Why Pomegranate Is The World’s Most Powerful Healing ‘Fruit’
Sayer Ji, Founderof GreenMedInfo
Millions die every year from cancer. Millions more from heart disease. Did you know that pomegranate fruit (technically a berry) may be the ideal drug alternative to preventing and even reversing them both?
I confess I have a bit of an obsession with pomegranate. Ever since performing my literature search on this bright red fruiting ovary of the pomegranate bush, I was awed by the sheer volume of supportive literature on its diverse applications for health promotion and disease prevention.
While I’ve written previously on pomegranate’s 100+ evidence-based health benefits, most of my focus has been on spreading the good news about pomegranate’s unique ability to reverse plaque build up in the arteries; a therapeutic property which could countermand the #1 cause of death in the developed world: namely, atherosclerosis related cardiovascular events such as heart attack. This is all the more amazing when you consider that we live in a world where millions are taking cholesterol-lowering statin drugs which have been demonstrated to weaken the heart muscle, along with causing some 300+ documented adverse health effects. And yet, many of these very same people popping potentially deadly pharmaceuticals, are still afraid of consuming pomegranate juice because of its “high sugar content.”
Pomegranate is also uniquely supported by a folkloric body of cross-culturally overlapping virtues, such as promoting fertility, prosperity, and longevity. Clearly, the logos (science) and mythos (ancient orally transmit wisdom) agree that this a very special food. I consider it right up there with my personal favorite turmeric; a plant root which, I believe, contains both intelligence and compassion.
If you want to see how I came to this apical point of appreciation for pomegranate, you can follow the biomedical footsteps I took to get here by checking out all the studies I have gathered on my pomegranate database here.
In this article, however, I will be focusing on an under appreciated benefit of pomegranate, namely, its powerful anti-cancer properties.
Pomegranate: Nature’s Perfect Anti-Cancer Food
Regular readers of GreenMedInfo.com know that we focus heavily on identifying the true causes and cures for cancer, as well as the still widely underestimated problem of the medical industry’s routine misclassification, overdiagnosis and overtreatment of cancer; a problem, in fact, which was recognized by the National Cancer Institute’s own expert panel in 2013 to apply to two of the most commonly diagnosed forms of cancer in men (HGPIN “prostate cancer”) and women (DCIS “breast cancer”), and which has caused incalculable and needless suffering in millions of men and women in the U.S. over the past 30 years.
The side effect of so much diagnosis and treatment of suspicious “growths” is that cancer has become a multi-billion dollar industry, despite the fact that cancer treatments have made very little progress over the past few decades.
A huge piece of the puzzle as to why conventional treatment has been a monumental failure is revealed by so-called cancer stem cell hypothesis. Basically a small subpopulation of cancer cells called cancer stem cells are believed responsible for producing most primary and secondary tumors, as well as their resistance to conventional chemotherapy and radiation. In fact, these two “therapies” actually enrich cancer stem cells in the surviving post-treatment tissue, making their use obsolete and fundamentally unethical.
Preliminary research has already shown that pomegranate can inhibit and/or destroy a range of cancers, including prostate cancer, breast cancer, colon cancer, and pancreatic cancer. But because the cancer stem cell hypothesis is relatively new, relatively few studies have been performed to assess the ability of natural compounds to kill cancer stem cells.
That said, an important study published in 2010 in Oncology Reports titled, “Pomegranate extract inhibits the proliferation and viability of MMTV-Wnt-1 mouse mammary cancer stem cells in vitro,” revealed that several compounds within pomegranate have the ability to target and destroy the cancer stem cells within mammary cancer. Remember, this is something conventional cancer treatments cannot even do.
The groundbreaking study opened with a brief summary of the cancer stem cell hypothesis, well worth reading:
The stem cell hypothesis of cancer is based on the existence of a subset of cells in tumors with a high proliferative capacity and multipotency, the stem cell-like ability to produce all cell types found in tumors (9). Tumor heterogeneity arises not by the serial clonal expansion of individual cancer cells that have acquired new, advantageous mutations, but from cancer stem cells. The cancer stem cell hypothesis explains the ultimate failure of chemotherapy; tumors destroyed by chemotherapy may be repopulated by cancer stem cells, which are highly drug resistant through a variety of mechanisms (10). As such, successful chemotherapy and cancer prevention must target not only the differentiated tumor cells that make up the bulk of the tumor, but also cancer stem cells, and treatment may have to be long-term, since cancer stem cells are long-lived.”
