Pomegranates are popping up everywhere in Israel this time of year. They are amazingly beautiful to see and are a sign that the Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah) is coming. There is a tradition to eat them on the first night of Rosh Hashanah as a siman (sign) that the coming year we will have an “increase in our merits”. It is one of the Shivat Haminim, the Seven Species for which the Land of Israel is praised. Personally, I think there should be a tradition to eat them all year round because they’re also extremely good for our health! Let’s start our new year off right with a discussion about the powerful medicinal properties of pomegranates.
Anti-inflammatory - Pomegranate seeds possess anti-inflammatory properties – they inhibit enzymes (cyclooxygenase and lipooxygenase) that are responsible for inflammation. Tylenol also works in this way. Eating pomegranate is a good choice for easing the pain associated with osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, or any other chronic inflammatory conditions.
Anti-osteoarthritis: Besides being able to block inflammation that causes pain in osteoarthritis, researchers believe that pomegranate can help block inflammation that contributes to the destruction of cartilage. In test tubes, extract of pomegranate blocked the production of an enzyme that destroys cartilage in the body.
Anti-aging – A glass of pomegranate juice a day could keep the wrinkles away, according to a study that showed it slowed down the ageing process of DNA. Researchers found that the antioxident rich juice also slowed down the natural oxidation ('wear and tear') of DNA. The results found a significant decrease in a marker associated with cell damage that disrupts brain, muscle, liver and kidney functions, as well as speeding up the aging process.
Heart protector - At Technion University, Israel’s Institute of technology, it was shown that pomegranate juice has heart protective, immune enhancing properties similar to those in green tea. Pomegranate has also been shown to lower bad LDL cholesterol and raise good HDL cholesterol. One study of mice with atherosclerosis showed that pomegranate juice slowed the growth of arterial plaque formation. A few small studies in people found that pomegranate juice improved blood flow and kept arteries from becoming thick and stiff, which causes high blood pressure. Pomegranate also lowers blood pressure, mainly systolic blood pressure (the top number in a blood pressure reading).
Menopause: In the Middle east there is a tradition to use pomegranates to treat menopause. It has been shown recently to play a role in preventing and treating estrogen-related cancers.
It is the only plant in the world that contains estrone, which is produced from progestrone, estrodiol and androgens. Estrone is often the main source of estrogen in postmenopausal women or women who have had their ovaries removed. Post-menopausal women would greatly benefit from pomegranates to relieve the common symptoms of menopause.
Hormone Balancing - Also pomegranates alter the estrogen receptors, altering the effect of all the excess estrogen in the environment, which is important in North America and Israel were women are overloaded by environmental estrogens which leads to estrogen dominance.
Anti-cancer: In test tubes, pomegranate extracts made from juice, rind, and oil slow down the reproduction of cancer cells and hastened their death. Some extracts also help reduce blood supply to tumors, starving them and making them smaller. In one human study, men who had undergone surgery or radiation for prostate cancer and drank 8 oz. of pomegranate juice a day, effected the amount of time it took for their PSA levels to double. Men whose PSA levels double in a short period of time are more at risk for death from prostate cancer. If you are being treated for any cancer, be sure to ask your oncologist before you take pomegranate or any herb or supplement. Some may interact with cancer medications, making the medications less effective.
Immune Enhancing: Pomegranate fruit is very high in vitamin C. One pomegranate provides about 40% of the daily requirement of this vitamin, juice would provide even more. Vitamin C is important for a functional immune system. C and it helps wounds heal and skin maintain its elasticity.
How to Take It: There is no standard recommended dose for pomegranate. Eating the fruit and drinking the juice as part of a healthy diet is considered safe. Juice is probably a more cost effective way to get the health benefits. Drinking 8 - 12 oz. of pomegranate juice per day is considered safe. Look for 100% juice with no added sugar.
Possible Interactions and Precautions:
Pomegranate may trigger side effects when it is taken with some herbs, supplements, or medications. Theoretically, pomegranate juice may interact with several medications (much like grapefruit juice does). For that reason, be sure to tell your doctor if you drink pomegranate juice. If you have diabetes, ask your doctor before drinking fruit juices, including pomegranate. If you have diarrhea, do not drink pomegranate juice or take pomegranate extract. Pregnant women should not take pomegranate extract because it may contain fruit rind. The juice, however, is considered safe.
I would highly recommend a handful of Pomegranate seeds or a glass of Pomegranate juice each day as a great addition to your diet. Have a Happy and Healthy New year!
Dr. Anders Nerman, N.D. is a Naturopathic Doctor with an Integrative Family Medical practice in Wolfson Medical Center in Jerusalem, Israel. He has focus in the treatment of Digestive Disorders, Food Allergy/Intolerance Testing, Infertility and Hormone Balancing, Chronic Pain/Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue and Weight Loss. For more info contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.drnerman.com. To book an appointment call 054-427-8667.
Information is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. Always speak with your physician or other healthcare professional before taking any medication or nutritional, herbal or homeopathic supplement, or adopting any treatment for a health problem.