Medium 9781591202103

Pomegranate: The Most Medicianl Fruit

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Gives specific advice on how consumers can get the most comprehensive results from this complex fruit.

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1. A Wealth of Phytochemicals

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ategorized as a berry, the pomegranate is a handsome fruit. It holds many small fruitsor arilswrapped tightly inside a leathery, red rind.

Unlike other plants, the pomegranate belongs to its own botanical familyPunicaceaewith only one genusPunicaand one predominant speciesP. granatum. A second species of Punica does exist, a smaller and more primitive version of the tree. Unfortunately, this rare type occurs only on the isolated island of Socotra, off the cost of Yemen. Like the Galapagos, Socotra is home to many species which exist only on these islands.

POMEGRANATE

Order: Myrtales

Genus: Punica

Family: Punicaceae

Species: P. granatum

The Whole Plant

The pomegranate tree is long-lived, with some European trees living over 200 years though fruit production declines after about fifteen years. The trees are rounded and shrub-like, yet can grow to thirty feet in height; they do not usually grow beyond twelve to sixteen feet. Dwarf varieties are available. The trees bark is reddish-brown when the plant is young and later matures to a grayish tone. Depending on where the tree grows, it may retain or lose its glossy, thick, narrow, and pointed leaves seasonally. Fruit may be produced within a few months of planting, or it may not appear for up to three years. Hot temperature during the fruiting period yields the sweetest fruits.

 

2. A Pleitrope by Any Other Name

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leiotrope refers to any product affecting multiple changes. We use the word here in the sense of a medicine that affects multiple phyisiological improvements. (In medicine, pleiotrope generally refers to a genetic change which affects a wide range of physiological alterations.)

Since Ayurveda of India, one of the oldest medical systems, considers the pomegranate to be a pharmacy unto itself, pleiotrope is a suitable word to apply to the pomegranate. According to Ayurvedic medicine, the juice is a powerful aid in lowering fevers, its bright red color reflecting its reputation as a blood tonic. In ancient Greek medicine, pomegranate flowers were regarded as a treatment for diabetes. Even the roots and bark of the tree were used to treat infections caused by worms and related parasites. The leather-like peels of the fruits are boiled by folk healers around the world into tannin-rich potions used to staunch bleeding, check dysentery, and heal ulcers.

By the sixteenth century, the Royal College of Medicine in Great Britain had already assigned the pomegranate a spot in its coat of arms. This fruits medicinal value has been appreciated as far back as ancient Greece, during which timeagain, according to Langleys articlefamed physician Dioscorides wrote: All sorts of pomegranates are of a pleasant taste and good for your stomach . . . the juice of the kernels pressed out, being . . . mixed with honey, are good for the ulcers that are in your mouth and in your genitals . . . also for . . . ulcers, pains of the ears, and for . . . griefs in the nostrils . . . decoction of the flowers [helps] moist flagging gums and loose teeth . . . the rind having a binding faculty . . . decoction of the roots doth expel and kill [parasites]. Although knowledge about the pomegranate is more scientific today, Dioscorides was unquestionably right about many of pomegranates healing effects.

 

3. Women’s Health

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ome Biblical scholars insist that the fruit from which Eve took the first forbidden bite was not the apple, but the pomegranate. While the forbidden fruit has symbolized the source of human troubles, today the lovely pomegranate is recognized as a source of numerous benefits specific to women.

Recent research suggests that the pomegranate, rich in flavonoids, may be effective at treating and possibly preventing breast cancer. Moreover, this fruit may help with the depression and bone loss associated with menopause. Phytoestrogens from pomegranate seeds have been shown to reduce some of the symptoms of menopause through gentle, mild stimulation of estrogen receptorshormone receptors that, following menopause, lose effectiveness.

Pomegranate Phytoestrogens

Pomegranate seeds, the white interior of the juicy arils, are 18 percent oil. Once that oil is extracted, seed cake remains. Seed cake contains bioactive plant chemicals, including lignins and polysaccharides, from which the cell walls of the seeds are built. It is the main repository of the plants phytoestrogenic compounds. Lignans are phytoestrogenic (estrogen-like compounds found in certain plant foods) and appear to have cancer-preventive properties, particularly in women. These compounds may also reduce the risk of osteoporosis.

 

4. Men’s Health

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eve established that the pomegranate has much to offer women and, as so often turns out, whats good for the goose is sauce for the gander. Men can also turn to the pomegranate for help with gender-specific conditions.

Awareness of male prostate health is at an all-time high, thanks to numerous high-profile males speaking openly about their prostate conditions. Erectile dysfunction, once a private and discreet discussion between a man and his doctor, has now become a high-profile item on the American advertising agenda, due in no small part to a new fascination with pharmaceuticals touted for countering this condition. Yet, the appeal of such items has been perennial; aphrodisiacs and performance enhancers being both ancient and universal.

Nowadays, studies show that pomegranate juice can slow the progression of prostate cancer, and its potent, anti-inflammatory antioxidants aid in preventing or relieving symptoms of an enlarged prostate. Furthermore, the fruit also has been shown to improve penile blood flow and erectile response.

