Powdered passion fruit may cure asthma, say scientists

A FRUIT commonly found on supermarket shelves might be a cure for the world's 400 million sufferers of asthma, new research reveals.

Scientists are hailing the passion fruit as a potential breakthrough in the battle against the disease, which can lead to potentially fatal attacks.

The peel contains a menu of compounds, chemicals, acids and other ingredients that could provide relief to asthmatics everywhere.

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It is being lined up as a non-toxic alternative to medicines, or at least a healthy dietary supplement to combat the wheezing and breathlessness suffered by millions because of asthma.

The passion fruit originated in South America, but is now grown worldwide.

Like other dark fruits, from red grapes to blueberries, it seems the purple passion fruit – as opposed to the more yellow-green varieties – is one of nature's "superfoods".

Scientists from the University of Arizona and Mashhad Medical University in Iran, took extracts of peel, turned them into a powder

and tested it on groups of asthma sufferers in the United States and Iran over four weeks.

Half the 42 sufferers were given the passion fruit peel (PFP) and half a placebo in the blind tests. Recording the results in the journal Nutrition Research, the researchers noted "the PFP extract significantly improved the symptoms of asthma after only four weeks. Patients experienced less wheezing, coughing and shortness of breath compared with the placebo group".

The skin of the purple passion fruit contains three major chemical compounds and acids that can help to reduce blood pressure and ease hypertension. It is also high in antioxidants, and while this is known to be good for the heart, it may also be part of the reason why passion fruit eases asthma symptoms.

Antioxidants can fight shortage of breath known as "oxidative stress", the kind caused by asthma or pollution in the air.

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The fruit's skin is also rich in flavonoids, which act as nature's antihistamine treatment – similar to the most common cures for allergies and hayfever in pills and medicines.

This ties in with tribes in South America who have used passion fruit for centuries to cure what the West would call stress-related ailments – insomnia, anxiety and being short of breath.

Those taking the PFP extract saw their coughing reduce by 76 per cent and up to four in five had their wheezing cured. And while 90 per cent of all sufferers complained of shortage of breath before the start of the tests, only 10 per cent of those on the PFP treatment still had it by the end.