Why am I coughing so much? Jacklyn Stansbury gasped, trying to catch her breath. Afraid she’d scare her grandchildren, whom she babysat regularly, the Newfoundland, Canada, home-care worker had tried everything to silence her nagging cough. But for months, nothing had worked. She had been a smoker for 30 years and worked hard to quit in the hopes it would help her feel better, but Jacklyn was worried when her cough only grew worse.
Soon, she was regularly wheezing and struggling to breathe, so she decided to visit her doctor. To Jacklyn’s alarm, she discovered her symptoms were due to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), an inflammatory lung disease that causes obstructed airflow in the lungs. “Your airways don’t function normally, impairing your ability to clear mucus by coughing,” Jacklyn’s doctor said. Will I be struggling to breathe for the rest of my life? she feared.
Her anxiety only grew as prescription medication and cough suppressants did little to help, and once-simple daily tasks like showering took double the time and left her out of breath, wheezing, and panicked.
It’s a terrible disease, I have tried everything to get rid of this chronic cough, Jacklyn wrote on a Facebook COPD support group that she’d joined shortly after being diagnosed. To her surprise, a few of her new friends replied with encouragement and a very surprising solution: Unsweetened pineapple juice.
Why does pineapple juice get rid of coughing?
Pineapple juice? I’ve never heard of that helping a cough, Jacklyn thought skeptically. But after researching, she was intrigued to find that the juice contains an enzyme called bromelain, which has powerful anti-inflammatory and “mucolytic” properties that help thin, break up and expel the thick mucus that plagues many COPD sufferers.
It can’t hurt to try! Jacklyn decided, starting with a four-ounce glass the next morning, which was when she often struggled with thick mucus that not even her strongest cough could loosen. To her shock, with one glass, she felt it begin to break up — and suddenly, she was coughing much less.
Today, drinking pineapple juice, or eating the fruit, is a crucial part of Jacklyn’s daily routine. “It’s changed my life!” the 56-year-old cheers. “I no longer feel panicked or out of breath. I can even run after my grandkids without coughing!”
What’s so powerful about bromelain?
This protein-digesting enzyme found in pineapple delivers a variety of whole-body benefits. Here are a few:
It eases belly bloat.
Nibbling on half a cup of raw pineapple can cut indigestion by 55 percent in just 20 minutes. University of Connecticut researchers say its bromelain speeds the digestion of proteins and fats to promote faster stomach emptying.
It shrinks varicose veins.
When fibrin, a clotting protein, builds up in veins, it causes them to bulge. But researchers say supplementing with bromelain on an empty stomach breaks down fibrin so it’s flushed from the bloodstream, restoring blood flow and eliminating unsightly bulges.
It erases age spots.
Bromelain breaks down dead, discolored skin cells to speed their removal. To do: Once daily, saturate cotton balls with pineapple juice and place on spots on the hands, neck, or face for 10 minutes, then rinse.
“Bromelain is a powerhouse healing enzyme,” says health expert Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD. In fact, taking bromelain daily helps dissolve sticky biofilms that shield harmful bacteria and viruses so immune cells can destroy them.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.