Pomegranate has been used for thousands of years to treat a wide variety of diseases, and is found in Greek, Hebrew, Buddhist, Islamic, and Christian writings(1). Pomegranate contains a variety of components that might have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory(2) effects. Pomegranate is considered to be a superfood for its antioxidant activity. It contains ellagitannins, gallotannins, ellagic acid, flavonoids such as anthocyanin and epicatechin, and phenolic acid. Pomegranate juice antioxidant activity was found to be three times higher than that of red wines and green teas, and two to six times stronger than the other natural beverages(2). Pomegranate is used for conditions of the heart and blood vessels, including high blood pressure, congestive heart failure (CHF), heart attack, “hardening of the arteries” (atherosclerosis), and high cholesterol1. It has become popular due to its nutraceutical and therapeutic effects such as reducing blood pressure, reversing damage on vessels, preventing prostate cancer and arthritis, protecting phagocyte cells, maintaining blood glucose levels in normal range, stimulating T cell function, supporting formation of cytokines, and increasing the capacity of cells which naturally inhibit tumors(7).
There is significant evidence showing that certain cytokines are involved in the initiation and persistence of pathologic pain. Cytokines (e.g., interferon, interleukin, and growth factors) are secreted by certain cells of the immune system and affect other cells. Certain inflammatory cytokines are involved in nerve-injury/inflammation-induced central sensitization, and are related to the development of many painful conditions, such as neuropathies, complex regional pain syndrome, postherpetic neuralgia, fibromyalgia, and migraine(3). Heart disease, metabolic syndrome and Type 2 diabetes have increased concentration of circulatory cytokines as a result of inflammation(2). Pomegranate juice may beneficially effect some inflammatory markers in patients with Type 2 diabetes through a significant decrease in IL-6 and hs-CRP in plasma(2).
High blood pressure, or “hypertension,” is associated with high levels of oxidative stress in the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus. One study found pomegranate extract may alleviate hypertension by reducing oxidative stress and improving mitochondrial function in the paraventricular nucleus(4). The paraventricular nucleus is part of the hypothalamus (PVN) and is important for autonomic control of stress, metabolism, growth, reproduction, immune, and other more traditional autonomic functions (gastrointestinal, renal and cardiovascular)(5). Another study of hypertensive patients associated pomegranate juice consumption with reductions in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure suggesting pomegranate juice may be a beneficial cardioprotective supplement for hypertensive subjects (6).
The unique chemical composition of the pomegranate fruit, rich in antioxidant tannins and flavonoids has drawn the attention of many investigators in the fight against cancer. Pomegranate has been demonstrated to possess antitumor effects on various types of cancer cells. Pomegranate seed extract was found to reduce cell viability in lung non small cell carcinoma, breast adenocarcinoma, ovarian cancer cells, and prostate adenocarcinoma to values below 23%, even at the lowest doses(8). Evidence indicates that the bioactive compounds from pomegranate derivatives are efficacious in interfering with multiple pivotal pathways implicated in different stages of carcinogenesis(8).
1)WebMD. Find a Vitamin or Supplement: POMEGRANATE. 2005-2016. http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-392-pomegranate.aspx?activeingredientid=392&activeingredientname=pomegranate
5)Ferguson AV, Latchford KJ, Samson WK. The Paraventricular Nucleus of the Hypothalamus A Potential Target for Integrative Treatment of Autonomic Dysfunction. Expert opinion on therapeutic targets. 2008;12(6):717-727. doi:10.1517/1472818.104.22.1687. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2682920/
7)González-Trujano ME, Pellicer F, Mena P, Moreno DA, García-Viguera C. Antinociceptive and anti-inflammatory activities of a pomegranate (Punica granatum L.) extract rich in ellagitannins. International journal of food sciences and nutrition. 2015 May 19;66(4):395-9. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Diego_A_Moreno/publication/274262595_Antinociceptive_and_anti-inflammatory_activities_of_a_pomegranate_Punica_granatum_L_extract_rich_in_ellagitannins/links/56587dc908ae1ef9297dca2e.pdf
2)Sohrab G, Nasrollahzadeh J, Zand H, Amiri Z, Tohidi M, Kimiagar M. Effects of pomegranate juice consumption on inflammatory markers in patients with type 2 diabetes: A randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Journal of research in medical sciences: the official journal of Isfahan University of Medical Sciences. 2014 Mar;19(3):215. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4061642/
3)Zhang JM, An J. Cytokines, inflammation and pain. International anesthesiology clinics. 2007;45(2):27. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2785020/
4)Sun W, Yan C, Frost B, Wang X, Hou C, Zeng M, Gao H, Kang Y, Liu J. Pomegranate extract decreases oxidative stress and alleviates mitochondrial impairment by activating AMPK-Nrf2 in hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus of spontaneously hypertensive rats. Scientific Reports. 2016;6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5054377/
Kalita D, Jayanty SS. Comparison of Polyphenol Content and Antioxidant Capacity of Colored Potato Tubers, Pomegranate and Blueberries. Journal of Food Processing & Technology. 2014 Sep 18;2014. http://www.omicsonline.org/open-access/comparison-of-polyphenol-content-and-antioxidant-capacity-of-colored-potato-tubers-pomegranate-and-blueberries-2157-7110.1000358.php?aid=30238
6)Asgary S, Sahebkar A, Afshani MR, Keshvari M, Haghjooyjavanmard S, Rafieian‐Kopaei M. Clinical Evaluation of Blood Pressure Lowering, Endothelial Function Improving, Hypolipidemic and Anti‐Inflammatory Effects of Pomegranate Juice in Hypertensive Subjects. Phytotherapy Research. 2014 Feb 1;28(2):193-9. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Mahtab_Keshvari/publication/236071846_Clinical_Evaluation_of_Blood_Pressure_Lowering_Endothelial_Function_Improving_Hypolipidemic_and_Anti-Inflammatory_Effects_of_Pomegranate_Juice_in_Hypertensive_Subjects/links/0a85e53c77fd156c8a000000.pdf
8)Seidi K, Jahanban-Esfahlan R, Abasi M, Abbasi MM. Anti Tumoral Properties of Punica granatum (Pomegranate) Seed Extract in Different Human Cancer Cells. Asian Pacific journal of cancer prevention: APJCP. 2015 Dec;17(3):1119-22. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Mehran_Mesgari_Abbasi/publication/303129160_Anti_tumoral_properties_of_Punica_granatum_Pomegranate_seed_extract_in_different_human_cancer_cells/links/575901e408ae9a9c954a8045.pdf
N Syed D, Chamcheu JC, M Adhami V, Mukhtar H. Pomegranate extracts and cancer prevention: molecular and cellular activities. Anti-Cancer Agents in Medicinal Chemistry (Formerly Current Medicinal Chemistry-Anti-Cancer Agents). 2013 Oct 1;13(8):1149-61. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4052369/