice who received the higher dose of bromelain experienced the greatest response.
Bromelain modifies the production of compounds produced in the body that cause swelling and pain. By reducing inflammation, blood more readily circulates in an injured area, which reduces pain and accelerates healing. Bromelain also breaks down fibrin, a protein involved in blood clotting.
Dr Secor told Life Extension Update, "Clinical trials with bromelain will provide the data necessary to prove effectiveness in a number of inflammatory conditions such as asthma, arthritis and autoimmune disease."