Cultures around the world have long used the pomegranate in fertility rituals and as a symbol of fecundity.
Pomegranate fruit, roots, bark, flowers and leaves have all been used for medicinal purposes by practitioners of traditional medicine.
In recent years, the pomegranate has also attracted the attention of American scientists and medical researchers. In 2010 alone, studies invesigated the properties of the pomegranate and their potential therapeutic effects on diseases and conditions ranging from prostate cancer, diabetes and lymphoma to atherosclerosis, coronary heart disease, osteoarthritis and infant brain injury. The health benefits conferred by pomegranates reflect its antioxidant properties. Pomegranate juice, some researchers claim, can protect tissue against free radical damage, lower harmful cholesterol and high blood pressure.
One such study now also suggests that pomegranate juice is able to reduce inflammation and infection in kidney dialysis patients.
ScienceDaily [Nov. 18, 2010] reported a study which showed pomegranate juice reduced complications in kidney disease patients on dialysis. The patients taking part in the study who drank pomegranate juice experienced significantly less inflammation and free radical damage than those given a placebo juice. They also had lower blood pressure and healthier hearts, as evidenced by fewer “cardiovascular events”. Since kidney disease patients treated with hemodialysis are prone to cardiac problems and infections, the findings could have important and positive implications for treatment outcomes.
Dr Batya Kristal, of the Western Galilee Hospital in Nahariya, led a team of researchers who studied 101 kidney dialysis patients given either pomegranate juice or a placebo juice three times a week for a year. The quantity of juice was carefully controlled – pomegranates contain relatively high levels of potassium, a mineral which can provoke cardiac problems in patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD).
Of the study’s findings, Dr Kristal commented: “Considering the expected epidemic of CKD in the next decade, further clinical trials using pomegranate juice aimed at reducing the high cardiovascular morbidity of CKD patients and their deterioration to end-stage renal disease should be conducted.”
A paper on the clinical results of the study – One Year of Pomegranate Juice Consumption Decreases Oxidative Stress, Inflammation and Incidence of Infections in Hemodialysis Patients – was in preparation, to be presented at the November 2010 meeting of the American Society of Nephrology in Denver, Colorado.
** It is important to note that medical advice should be sought by CKD patients before drinking pomegranate juice regularly. High potassium intake may pose a particular medical risk to susceptible individuals.**