65 Roses

Illustration of the muscle tissues

Most everyone over 40 can attest… aging gracefully just ain’t that easy. We long to have the energy and vitality that comes with youth, and we struggle to accept that it doesn’t last forever. As we age, our bodies remember the traumas, the stresses, the infections, and the strains and sprains. We call it “wear and tear” for good reason… it tears us down and wears us out.

In the muscles and soft tissues, part of that wear and tear process involves the deposition of microscopic ribbons of scar tissue. Those “micro-scars” are made of a substance called fibrin, and the process of fibrin accumulation in soft tissues is known as fibrosis.

There are many diseases that have fibrosis as a hallmark. One of the most serious of these diseases is cystic fibrosis (CF), which is characterized by intense fibrosis in the lungs. The fibrosis compromises lung function and leads to lung infections, accumulation of mucus and debris, and a tragically early death in most cases. Other serious illnesses that have fibrosis as a hallmark include cirrhosis of the liver, Crohn’s disease in the intestine, scleroderma, and many other serious medical conditions.

Right now, many of you are wondering why the title of this post is “65 Roses.” Well, it’s a sad and sweet story: many children with CF can’t pronounce the words cystic fibrosis… so they say 65 roses instead. I’m with the kids… I think 65 roses sounds better anyway.

Thankfully, the serious diseases that involve fibrosis are fairly rare… but non-pathogenic fibrosis in muscles is amazingly common. It can occur in virtually any body system that has been subjected to trauma, injury, or infection, or even from disuse or prolonged inactivity. In fact, almost everyone over 40 has some degree of fibrosis somewhere.

When tissues become fibrotic, they lose their suppleness and their elasticity. They become more firm, less flexible, and they simply don’t work as well as they used to. When it occurs in a blood vessel; the vessel get stiffer and the blood pressure in that vessel will rise. When fibrosis occurs in a muscle, the muscle will feel tight, stiff, sore, and less able to perform daily activities and athletics.

Medical researchers have been hard at work for many years looking for ways to stop fibrosis, with the hope of a cure for CF and other life threatening fibrotic illnesses. Thankfully, there is progress being made… CF patients in the 1960s had an average life expectancy of just 10 years, but modern medicine has increased life expectancy in CF patients to nearly 40 years today.

One of the interesting “side effects” of research on CF is that treatments for other, more common types of fibrosis are emerging as well. An example is new research out of Boston Children’s Hospital, which is shedding new light on an older CF drug called Pulmozyme. In those patients, it is used to thin out mucus in the lungs… but it turns it out it may actually help with fibrosis itself. This has led to an emerging area of research focused on developing drugs that inhibit genes that are involved in fibrosis.

As exciting as these advances may be… there is no need to wait. We already know of a natural, non-pharmaceutical substance that helps prevent and treat soft tissue fibrosis… it’s called bromelain. Bromelain is an enzyme found in pineapple, concentrated in the stems and core of the fruit. This enzyme is actually used in many meat tenderizers because of its ability to break up fibrin and make meat softer and more tender. This “tenderizing” property of bromelain works for human health, as well. When taken with meals, it acts as a digestive enzyme, to help you break down your food. When taken between meals, bromelain will be absorbed into the bloodstream where it can circulate and “tenderize” your muscles.

Some of you may be wondering if you can just eat a bunch of pineapple to reap these benefits. Pineapple is a wonderful fruit to eat, and I encourage you to enjoy it… but unfortunately, in order to achieve therapeutic levels of bromelain, you need to take it in the form of a supplement.

People who have tight, sore muscles often get significant relief by taking a high-quality, medical grade bromelain supplement. It helps to relieve pain, reduce inflammation, and combats the process of fibrosis. Taking bromelain on a regular basis may help to reduce some of the stiffness that often comes with the aging process, leaving you feeling more youthful, active, and overall healthy.

The antifibrotic and anti-inflammatory properties of bromelain are just a couple reasons why it’s a star ingredient in my AI-4X formula. If muscle stiffness, or any type of inflammation, are issues for you, check it out here.

– Dr. Joshua Levitt