Botanical: Punica granatum
Family: Punicaceae (pomegranate) - Lythraceae (purple loosestrife)
Other common names: Granada, Melogranato, Grenadier, Granatum, Chinese Apple
Pomegranate has been used since time immemorial as an herbal remedy for intestinal worms by ridding the intestines of tapeworm infestation and other parasites. It is also a natural astringent that has been used to ease chronic diarrhea and dysentery, and recent studies show great promise in the area of strong antioxidant protection for a healthy heart and malignant prostate and breast disease.
The information presented herein by Herbal Extracts Plus is intended for educational purposes only. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent disease. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.
The Pomegranate is one of a species of fruit-bearing, deciduous shrubs or trees, and it is believed to have originated in the area from eastern Iran to India; however, its true native range has not accurately been determined because of its extensive cultivation throughout the warm areas of the world. The tree bears slender, oblong, glossy leaves with bright red flowers and fruits (containing edible pulp and seed grains) that range in size from an orange to a grapefruit, and it grows as an ornamental, thriving in well-drained soil in full sun, reaching a possible height of thirty feet. Pomegranates may grow wild and are drought tolerant, but they fruit most successfully when cultivated in long, hot, summer climates; in wet areas, they are prone to root decay from fungal diseases. It is said that the Iranian cities of Kashan, Saveh and Yazd cultivate and produce the finest Pomegrantes in the world. Pomegranate's medicinal history may be traced back to antiquity. In the Old Testament, it is noted that Pomegranate figures were woven onto the borders of Hebrew priestly robes, and Kings chapter 7:13-22 describes Pomegrantes depicted in King Solomon's temple in Jerusalem. Jewish tradition teaches that the Pomegranate is a symbol for righteousness, and many Jews eat Pomegranates on Rosh Hashanah and Sukkot. Pomegranate was mentioned as a cure for tapeworms in the famed Ebers Papyri (circa 1500 B.C.) that was found in Egypt, and was also used for that purpose in ancient Greece (the same use echoed in today's herbal medicine). Pomegranate was regarded as a medicinal herb in Traditional Chinese Medicine around 470 A.D., and was considered a symbol of fertility in times past and was eaten by childless women. It is said that Europeans largely overlooked the medicinal applications of Pomegranate until 1804, when a practitioner in India cured an Englishman of tapeworm infestation. The fruits are eaten fresh, and the seed grains are used to garnish desserts. Pomegranate juice is famous as the cordial called Grenadine, an important ingredient in cocktails, as well as an important flavoring for drinks, fruit salads, sorbets, ice creams and natural health fruit juices (in England, Pomegranate juice is endorsed by the cholesterol charity, HEART UK). Preliminary studies have suggested that Pomegranate juice may contain almost three times the total antioxidant ability compared to the same quantity of green tea or red wine. The bark, root, fruit and fruit rind are used in herbal medicine. Some of the constituents in Pomegranate include fruit acids (ellagic and gallagic), antioxidant ellagitannin compounds (punicalagins and punicalins), sugar, polyphenols (including the remarkable resveratrol), tannins, anthocyanins, alkaloids (pelletierine, etc.), gum, protein, iron, calcium, phosphorus and potassium. One Pomegranate is believed to deliver forty percent of an adult's vitamin C requirement, the antioxidant vitamins A and E, and it is also said to be a rich source of folic acid and niacin.
Pomegranate is considered to be an anthelmintic or substance that destroys and expels intestinal worms. Of all types of intestinal worm infestations, Pomegranate is said to be most useful in cases of tapeworm, an incredibly long parasite, which attaches itself to the intestinal walls of its host by means of spined or sucking structures. Pomegranate is believed to contain an unusual alkaloid content, called pelletierine, which was discovered in 1878, and an apparently exceptionally effective for expelling worms and parasites from the intestinal tract.
Pomegranate is a bittersweet, warming, astringent herb; and its fruit peel contains about thirty percent tannin, which is an active astringent substance. As such, it has been used to counter looseness of bowels, control chronic diarrhea and alleviate amœbic dysentery when used in proper dosages.
With regard to heart health, the polyphenols in Pomegranate are currently being studied for their abilities as antixodiants that may be responsible for free radical scavenging. In several human clinical trials, Pomegranate has been found effective in reducing several heart risk factors, including LDL (low-density lipoproteins or "bad cholesterol") oxidation, macrophage oxidative status and foam cell formation, all of which are steps in arteriosclerosis and heart disease. Israeli scientists claim that Pomegranate may prevent the thickening of arteries.
