By Tiesha D. Johnson, BSN, RN
Preserving Dental Health
Emerging research suggests that pomegranate holds promise in promoting optimal dental health.
A recent study indicates that pomegranate fights dental plaque, the yellowish buildup of microorganisms on the teeth that can lead to cavities and gum disease. Scientists found that pomegranate extract helped kill microorganisms isolated from the dental plaque of healthy adults. Additionally, rinsing the mouth for one minute with a mouthwash containing pomegranate effectively reduced the amount of microorganisms cultured from dental plaque.33
Thai researchers studying gum disease discovered that pomegranate extracts, when combined with extracts of another traditional herb called gotu kola (Centella asiatica), enhance gum healing following dental scaling and root planing (deep cleaning between the gums and the teeth down to the roots.)34 Such procedures are commonly done to restore the vital connection between the gums and tooth roots, in the absence of which bacterial infection, decay, and tooth loss may occur. By simply implanting tiny chips impregnated with pomegranate and gotu kola extracts into the gap between the gum and tooth root, the scientists were able to reduce the size of the gap and increase gum and tooth attachment.34 A later study by the same group35 showed that treated patients also had less gum bleeding and considerably lower levels of interleukin-1 beta and interleukin-6, two inflammatory cytokines linked to cardiovascular disease.36,37
Maintaining optimal dental health is not only important for preserving the appearance and function of the teeth, but also for protecting against cardiovascular disease. Scientists now know that the chronic inflammation from periodontal disease is closely tied to the worsening of cardiovascular diseases.38,39
Protecting Skin Health
New evidence suggests that pomegranate extracts may protect skin against two important factors that degrade its health and appearance over time: accumulating damage inflicted by ultraviolet light, and a decreased ability to regenerate or heal.
Excessive exposure to ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation has numerous adverse health effects on skin, including redness, hyperpigmentation, immune suppression, and photoaging. Research shows that pomegranate extracts protect human skin cells against UVB-induced changes by modulating the biochemical pathways that can provoke cancer and inflammation.28
Pomegranate also protects against ultraviolet A (UVA) radiation, or the damaging, long-wave rays that penetrate deeply into the skin to promote wrinkles and both benign and malignant tumors. This is an important finding, as many commercially available sunscreens offer only limited UVA protection. When human skin cells were incubated with pomegranate extracts, they were better able to withstand UVA-induced damage. Scientists believe that pomegranate modulates cellular pathways to confer protection against ultraviolet rays.40
As skin ages, it often becomes thinner and slower to heal. A promising new study demonstrates that pomegranate extracts may help avert age-related changes in the skin.41 Investigators applied various pomegranate constituents to skin cells derived from the epidermis (outermost layer) and dermis (layer underneath the epidermis). Pomegranate seed oil extract promoted regeneration and thickening of the skin’s epidermis, while an extract of the peel promoted repair of the dermis. Pomegranate extracts may thus help promote healing and regeneration of skin tissues.41
Ensuring Liver Health
As one of the body’s most metabolically active organs, the liver is responsible for breaking down and rendering harmless a multitude of chemicals, toxins, drugs, and hormones. Performing this daily task requires a prodigious amount of antioxidants, and new findings suggest that pomegranate is a rich source of liver-protective antioxidants.
In the laboratory, pomegranate extract effectively quenched a variety of dangerous reactive oxygen species, including superoxide, hydrogen peroxide, and hydroxyl radicals. When mice were given pomegranate before exposure to an oxidative stressor that normally causes liver toxicity, they were significantly protected and maintained high levels of crucial liver antioxidants. Pomegranate extract helped protect the animals against pathological changes that accompany liver damage, such as degeneration, fatty changes, and necrosis (tissue death).42 Pomegranate extract thus confers everyday benefits for liver health.
Pomegranate is one of nature’s richest sources of antioxidants. Accumulating research offers ample evidence that routine supplementation with pomegranate juice or extract may protect and even improve cardiovascular function. Pomegranate also appears to counter the deleterious effects of diabetes and metabolic syndrome, and may even help to prevent and arrest the development of certain cancers. Exciting new research findings suggest that pomegranate likewise fights the inflammatory processes involved in Alzheimer’s disease, osteoarthritis, and gum disease, while protecting the health of the skin and the liver.
Utilizing concentrated, low-cost pomegranate juice or standardized pomegranate extract capsules offers consumers a way to reap the broad-spectrum health benefits of this exotic fruit, while avoiding the excessive sugar calories and high cost associated with commercial pomegranate juice products.
1. Xu S, Touyz RM. Reactive oxygen species and vascular remodelling in hypertension: still alive. Can J Cardiol. 2006 Sep;22(11):947-51.
2. Ignarro LJ, Byrns RE, Sumi D, de NF, Napoli C. Pomegranate juice protects nitric oxide against oxidative destruction and enhances the biological actions of nitric oxide. Nitric Oxide. 2006 Sep;15(2):93-102.
3. Ignarro LJ, Napoli C. Novel features of nitric oxide, endothelial nitric oxide synthase, and atherosclerosis. Curr Atheroscler Rep. 2004 Jul;6(4):281-7.
