Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Pomegranate for Prostate, Rheuma, Breast Cancer, Aromatase, Obesity, Diabetes, Inflammation, HIV, Influenza, Herpes, Crohn's, Hepatitis, Infertility ... You Name It!

Image 1: This drawing from a German 1885 compendium on the flora in Germany, Austria and Switzerland shows that other than Acai & Co, pomegranate is no exotic (expensive and useless) discovery of some fly-by-night supplement vendor.
People are always all the rave, when some clever scientist (or should I say business man?) dug up another of those exotic fruit from a godforsaken valley somewhere in the African or South-American primeval forests. With the hype around ACAI & Co they often forget that there have been real Superfoods just around the corner, right in their local grocery store for years. Pomegranate, as it becomes increasingly evident from recent research, is one of these Superfoods - one that has even been mentioned in the Book of Exodus and has been part of the Ayurevedic tradition for centuries, now. While I have been following the research for some months now, the one mind-boggling study result has always been missing so that this is in fact the first blogpost in quite some time on the "seedy apple" ("pommum", lat. "apple" + "granatus", lat. "grain, seed").

To be precise, this is a post that was triggered by a Facebook message from Lothar, who informed me about the publication of the preliminary results of a phase II trial on the effects of pomegranate extract in prostate cancer prevention (Carducci. 2011).

In all of the 104 patients, whose PSA levels were on the rise after local therapy, the PSA doubling time, which, contrary to absolute PSA values, appears to be a more or less reliable indicator of cancer progression (Semenuik. 2006; Lee. 2005), lengthened by an average of +55% and that regardless of the dosage (1g vs. 3g) the patients received.

This result is unquestionably pretty impressive, it is, however, only part of the picture that has been emerging over the past years. Even if we only include selected studies from the last three months (!), we have to add at least the following health benefits
Image 2: If you consider this pomegranate seed trail long, then you will feel that the list of their health benefits is endless ;-)
  • anti-rheumatic, anti-oxidant effect (Balbir-Gurman. 2011),
    reduction in the tender joint count by -62%; -25% reduced free radical-induced lipid peroxidation
  • inhibition of glucose-uptake (Kim. 2011),
    -50% Na+-dependent glucose uptake at 424 μg/ml pomegranate extract
  • anti-carcinogenic and pro-apoptotic effects (Dikmen. 2011),
    reduces profileration and induces apoptosis (programmed cell death) in breast cancer cells
  • cardioprotective selective estrogen receptor modulator (Sreeja. 2011)
    the methanol extract of pericarp of pomegranate is an effective and cardioprotective SERM without some of the negative side effects of tamoxifen, such as increases in uterine weight and proliferation
  • anti-obesity effect in diabetics (Gonzalez-Ortis. 2011)
    stops weight and fat gain in 20 obese diabetics
  • potent anti-inflammatory (Faria. 2011)
    not limited, but specifically effective in suppressing the NFκ-B pathway
  • promotes bone formation in fetus (Monsefi. 2011)
    when given as an extract to pregnant mice (no human data yet)
  • antiviral properties (Su. 2011)
    against HIV-1, influenza, herpes, and poxviruses, and human noroviral surrogates
  • protective effect against Crohn's disease (Rosillo. 2011)
    attributed to its ellagic acid content
  • antioxidant and antiartherogenic effects (Haber. 2011)
    protects from hardening of the arteries due to plaque buildup
  • ergogenic and anti-soreness effect (Trombold. 2011)
    pomegranate juice attenuates weakness and reduces soreness of the elbow flexor
  • nephro- and hepaprotective effect (Cayir. 2011)
    pomegranate seed extract attenuates chemotherapy-induced acute nephrotoxicity and hepatotoxicity 
  • protective against diet-induced obesity and diabetes (Vroegrijk. 2011)
    dietary pomegrenate seed oil ameliorates high-fat diet induced obesity and insulin resistance in mice, independent of changes in food intake or energy expenditure
  • pro-fertility effect / protection against lead poisoning (Leiva. 2011)
    due to its antioxidant activity an ethanolic extract of pomegranate reversed the damage produced by lead acetate on spermatogenesis 
  • oral antiplaque effect (Bhadhabe. 2011)
    pomegranate mouthrinse could be long-term antiplaque rinse with prophylactic benefits
to a still preliminary and yet already epic list of health-benefits of an ancient superfruit that is obviously not exotic and exciting enough to compete with the mostly useless, fancy-named herb and fruit extracts people are willing to spend millions of dollars on, year by year... ah, I forgot to mention: the ripe fruit also tastes damn good!