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Effect of purple passion fruit peel extract on asthma symptoms

Asthma is a chronic condition involving the respiratory system in which the airway occasionally constricts, becomes inflamed and is lined with excessive amounts of mucus. Asthma affects more than 400 million individuals worldwide (of which 30 million in Europe and 17 million in the United States) and its prevalence is increasing yearly. Because many asthmatic patients cannot tolerate currently available medications there is a need for a natural dietary treatment with low or no toxicity.

Passion fruit is often used as a ingredient in juice drinks because of its strong tropical taste and aroma. Passion fruit is also a rich source of vitamins and phytochemicals. Normally only the juice with the pips are eaten but recent research has shown that passion fruit peels are very rich source of phytochemicals, mainly flavonoids. Extracts from passion fruit have been traditionally used in South America to treat anxiety, insomnia, bronchitis and asthma. Previous studies have already demonstrated that purple passion fruit peel extract attenuated blood pressure of spontaneously hypertensive rats through nitric oxide modulation and reduced blood pressure in hypertensive patients. Watson et al. studied the efficacy of the purple passion fruit peel extract on asthma symptoms [1].

They selected 42 patients with asthma who took part in a 4-week randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind trial with oral administration of purple passion fruit extract or placebo pills. The scientists found that the intake of the passion fruit supplements reduced most clinical symptoms of asthma. The passion fruit extract supplementation reduced the wheezing by 75 percent and increased forced vital capacity. Also cough declined by 76 percent during the purple passion peel treatment whereas cough was reduced only by 48 percent in the control group. However no significant improvement was observed in the forced expiratory volume. The scientist theorized that the flavonoids with antioxidants and free radical scavenging activity in purple passion fruit extract were responsible for the observed effects. It is known that in asthmatic patients, oxidative stress occurs because of inflammation or from direct exposure to air pollution. The main phytochemicals found in the extract were edulilic acid, quercetin and cyanidin. They observed no adverse effects of the supplementation on the patients.

Watson pointed to some limitations of the study: possible inaccuracy of reporting of asthmatic symptoms by patients, small sample size and short period of the treatment.

The study concluded that purple passion fruit peel extract may be safely offered to asthmatic patients as an valuable alternative treatment option to reduce clinical symptoms.

Watson RS, Zibadi S, Rafatpanah H, Jabbari F, Ghasemi R, Ghafari J, Afrasiabi H, Yeap L, Faridhosseini R " Oral administration of the purple passion fruit peel extract reduces wheeze and cough and improves shortness of breath in adults with asthma" Nutrition Research, March 2008, 28(3):166-171.

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