4. de Nigris F, Williams-Ignarro S, Botti C, et al. Pomegranate juice reduces oxidized low-density lipoprotein downregulation of endothelial nitric oxide synthase in human coronary endothelial cells. Nitric Oxide. 2006 Nov;15(3):259-63.
5. de Nigris F, Williams-Ignarro S, Sica V, et al. Effects of a pomegranate fruit extract rich in punicalagin on oxidation-sensitive genes and eNOS activity at sites of perturbed shear stress and atherogenesis. Cardiovasc Res. 2007 Jan 15;73(2):414-23.
6. de Nigris F, Williams-Ignarro S, Lerman LO, et al. Beneficial effects of pomegranate juice on oxidation-sensitive genes and endothelial nitric oxide synthase activity at sites of perturbed shear stress. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2005 Mar 29;102(13):4896-901.
7. Aviram M, Rosenblat M, Gaitini D, et al. Pomegranate juice consumption for 3 years by patients with carotid artery stenosis reduces common carotid intima-media thickness, blood pressure and LDL oxidation. Clin Nutr. 2004 Jun;23(3):423-33.
8. Aviram M, Dornfeld L. Pomegranate juice consumption inhibits serum angiotensin converting enzyme activity and reduces systolic blood pressure. Atherosclerosis. 2001 Sep;158(1):195-8.
9. Sumner MD, Elliott-Eller M, Weidner G, et al. Effects of pomegranate juice consumption on myocardial perfusion in patients with coronary heart disease. Am J Cardiol. 2005 Sep 15;96(6):810-4.
10. Li Y, Wen S, Kota BP, et al. Punica granatum flower extract, a potent alpha-glucosidase inhibitor, improves postprandial hyperglycemia in Zucker diabetic fatty rats. J Ethnopharmacol. 2005 Jun 3;99(2):239-44.
11. Huang TH, Yang Q, Harada M, et al. Pomegranate flower extract diminishes cardiac fibrosis in Zucker diabetic fatty rats: modulation of cardiac endothelin-1 and nuclear factor-kappaB pathways. J Cardiovasc Pharmacol. 2005 Dec;46(6):856-62.
12. Huang TH, Peng G, Kota BP, et al. Pomegranate flower improves cardiac lipid metabolism in a diabetic rat model: role of lowering circulating lipids. Br J Pharmacol. 2005 Jul;145(6):767-74.
13. Rozenberg O, Howell A, Aviram M. Pomegranate juice sugar fraction reduces macrophage oxidative state, whereas white grape juice sugar fraction increases it. Atherosclerosis. 2006 Sep;188(1):68-76.
14. Rosenblat M, Hayek T, Aviram M. Anti-oxidative effects of pomegranate juice (PJ) consumption by diabetic patients on serum and on macrophages. Atherosclerosis. 2006 Aug;187(2):363-71.
15. Esmaillzadeh A, Tahbaz F, Gaieni I, avi-Majd H, Azadbakht L. Concentrated pomegranate juice improves lipid profiles in diabetic patients with hyperlipidemia. J Med Food. 2004;7(3):305-8.
16. Arlen PM, Dahut WL, Gulley JL. Immunotherapy for prostate cancer: what’s the future? Hematol Oncol Clin North Am. 2006 Aug;20(4):965-83.
17. Adhami VM, Mukhtar H. Polyphenols from green tea and pomegranate for prevention of prostate cancer. Free Radic Res. 2006 Oct;40(10):1095-104.
18. Chan JM, Feraco A, Shuman M, Hernandez-Diaz S. The epidemiology of prostate cancer—with a focus on nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Hematol Oncol Clin North Am. 2006 Aug;20(4):797-809.
19. Krysiak R, Okopien B, Szkrobka W, Herman ZS. Prostate cancer chemoprevention. Przegl Lek. 2005;62(9):929-33.
20. Lansky EP, Harrison G, Froom P, Jiang WG. Pomegranate (Punica granatum) pure chemicals show possible synergistic inhibition of human PC-3 prostate cancer cell invasion across Matrigel. Invest New Drugs. 2005 Mar;23(2):121-2.
21. Lansky EP, Jiang W, Mo H, et al. Possible synergistic prostate cancer suppression by anatomically discrete pomegranate fractions. Invest New Drugs. 2005 Jan;23(1):11-20.
22. Seeram NP, Adams LS, Henning SM, et al. In vitro antiproliferative, apoptotic and antioxidant activities of punicalagin, ellagic acid and a total pomegranate tannin extract are enhanced in combination with other polyphenols as found in pomegranate juice. J Nutr Biochem. 2005 Jun;16(6):360-7.
23. Malik A, Afaq F, Sarfaraz S, et al. Pomegranate fruit juice for chemoprevention and chemotherapy of prostate cancer. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2005 Oct 11;102(41):14813-8.
24. Malik A, Mukhtar H. Prostate cancer prevention through pomegranate fruit. Cell Cycle. 2006 Feb;5(4):371-3.
25. Albrecht M, Jiang W, Kumi-Diaka J, et al. Pomegranate extracts potently suppress proliferation, xenograft growth, and invasion of human prostate cancer cells. J Med Food. 2004;7(3):274-83.