 

5. Your Heart Will Love Pomegranates

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. . . Pomegranate . . . if cut deep down the middle, shows a heart within blood-tinctured, of a veined humanity.

ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING, LADY GERALDINES COURTSHIP

To the ancient Chinese alchemists, the pomegranates blood-red color was a sign of immortality. The Doctrine of Signatures suggests that the pomegranates color, shape, and size are a hint from Mother Nature that this food is good for the heart.

Studies show that just two ounces of pomegranate juice daily can help preserve the health of the cardiovascular system, which includes the heart itself and the many arteries that feed its muscular walls. Considering the prevalence of heart disease in America, this is good news. Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death in both men and women in the United States and most of the world.

CVD is not a single disease, but rather a group of interrelated conditions that affect the heart, blood vessels, and blood cells. A heart attack or occlusive stroke (where a clot or other blockage cuts off blood supply to a part of the brain) is the culmination of many years of small shifts in the health of the cardiovascular systems many parts. Early intervention in the development of cardiovascular disease with dietary changes that have been conclusively shown to preserve cardiovascular health is part of a solid strategy for prevention.

 

6. The Pomegranate Diet

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ver one billion adults across the globe are overweight. Some 300 million of those adults are obese. Both overweight and obesity are concerns that go far beyond any issue of fashion or beauty, as both increase the risk of certain cancers, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, strokes, and type 2 diabetes.

Before delving into the uses of pomegranate in the quest for slimming, it might be helpful to clarify the definitions of overweight and obesity. A measurement called the Body Mass Index (BMI) is most commonly used to determine whether a person is incurring increased health risk due to his or her weight. To figure out your BMI, divide your weight in pounds by your height in inches squared, then multiply by 703:

Lets say you weigh 160 pounds and youre 58 inches tall. First, multiply 58 times 58 to get 3,364. Then, divide 160 by 3,364 to get 0.0476, and then multiply that number by 703 to get 33.5. That number is your BMI.

If your BMI is 18.5 or less, consider yourself underweight; if it is between 18.5 and 24.9, your weight is well within normal, healthy ranges. At a BMI between 25 and 29.9, you are considered overweight; 30 to 39.9, obese; 40 or greater, extremely obese. Beyond a BMI of 25, your body begins to undergo changes that predispose you to disease and premature agingand these processes are linked to overweight and obesity by those important common denominators, inflammation and oxidation.

 

7. The Most Beautiful Fruit

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hen it comes to exterior beauty, studies indicate that pomegranate extracts have much to offer your epidermisthe outer layer of the skinother than its ruby juice turning your hands red. These days, pomegranate is a key ingredient in skincare and bath products. The oil from pomegranate seeds may help prevent signs of wrinkling. Pomegranate seed oil has the potential to facilitate skin repair by promoting regeneration of the outer skin layers. Topical application of products containing pomegranate has been effective in preventing sun damage. Recent studies also indicate that pomegranate extract inhibits the growth of skin tumors.

Anti-Aging Help

Though the quest for eternal youth is an ancient pastime, the demand for anti-aging products and medical treatments applied for the purpose of turning back the clock on the skin-aging process has gained momentum in the past couple of decades. Americans spend more than $12 billion each year on cosmetics and skincare products to hide or prevent the signs of aging.

 

8. Today’s Best Pomegranate Products and Supplements

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he pomegranateconsidered an exotic fruit not too long agohas indeed gone mainstream, popping up in juices, dressings, martinis, Frappuccinos, extracts, nutritional supplements, body lotions, and delectable dishes. Its long history of medicinal use, its many mentions in religious and spiritual texts, and a growing body of scientific research all collude to illuminate its role in promoting better health.

Now youve seen how this fruits distinct qualities, phytochemicals, and phytohormones help your metabolic and endocrine systems to normalize. Its antioxidants seem to alleviate some of the less exhilarating changes through which aging exteriors often go. Women are finding the pomegranate useful for menopausal complaints and for the prevention of breast cancer. Men are turning to the fruit for help in their quest for better prostate health and natural function. And those concerned with their heart health are discovering that the pomegranate shows promise against cardiovascular ailments. So, why and how is this popular fruit so effective for many conditions affecting men and women, young and old?

 

9. Pomegranate as a Source of Beneficial Compounds

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n the preceding pages, we have cited many examples of the use of fresh pomegranates, their juice, their seed oil, and specific synergistically prepared nutritional supplements for benefiting a wide range of health conditions. Still, though these applications may improve general health or ameliorate particular health problems, their use is not strictly medical. In other words, the fruit or its extracts are not used as pharmaceutical drugs, or medicines.

The vast field of nutritional supplements has risen up, in part, to help bridge the gap between food and medicines. Yet, for treating extreme medical problems, most physicians and perhaps even their patients, still prefer to utilize prescription drugs or pharmaceuticals, and this is not likely to change.

For all their status, pharmaceutical products are fraught with many disadvantages, largely owing to the deficiencies of pure chemicals compared to complex natural products. The pure chemicals generally lack the synergistic benefits and pleiotropic effects of the complex products. But because they are much easier to standardize for research purposes and to evaluate in the laboratory, pure chemicals are preferred by most medical professionals for the treatment or prevention of disease.

 

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