The study next moved to why foods like pomengranate may be the future of cancer treatment:
A promising source of novel chemopreventive and chemotherapeutic agents are fruits and vegetables, which are associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer (4,14). Phytochemicals derived from fruits and vegetables have a proven ability to inhibit cancer cell growth in vitro and prevent the formation of tumors in vivo (4,6) and are well tolerated and safe, allowing for long-term dietary administration. However, since the cancer stem cell hypothesis has only recently been proposed, there are few studies on the effect of phytochemicals on cancer stem cells (16,17). We hypothesized that phytochemicals inhibit the growth and viability of mammary cancer stem cells. To test this hypothesis, in the present study we used a mammary cancer stem cell line, designated WA4, derived from tumors arising spontaneously in MMTV-Wnt-1 transgenic mice, as an in vitro model of cancer stem cells. Studies have suggested that mammary tumors arising in this model contain a proportion of tumor cells with cancer stem cell-like characteristics (8), and the ß-catenin pathway, which is activated by overexpression of Wnt-1, is important in governing self-renewal of cells, a hallmark of ‘stemness’. The majority of the cells in the WA4 cell line displays many cancer stem-cell like characteristics, as described in Materials and methods. We chose PE as our test agent. PE is a standardized extract of pomegranate that is commercially available as a dietary supplement and is certified ‘generally regarded as safe’ by the Food and Drug Administration. The extract is standardized by HPLC to contain no less than 70% total polyphenolic compounds, and the final polyphenolic composition is similar to that of the pomengranate fruit (12). Pomegranate juice and seed oil have previously been shown to inhibit the proliferation and metastasis of various differentiated human breast cancer cell lines in vitro (11,18,19). Pomegranate extracts have also been shown to inhibit the proliferation of other cancer cell types in vitro, including lung, prostate, colon and oral cancer (7,20-23). However, the current study is, to the best of our knowledge, the first to examine the effect of PE on cancer stem cells.”
The study results were reported as follows:
In summary, the present study demonstrates that PE is a potent inhibitor of mammary cancer stem cells in vitro. This is the first study to examine the potential of a dietary extract to target cancer stem cells. Further study will focus on the effects of PE on the Wnt-1 signaling pathway in WA4 cells and the efficacy of PE against mammary stem cells grown syngeneically in vivo.”
While this was only a cell study, the results are encouraging, as noted by the authors:
“The relatively low concentrations needed to inhibit mammary cancer stem cells in vitro and the demonstrated bioavailability of PE suggest that PE may be an effective inhibitor of mammary tumor growth in vivo, a possibility that is currently being tested in our laboratory.”
The most common criticism against preliminary research like this is that since it has not yet been proven safe and effective in human clinical trials it would be irresponsible, if not illegal, to use it to prevent, mitigate or treat any disease. This criticism, however, belies naivety when it comes to how the biomedical research and publishing industries work, and how the high the funding pay wall is (800 million-11 billion) to perform the phase I, II, II, etc. clinical trials required by the FDA to obtain drug approval. Do we wait, for instance, for these studies to be performed, knowing full well that sufficient private and/or public capital will never manifest, when tens of thousands are dying, annually, from the effects of the highly toxic and ineffective conventional treatments?
No, as informed consumers and/or patients, who are fully aware that foods like pomegranate are not drugs. i.e., they are not comprised of synthetically produced molecules, and that foods like these have thousands of years of safe usage behind them, we have every right to use our “food as medicine.” When you consider that heart disease and cancer are the #1 and #2 causes of death in the developed world, and that a simple fruit extract may profoundly reduce the risk of being seriously harmed, or dying from either, it would seem unethical not to use it, or not to advocate for its use vis-à-vis the potentially horrific side effects of the drugs being used for primary prevention and treatment of these conditions.
This is why I believe pomegranate is the world’s most important healing fruit. Add to this the fact that it actually tastes good, and you have the perfect confluence of reasons to start incorporating it into your daily regimen.