Researchers at the University of Ilorin (UNILORIN) have attested to the potency of a substance in pineapples that inhibits the inflammation problems caused by the COVID-19.
Prof. Bamidele Owoyele, who did the research titled: “Bromelain reduced pro-inflammatory mediators as a common pathway that mediate antinociceptive and antianxiety effects in sciatic nerve litigated Wistar rats” with his PhD student, Ahmed Olalekan Bakare, said bromelain can be found in varying quantities in the pineapple fruit, skin and stems.
In a phone interview on his research, Owoyele said: “Bromelain is a constituent that we find in pineapples. This bromelain, you find it mainly in the stem of pineapples, but you have a little amount on it in the flesh, the one we eat. And we also have a little more in the peel at the back. If you know zobo, they use that peel to also make zobo. Yes they add it. It also contains bromelain. But, the main one that has the majority of the bromelain is the stem, the one that carries the pineapple that we eat.
“This bromelain is very good in helping to stop inflammation and pain, that is, wound and swelling – internal swelling. So COVID-19 has a way of causing inflammation within the system. We now realised that if we use this bromelain, it can reduce the factors that cause that swelling so the bromelain can reduce it.
We now postulated that because we have seen it do that on some injured nerves in the nervous system, that if we use it for the treatment of Covid-19, there will be dramatic changes. So, we are now advocating that it should be considered for the management of COVID-19.
“In the eighth to the eleventh week of the COVID-19 infection there is what we call the cytokine storm – that is when that sickness is critical for people; that is when they start gasping for air and they are not able to breathe well because these chemicals fill up the lungs. So, if you use bromelain or eat a lot of pineapples, it may have the capacity to reduce that activity. And we believe that it will help the individual to cope with the covid-19 problem.”
Owoyele, a Professor of Physiology with a focus on Neuro Sciences, told The Nation that the research work has been published in two journals – the Scientific Report and the International Journal of Nature Communication published on January 11, 2021, and the Nigerian Journal of Physiological Sciences in June last year.
“There are two things that we published. We published one in the Nigerian Journal of Physiological Sciences, which was the June edition last year. In that publication, we actually did the review and proposed that Bromelain should be used as part of the management for COVID-19. The second publication was what came on 11th of January where we clearly said that this Bromelain has anti-inflammatory activities and can clearly rescue damaged nerves. It is just reinforcing our perception when we published that one in June.
“We published in Scientific Report published by Nature Communication.”
Owoyele said some foreign researchers had also done work that showed similar promise about the efficacy of the substance in even preventing COVID-19.
“Apart from our own research, another group in America came up to say that it does not allow COVID-19 SARS-COV2 to bind with our cells. So there are so many ways in which this Bromelain can hinder infections of COVID-19. Another group of researchers published another thing to show that this Bromelain in another way can prevent infection,” he said.
Scientists in the United States had done similar studies on the efficacy of Bromelain in COVID-19 treatment and whether the Bromelain supplementary tablet used for pain relief could also be used for COVID-positive patients.
Bromelain already exists as a supplementary tablet and is sold abroad in countries like the United States and India. But in Nigeria, where it is not common, the don said eating lots of pineapples or boiling the skin and drinking it as is commonly done with Zobo or alone would also be effective in releasing its anti-inflammatory properties.
“In the absence of Bromelain, let them eat a lot of pineapples or use the bark (peel) – the bark that is popular for zobo – either they use it in zobo or extract it in water and drink it as often as possible. Already, people have reached out to tell me that they are already doing it and they are finding a lot of relief. It is unconfirmed; I cannot mention them. But some people who are COVID-positive have reached out to me that they used and found great relief,” he said.