Pomegranate

The pomegranate tree bears large, fleshy fruit that is packed with antioxidants and other nutrients. This unique plant offers several medicinal benefits.

Quick Facts
General Information
  • Common name(s)Pomegranate
  • Scientific namePunica granatum
  • Native regionCentral Asia
  • Main producer(s)United States of America
  • Main Economic UseMedicinal, Food industry, Cosmetics, Culinary
Medicinal and Nutritional Information
  • Medicinal actionAnti-inflammatory, Antiseptic
  • Key constituentsEllagic acid, punicalagin, pelletierine alkaloids
  • Ways to useCapsules, Decoctions, Hot infusions/tisanes, Food, Juiced, Tincture, Powder, Syrup
  • Medicinal rating(3) Reasonably useful plant
  • Safety rankingUse with caution
How to Consume [title]
  • Edible partsFruit, Seed
  • Edible usesBeverage
  • TasteSweet
Buying
  • Where to buySupermarkets, Farmers' markets, Specialized health stores, Online herb stores
Growing
  • Life cyclePerennial
  • Harvested partsRoots, Seeds, Fruit
  • Light requirementsFull sun
  • SoilLight (sandy)
  • Soil pH6.1 – 6.5 (Slightly acidic), 6.6 – 7.3 (Neutral)
  • Planting timeRight after last frost
Additional Information
  • Other usesCosmetics
Pomegranate

Pomegranate has been a valued fruit and herb for centuries, and it is still used today for its numerous nutritional and medicinal qualities. Its earliest use is believed to be as far back as the 1st century. Pomegranate was supposedly originally used as an herbal remedy by the Greek physician Dioscorides, who described the herb's ability to purge the body of tapeworms. Other folklore says that the pharaoh Tuthmosis allegedly brought back pomegranate from Asia to Egypt as early as 1500 BCE.

Traditionally, pomegranate was used by herbalists to get rid of intestinal parasites and help alleviate diarrhea and upset stomach. Pomegranates have also been shown to help prevent and treat conditions of the heart and blood vessels, like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, and carotid arteries. Additional medicinal benefits pomegranate offers are soothing treatment for hemorrhoids, preventing diabetes, and treatment for the flu and gum disease. Modern research has uncovered information about pomegranate's strong antioxidant activity, making it a popular "super fruit."

Medicinal and Nutritional Information

Quick Facts (Medicinal and Nutritional Information)
  • Medicinal actionAnti-inflammatory, Antiseptic
  • Key constituentsEllagic acid, punicalagin, pelletierine alkaloids
  • Ways to useCapsules, Decoctions, Hot infusions/tisanes, Food, Juiced, Tincture, Powder, Syrup
  • Medicinal rating(3) Reasonably useful plant
  • Safety rankingUse with caution
Pomegranate

Health Benefits of Pomegranate

Pomegranates possess antioxidant and antiseptic properties that have been recognized for numerous traditional medicinal uses:

  • Treating diarrhea and upset stomachs
  • Helping purge the body of tapeworms
  • Treating hemorrhoids
  • Preventing and treating high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes, and carotid arteries
  • Managing herpes simplex infections

How It Works

Pomegranate's health benefits are largely due to its strong antioxidant and antiseptic properties, which are found in tannins, flavonoids, and alkaloids. Together, these compounds work to protect cells from oxidative damage. The tannins in pomegranate also prevent herpes simplex virus 1 and 2 from replicating and being absorbed by cells.

Pelletierine alkaloids found in pomegranate bark are responsible for its antiseptic qualities.

The main compounds in pomegranate that are responsible for its beneficial health properties are tannins, flavonoids and alkaloids. The two compounds largely responsible for pomegranate's antioxidant activity are ellagic acid and punicalagin. Flavonoids also play an important role in pomegranate's antioxidant activity because of their effect in eliminating free radicals.

Pomegranate Side Effects

Pomegranate has long been a known allergen. Related to other food allergies, such as mango or peach, it is thought to be caused by lipid transfer protein, as lipid transfer proteins are thought to be the main cause of allergens from plants in the Rosaceae family. Reactions can include rashes, hives, and bronchospasms. Pomegranate also reacts or can interfere with the mechanism of certain medications, even including everyday painkillers like ibuprofen.

Pomegranate can also lower blood pressure, so when combined with medication for high blood pressure, it could be dangerous. In some cases, it can increase the effects of the drug in question and therefore should not be taken in conjunction with any medication without the approval of a trained physician.

How to Consume Pomegranate

Quick Facts (How to Consume [title])
  • Edible partsFruit, Seed
  • Edible usesBeverage
  • TasteSweet

Pomegranate has many uses, both nutritional and medicinal. However, its benefits are more concentrated in supplemental forms.

Supplements

Main preparations: Powder, capsules, syrup, tincture, decoction

  • Powder. The pomegrate fruit is dehydrated and processed into a fine powder that concentrates its medicinal benefits and can be added to beverages and smoothies.

