If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you may notice that I have lots of ‘favourites’. Which seems a bit funny, but I really find that there is so much to love about each and every herb that I use in my dispensary. And while I use all herbs on a regular basis, there are some that I believe deserve a special mention.
One of these is Pomegranate.
Most of us are familiar with the pomegranate fruit, which seems to be becoming more ‘mainstream’, and easy-to-find in fruit and vegetable stores, as well as being used as a decorative ingredient in cooking. In ancient days, the pomegranate was a symbol of love and beauty, and it features in many of the myths and legends of old, from Asia to the Middle East. The fruit itself is hard on the outside, and the juicy seeds are the part that is eaten. However, you may be surprised to learn that us herbalists use not only the seed part of the fruit, but that the husk (the tough rind) can also be used as a medicinal herb. The particular herbal liquid that I use in my clinic is made up of a combination of the two - approximately 67% seed and 33% rind.
These days, herbalists are likely to use pomegranate for digestive infections (for instance, it has shown to be effective against E.Coli, Salmonella and Candida)1 . As re-building a healthy digestive system and re-establishing healthy gut function is crucial to restoring good health (from the bottom up – literally), pomegranate is often one of the herbs I’ll use when I see a client who I suspect has an overgrowth of something not-so-friendly in their digestive system. But it also has some other amazing uses as well:
- It’s good for blood pressure. A study examined the effect drinking pomegranate juice daily for 2 weeks reduced blood pressure.2
- It is good for the immune system, including protecting against viruses (particularly food-borne viruses – the ones that can cause ‘gastro’)
- It is thought to protect the brain. Studies have been performed where pomegranate has shown promise for the treatment/prevention of Alzheimer’s disease.3
- It is high in antioxidants, meaning that it may be beneficial for people with issues such as heart health, cancer and inflammatory issues (eg. pain, autoimmune diseases, mood disorders)
As with all herbs, just because it is natural, don’t automatically assume it is safe to use in all circumstances. Pomegranate has been consumed for centuries, and is recognized as a herb that has a good safety record. However, it pays to keep in mind that it has not been assessed for safety during pregnancy or breastfeeding, therefore it is best avoided at these times. Pomegranate is also thought to interfere with some pharmaceutical medications (in some cases this may be a good thing – in other words, Pomegranate may enhance the effect of the pharmaceutical). Drugs that may be affected by this herb include antibiotics, blood pressure medications, antiviral medications and blood-thinners.
Pai V., Chanu, T.R., Chakaroborty, R., Raju, B., Lobo, R., & Ballal, M. (2011). Evaluation of the antimicrobial activity of Punica granatum peel against the enteric pathogens: an in vitro study. Asian Journal of Plant Science and Research, 1(2), 57-62.
Aviram, M., & Dornfeld, L. (2001). Pomegranate juice consumption inhibits serum angiotensin converting enzyme activity and reduces systolic blood pressure. Atherosclerosis, 158(1), 195-198.
Hartman, R.E., Shah, A., Fagan, A.M., Schwetye, K.E., Parsadanian, M., Schulman, R.N., Finn, M.B., & Holtzman, D.M. (2006). Pomegranate juice decreases amyloid load and improves behaviour in a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease. Neurobiology of Disease, 24(3), 506-515.