Pomegranates have been prized for centuries because of their medicinal benefits
By Jaimi Jansen
The excessive influence and dependability that pharmaceuticals emit on our personal health and on medicine in general is setting off alarms and leading consumers toward natural sources such as pomegranates.
Many have gone as far as to avoid pharmaceuticals altogether, fearing the secondary effects that often tag along with the use of man-developed drugs. Now the demands for natural remedies to illnesses and super foods that act as medicine are becoming the major topic of discussion.
As times change, the development of new sciences not only provide us with new pharmaceuticals but also with the tools necessary to take a deeper, more meticulous look into nontraditional forms of medicine. Recent studies on pomegranates and pomegranate products suggest that not only are they a super food, but also a natural form medicine in their own right.
Pomegranates (Punica Granatum) are showing remarkable potential in the field of medicine. Offering a wide range of nutritional value, immune support and above all a natural form of medicine for combating some of today’s leading killers, heart disease and cancer.
Most of these newly discovered attributes of the super food are so promising they are being studied at a clinical level, having entered phase II clinical trial research for the treatment of prostate cancer.
Pomegranates like most fruits provide us with a vast amount of nutritional value. A cup of pomegranatearils (shiny red seeds) provides us with about 7 grams filling fiber and 3 grams of protein, with a side of vitamins C, K, and even Folate. These three vitamins have a huge effect on the production and quality of blood that circulate our bodies.
Vitamin C is commonly known to support the immune system because it is necessary for the proper function of t-cells and phagocytes. Both types of cell are responsible for the elimination of infected cells and of unwanted microbes that enter the body, amongst many other functions. Vitamin K and folate have a huge effect on the development of blood, Vitamin K allowing blood to coagulate and repair injuries while folate participates in the proper formation of RNA and DNA, the genetic material that makes up each individual.
The nutritional values and even the support it provides to the immune system are attributes that are often well known. Its potential as medicine is what draws so many eyes to this delicious fruit. Pomegranates are rich in antioxidants, mainly the powerful antioxidant punicalagin, often credited with the anti-inflammatory properties of the fruit. It is this anti-inflammatory property of pomegranates and pomegranate products that link the fruit to the prevention and even possible treatment of some lethal medical conditions such as heart disease and cancer.
Studies on animals that were administered controlled amount of pomegranate juice have shown a significant decrease in the inflammation levels that the animals experience all across, including intestines, lungs and heart.
Tying it all together
How does this tie to heart disease and cancer? Well, the inflammatory pathway being one of our strongest forms of defense by the immune system, plays an important role in the development and progression of both heart disease and cancer. In heart disease, it significantly reduces the rate of atherosclerosis, which can be defined as the hardening and thinning of blood vessels, often the cause of heart attacks and strokes. Studies show that frequent consumption of pomegranate juice reduces blood pressure, which is also directly ties to heart disease.
Typically, atherosclerosis begins with damage to the lining of blood vessels, the endothelium. This initial damage to the endothelial lining is further aggravated by high blood pressure and high levels of LDL (low-density lipoprotein) in one’s blood, the bad cholesterol. The small damaged areas in the endothelium get filled with LDL, this triggers an immune reaction similar to inflammation.
White blood cells arrive at the area where LDL is merging with the endothelial lining to digest it and break it down.Unfortunately, this process more than results in the formation a plaque or a “bump”along the lining of the vessel due to the concentration of various immune components in one area. This “bump” forms a blockage that increases one blood pressure, and high blood pressure stopped by a blockage can lead the rupturing the vessel. These blockages can happen all throughout the body. When it happens in a vessel in the heart, it is called a heart attack. When it happens in the brain, it is a stroke. Because a lot of heart and circulatory problems originate with high blood pressure, pomegranates roles in reducing it greatly affect their prevention and treatment.
In the case of cancer, the effect that pomegranates have on reducing inflammation is key. When a tumor develops, there are a variety of chemical signals that emit from the developing mass. These signals are a response to the tumor running out of an immediate source of oxygen and nutrients to further develop. The tumor now seeks to be vascularized, meaning that it wants a direct delivery of both oxygen and nutrients. This signals trigger an inflammatory immune response in which two types of cells are sent to the site, macrophages and granulocytes.
The cells dive deep within the tumor and once there, the secrete molecules called cytokines with mark the start of a process known as angiogenesis, the development of blood vessels to the area. In this manner, the suppression of inflammation can greatly affect the rate at which cancer develops. It helps prevent the inflammatory response that sends out macrophages and granulocytes, in term stopping the tumor from developing a delivery system of blood and necessary nutrients.
Although much is left to learn about the medical properties of pomegranates, the properties they show thus far are worth our attention. What better to way prevent heart disease and cancer than by the intake of natural medicine.
To learn more about how you might reduce your dependance on pharmaceuticals, consult a Nutritionist.