Hello and welcome to my blog today. It gives me great pleasure to host RRBC’s Spotlight Author Gordon Bickerstaff!
Take it away, Gordon! 🙂
Several people who have read Deadly Secrets have asked if there is any underlying truth in the pineapple story arc.
The story line mentions bromelain from pineapple that has the power to digest blood clots, and as such could help reduce damage caused by heart attack and stroke, which are both cause by blood clots in the heart and brain respectively.
The story is based on a New Scientist article, and a copy of the original article is available here. The earliest written record of pineapple dates from the arrival of Columbus on Guadeloupe in 1493. By the end of the 16th century, cultivation of the plant had spread to most tropical areas of the world. The stock came from wild varieties that produced small apple-sized fruit, bore seeds and looked like a cone from a pine tree — hence the name pineapple. Current varieties were produced by plant breeding.
Columbus tasted the fruit and instantly appreciated its commercial potential. He was also intrigued by its medicinal uses. The islanders drank pineapple juice as an aid to digestion, and a cure for bellyache, particularly when feasting on meat. Women used it as a cleansing agent to improve the texture of their skin. Warriors treated wounds with pineapple flesh to promote healing.
In more recent times, biochemists have established an explanation for these varied uses: the pineapple plant is a rich source of bromelain, a “protease” enzyme that can break down proteins. Bromelain aids digestion because it breaks food protein to small peptides and amino acids.
The islanders of Guadeloupe found used concentrated preparations to remove body hair, again because bromelain breaks down the hair protein, keratin.
Columbus was more interested in the claim that pineapple flesh promotes rapid healing when applied to wounds sustained in battle.
The bromelain degrades damaged skin tissue, and attacks bacterial cells, providing a clean, smooth wound.
Biochemists are investigating a wide range of applications for bromelain, many of which build on the ancient remedies. Bromelain can help to treat a form of heart disease. Thrombosis, is the blockage of blood vessels by a clot, and clot, which is made largely of protein (fibrin), is responsible for almost half of the deaths in developed countries such as the UK.
Heart attacks are most often caused by a blockage of the blood vessels serving the heart. A stroke is the result of a similar blockage in the brain. Of course, clots are essential to plug gaps in damaged vessels and prevent blood from leaking into the tissues or out of the body, while repairs are made to seal the breach. In healthy people, there is a delicate balance between the formation of clots and their degradation.