Habitat & Cultivation : Indigenous to southwestern Asia, the pomegranate has successfully naturalized in Europe. This tree is extensively cultivated for its fruit, harvested in the ripe stage during autumn. Additionally, the bark is collected in the autumn season.
Parts Used : Juice, fruit pulp, rind, bark.
Constituents : The fruit and juice contain pelletierene alkaloids, elligatannins (up to 25%) and triterpenoids. The alkaloids are highly toxic.
History & Folklore : Around 1500 BCE, the pharaoh Tuthmosis is said to have brought the pomegranate to Egypt from Asia. Esteemed both as a fruit and a remedy for worms, it gained recognition for its medicinal properties. In the 1st century CE, the Greek physician Dioscorides acknowledged the herb’s efficacy in expelling worms. However, this knowledge was forgotten in Europe for nearly 1,800 years. It wasn’t until the early 19th century that English doctors in India became intrigued by pomegranate’s medicinal potential, spurred by the successful use of the fruit by an Indian herbalist in curing an Englishman of tapeworms. Subsequently, investigations into the medicinal properties of pomegranate were initiated.
Medicinal Actions & Uses : Until recently, the primary medicinal application of pomegranate was as a deworming agent, specifically with the rind and bark being regarded as targeted remedies for tapeworm infestations. In contemporary times, pomegranate juice has gained widespread availability and recognition for its positive effects on heart health and circulation. Similar to other medicinal plants rich in anthocyanidins, pomegranate fruit and juice exhibit potent protective activity across various aspects of circulation, promoting healthy blood flow and mitigating local inflammatory processes that can harm the inner lining of blood vessels. The juice is commonly consumed to aid with cardiovascular issues, including high blood pressure, capillary fragility, angina, and congestive heart failure. Additionally, it appears to contribute to the prevention of dental plaque.
Research : In recent years, there has been significant interest in the medicinal properties of pomegranate fruit and juice. As above, pomegranate has a strongly beneficial activity on the cardio-vascular system but it also appears to have an unusually wide range of potential therapeutic properties, including antibacterial, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and ostrogenic activity. James A. Duke, an American herb scientist, has described it as an “anti-menopausal fruit”. Pomegranate shows signs of having anti-cancer activity and has been recommended as a preventative and treatment for prostate cancer. New potential uses are likely to emerge over time.