Scientific Name(S): Ananas comosus (L.) Merr. Family: Bromeliaceae
Common Name(S): Pineapple
Botany: The plant grows to heights of 2 to 4 feet. The well-known fruit of the pineapple is actually a complex flowerhead that forms around the stem. The pineapple is the only cultivated fruit whose main stem runs completely through it. Each of the eyes on the surface is the dried base of a small flower. The top crown of leaves contains a bud, which when mature, indicates the fruit is ready for cutting. Pineapples contain no seeds but are grown from their crowns.
History: Pineapples originated in South America and likely did not reach Hawaii until the 19th century. Europeans spread the plant throughout much of the world. Because of rising labor costs, today the bulk of pineapple production no longer occurs in Hawaii, but in regions of South America and the Philippines. The pineapple is cultivated for use as a fruit from which juices, syrups and candies are prepared. The plant has a long history in traditional tropical medicine for the treatment of ailments ranging from constipation to jaundice.
Uses of Pineapple:
Pineapple has been used to prevent ulcers, enhance fat excretion, burn debridement, and to reduce soft tissue inflammation and irritation.
Side Effects of Pineapple:
Pineapple extracts may produce dermal sensitization, uterine contractions, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, skin rash, and menorrhagia.
Toxicology: Repeated exposure of pineapple cutters to bromelain can result in the obliteration of fingerprints, and the hooked margins of the leaves can cause painful injury. Ethyl acrylate, an aromatic component of the juice can produce dermal sensitization.
Angular stomatitis can result from eating large amounts of the fruit. Large quantities of the juice have been reported to cause uterine contractions.Bromelain ingestion has been associated with nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, skin rash and menorrhagia.
Summary: The pineapple is a widely cultivated fruit. It is the source of the proteolytic enzyme bromelain, which is used in commercial meat tenderizers, and which continues to be used in medical practice as a soft tissue anti-inflammatory and for topical debridement.
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