Interesting research from China proposes that Pomegranate may be helpful in weight management programs. Researchers found that Pomegranate suppressed appetite in laboratory mice and, perhaps more importantly, inhibited the absorption of fat in the intestines, thus inhibiting weight gain in the animals, despite being fed a high fat diet.
Pursuant to both cardiac health and weight management, in 2012, scientists from Belgium’s Université Catholique de Louvain reported that consumption an extract from Pomegranate peel enhanced the growth of prebiotic bifidobacteria (healthy beneficial micro-organisms found naturally in the intestines) and may be a natural alternative for lowering incidence of obesity and cardiovascular disease. Results published in the British Journal of Nutrition also indicated that the polyphenol-rich extract was associated with reductions in total and LDL cholesterol levels, as well as reduced pro-inflammatory markers in the colon associated with consumption of a high-fat diet.
Researchers at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine claim that Pomegranate shows major promise in the fight against malignant prostate disease. Pomegranate juice has been shown to suppress inflammatory cell signaling, inhibit prostate tumor growth and lower serum PSA levels. In vitro studies using malignant human cells, the higher the dose of Pomegranate extract the cells received, the more cells died. In laboratory tests using mice, the results were dramatic: Those receiving the higher concentration of Pomegranate extract showed significant slowing of their cancer progression and a decrease in the levels of prostate-specific antigen (PSA), a marker used to indicate the presence of prostate cancer in humans. "Our study, while early, adds to growing evidence that Pomegranates contain very powerful agents against cancer, particularly prostate cancer," says lead author, Dr. Hasan Mukhtar, Professor of Dermatology in the UW Medical School. Further (2009) research into prostate cancer prevention was demonstrated at the University of Mississippi, when studies indicated that the antioxidant ellagitannin compounds (punicalagins and punicalins) were thought to be behind the proposed health benefits, which included inhibition of cytochrome P450 1B1, an enzyme known to be highly expressed in various human malignancies, but not in normal tissues, and an established target in the prevention of prostate cancer. Other in vitro studies have demonstrated inhibition of aromatase activity due to ellagic acid, endogenous estrogen biosynthesis and breast cell proliferation. Research (2010) from the University of California, Los Angeles, indicated that ellagic acid may reduce the incidence of hormone-dependent breast cancer by inhibiting an enzyme aromatase that converts androgen to estrogen. Additional studies will be needed to confirm these initial findings.
According to Dr. Qi Dai, assistant professor of medicine at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, a ten-year study found that the particularly strong antioxidant effects of the polyphenols (including the important resveratrol), which may be found in Pomegranate, act to reduce the incidence of Alzheimer's disease. Other potent antioxidants,particularly ellagitannin compounds like punicalagins and punicalins, accounts for about half of the fruit's antioxidant ability, that are reportedly behind many health benefits.
Pursuant to Pomegranate's potent antioxidant properties, it is thought to beautify and improve skin health from inside-out by neutralizing skin-damaging renegade oxygen molecules created by pollution and ultraviolet rays. Both topical or dietary use of Pomegranate, which is rich in ellagic acid and ellagitannins, are promising strategies in curtailing skin wrinkling. 2010 research from Korea's Hallym University showed that ellagic acid reduced the UV-B-induced toxicity of these cells, helping to prevent collagen destruction in human skin cells, thus maintaining skin structure and slowing wrinkle formation. The interventions also diminished the cutaneous inflammation associated with chronic UV exposure that leads to photo-ageing.
Pomegranate is believed to possess antiviral and antiseptic properties, which have been helpful when applied to cuts. When used externally as a topical antiseptic, it is said to be beneficial in cases of skin problems, vaginal discharge and as a vaginal douche for leukorrhœa. Pomegranate's antibacterial activities also render it beneficial for oral health, helping to relieve mouth sores, throat infections (as an antiseptic gargle), mouth irritation; and several studies have indicated that treatment with Pomegranate extract significantly improved clinical signs of chronic periodontitis. Furthermore, its astringent action results in strengthened gums.
Pomegranate Herbal Supplement should not be used by pregnant and nursing women, and overuse (many times the recommended dosage) may cause cramps, vomiting and diarrhea. Pomegranate fruit should not be taken if you have diarrhea, and in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Pomegranate fruit should not be taken with oil or fats when used to treat parasite infections. Some people who are allergic to Pomegranate are also allergic to other fruits, pollen or nuts. Although only under discussion, the potent mix of antioxidants may interfere with a range of cholesterol drugs, such as Crestor and Lipitor, as well as some high-blood-pressure medications, causing drop in blood pressure; thus, it is wise to consult a physician if you are taking these medications.