  • Capsules. Softgel capsules are also available for medicinal use, and they offer the advantage of a convenient, daily doses, in order to manage blood pressure and weight.

  • Syrup. This is a highly concentrated form that can be taken orally to control hypertension.

  • Tincture. The crushed seeds of pomegrate, as well as its fresh juice can be added to an alcohol solution and be kept aside for few weeks until the properties of the herb have been extracted. Few drops of this tincture are diluted in water for medicinal effects.

  • Decoction. Boiling pomegranate for few minutes will allow for a more concentrated form of the herb, which can be drank on daily basis to keep in check cholesterol levels and get rid of intestinal worms.

Food

Main preparations: Raw, juiced

The fruit is widely consumed raw or in juice form. The fruit and juice are rich in antioxidants, which has caused its popularity to spike in recent years. Both presentations have been promoted as a functional food that has been shown to reduce free radicals in cells.

Pomegranate is a known as a "super food" because of its nutrient-rich qualities. Now that it is a widely consumed fruit, there are many creative ways to enjoy it. Other recommended ways to eat pomegranate include using it to dress a salad or to complement any dessert. The fruit is also processed into jams, syrups, wine, and candies.

Buying

Quick Facts (Buying)
  • Where to buySupermarkets, Farmers' markets, Specialized health stores, Online herb stores

Raw and Processed Pomegranate

Raw pomegranate can be found at most grocery stores or at local farmers markets. Pomegranate is popularly consumed in its original fruit form, or processed as juice. It is also made into jams, syrups, wine, and candies.

Pomegranate Supplements

Pomegranate extract is available in pill, capsule, or powder form. These can be found at most health stores. Due to their increasing popularity, pomegranate supplements can also be found online.

Growing

Quick Facts (Growing)
  • Life cyclePerennial
  • Harvested partsRoots, Seeds, Fruit
  • Light requirementsFull sun
  • SoilLight (sandy)
  • Soil pH6.1 – 6.5 (Slightly acidic), 6.6 – 7.3 (Neutral)
  • Planting timeRight after last frost

Pomegranate is a perennial plant that grows best in tropical and temperate climates with hot, dry summers and cool winters.

Growing Guidelines

  • Pomegranate prefers well-drained, sandy soil, with a neutral or slightly acidic pH.

  • The plant needs plenty of sunlight, but moderated watering for best results.

  • Because of its size and wide root systems, it is best to plant pomegranate in rows placed 22 feet (7 m) apart.

  • They plant can withstand considerable drought, but for the best fruit yield, it is recommended to water it once a week.

  • It is best to plant in early winter or late spring after the last frost.

  • Pomegranates have similar shelf-lives as apples, so they are best stored at a temperature of 32 - 41°F (0 - 5°C) after harvest.

Additional Information

Quick Facts (Additional Information)
  • Other usesCosmetics

Plant Biology

Pomegranate is a deciduous shrub or tree that can grow up to 20 feet (6 m) in height. Pomegranate plants are characterized by their bright orange-red flowers and large, fleshy, red fruit. The fruit is encased in a leathery rind with a prominent calyx attached.

  • Classification
    Pomegranate, or Punica granatum, is a member of the Punicaceae family. Pomegranate is one of the only two species in its genus, Punica, which is the sole genus in the Punicaceae family.
  • Varieties and Cultivars of Pomegranate
    Despite its long history of cultivation and use, no distinct subspecies of Punica granatum have been identified by botanists. However, a "dwarf" variety (Punica granatum var. nana) exists, and it's used mainly as an ornamental plant or a bonsai specimen. In addition, approximately 500 cultivars exist worldwide.

Historical Information

Pomegranates also played a role in Greek mythology: they were called the "fruit of the dead," referring to the story of Hades tricking Persephone into eating its seeds in order to keep her as his wife. However, its healing properties were forgotten after the fall of the Roman Empire, and it wasn't until the 19th century that herbalists began using pomegranate to get rid of tapeworms again, and it became recognized as a popular remedy.

Economic Data

Pomegranates have been a popular fruit ever since their discovery, but their popularity has spiked recently due to their high antioxidant content and other nutritional value. The leaders in pomegranate production and cultivation are the United States, specifically California, followed by Turkey. In California, an estimated 20,500 tons of pomegranate fruit are produced each year.

Other Uses

Aside from its nutritional and medicinal healing properties, the pomegranate rind was also supposedly used by the Ancient Romans as a leather substitute.

Pomegranate oil is also used in the cosmetic industry, in creams, massage oils, masques, and toners.

Bibliography

DISCLAIMER: The information provided is intended only as a general reference for further exploration, and is not a replacement for professional health advice. This information should be used only under the direct supervision of a qualified health practitioner such as a naturopathic physician. Information contained in HerbaZest.com is based on pharmacological records, scientific research, traditional knowledge and historical data, both old and modern. HerbaZest.com cannot be held responsible for the accuracy of the information provided.