26. Pantuck AJ, Leppert JT, Zomorodian N, et al. Phase II study of pomegranate juice for men with rising prostate-specific antigen following surgery or radiation for prostate cancer. Clin Cancer Res. 2006 Jul 1;12(13):4018-26.
27. Piechota G, Malkiewicz J, Karwat ID. Obesity as a cause and result of disability. Przegl Epidemiol. 2005;59(1):155-61.
28. Afaq F, Malik A, Syed D, et al. Pomegranate fruit extract modulates UV-B-mediated phosphorylation of mitogen-activated protein kinases and activation of nuclear factor kappa B in normal human epidermal keratinocytes paragraph sign. Photochem Photobiol. 2005 Jan;81(1):38-45.
29. Ahmed S, Wang N, Hafeez BB, Cheruvu VK, Haqqi TM. Punica granatum L. extract inhibits IL-1beta-induced expression of matrix metalloproteinases by inhibiting the activation of MAP kinases and NF-kappaB in human chondrocytes in vitro. J Nutr. 2005 Sep;135(9):2096-102.
30. Hartman RE, Shah A, Fagan AM, et al. Pomegranate juice decreases amyloid load and improves behavior in a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease. Neurobiol Dis. 2006 Dec;24(3):506-15.
31. Dai Q, Borenstein AR, Wu Y, Jackson JC, Larson EB. Fruit and vegetable juices and Alzheimer’s disease: the Kame Project. Am J Med. 2006 Sep;119(9):751-9.
32. Loren DJ, Seeram NP, Schulman RN, Holtzman DM. Maternal dietary supplementation with pomegranate juice is neuroprotective in an animal model of neonatal hypoxic-ischemic brain injury. Pediatr Res. 2005 Jun;57(6):858-64.
33. Menezes SM, Cordeiro LN, Viana GS. Punica granatum (pomegranate) extract is active against dental plaque. J Herb Pharmacother. 2006;6(2):79-92.
34. Sastravaha G, Yotnuengnit P, Booncong P, Sangtherapitikul P. Adjunctive periodontal treatment with Centella asiatica and Punica granatum extracts. A preliminary study. J Int Acad Periodontol. 2003 Oct;5(4):106-15.
35. Sastravaha G, Gassmann G, Sangtherapitikul P, Grimm WD. Adjunctive periodontal treatment with Centella asiatica and Punica granatum extracts in supportive periodontal therapy. J Int Acad Periodontol. 2005 Jul;7(3):70-9.
36. Dellegrottaglie S, Sanz J, Rajagopalan S. Molecular determinants of vascular calcification: a bench to bedside view. Curr Mol Med. 2006 Aug;6(5):515-24.
37. Terrell AM, Crisostomo PR, Wairiuko GM, et al. Jak/STAT/SOCS signaling circuits and associated cytokine-mediated inflammation and hypertrophy in the heart. Shock. 2006 Sep;26(3):226-34.
38. Dumitrescu AL. Influence of periodontal disease on cardiovascular diseases. Rom J Intern Med. 2005;43(1-2):9-21.
39. Mattila KJ, Pussinen PJ, Paju S. Dental infections and cardiovascular diseases: a review. J Periodontol. 2005 Nov;76(11 Suppl):2085-8.
40. Syed DN, Malik A, Hadi N, Sarfaraz S, Afaq F, Mukhtar H. Photochemopreventive effect of pomegranate fruit extract on UVA-mediated activation of cellular pathways in normal human epidermal keratinocytes. Photochem Photobiol. 2006 Mar-Apr;82(2):398-405.
41. Aslam MN, Lansky EP, Varani J. Pomegranate as a cosmeceutical source: pomegranate fractions promote proliferation and procollagen synthesis and inhibit matrix metalloproteinase-1 production in human skin cells. J Ethnopharmacol. 2006 Feb 20;103(3):311-8.
42. Kaur G, Jabbar Z, Athar M, Alam MS. Punica granatum (pomegranate) flower extract possesses potent antioxidant activity and abrogates Fe-NTA induced hepatotoxicity in mice. Food Chem Toxicol. 2006 Jul;44(7):984-93.
43. Sorokin AV, Duncan B, Panetta R, Thompson PD. Rhabdomyolysis associated with pomegranate juice consumption. Am J Cardiol. 2006 Sep 1;98(5):705-6.
44. Kim H, Yoon YJ, Shon JH, Cha IJ, Shin JG, Liu KH. Inhibitory effects of fruit juices on CYP3A activity. Drug Metab Dispos. 2006 Apr;34(4):521-3.
45. Cerda B, Llorach R, Ceron JJ, Espin JC, Tomas-Barberan FA. Evaluation of the bioavailability and metabolism in the rat of punicalagin, an antioxidant polyphenol from pomegranate juice. Eur J Nutr. 2003 Jan;42(1):18-28.
46. Gil MI, Tomas-Barberan FA, Hess-Pierce B, Holcroft DM, Kader AA. Antioxidant activity of pomegranate juice and its relationship with phenolic composition and processing. J Agric Food Chem. 2000 Oct;48(10):4581-9.