Saturday, April 21, 2012

Could Pomegranates be the Solution to Balancing Hormones at Any Age?

Pomegranates - More Than Just Antioxidant Rich!
I know I've mentioned before that I truly love it when current medical research discovers health benefits of foods, herbs and spices that have been used in traditional healing practices for centuries.  This collision of science, ancient wisdom and spirituality fascinates me.

Recently I came across thus great article on one of my favorite fruits - the pomegranate.  Combine it with  the info I heard on Dr. Oz yesterday about these gems of the fruit world, and they just may be a perfect solution for hormonal imbalances at any age . . .

Yesterday's Dr. Oz show explored the ancient Tibetan forms of healing, including the 7 chakras.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with this system, it is believed that there are 7 energy wheels in the body that must be in balance to achieve optimal health.  

According to this theory, the root chakra, located at the base of the base of the spine or coccyx is the energy center responsible for our vigor, survival, security, passion and sense of self.   The color associated with the root chakra is red.

Interestingly enough the organs this energy center is associated with are the large intestine and organs of reproduction.

In this system of healing, deep red foods are energetically supportive of the chakra. Traditionally, one of the favorite foods to balance this chakra are pomegranates!

Is this a case of coincidence or ancient wisdom?

Modern women at midlife have many options when it comes to dealing with those nasty menopausal symptoms like mood swings, depression, bone loss, and fluctuating estrogen levels.  But their most surprising source of natural relief may come from an ancient food:  the juicy pomegranate.
Pomegranates have been cultivated for over 4,000 years.  Our word pomegranate dates back to around 750 B.C. and comes from the Latin "Punicum malum" meaning "Phoenician apple."  Today the fruit is often called a "Chinese apple."
Despite its frequent comparison to an apple, the pomegranate bears a striking resemblance to the female ovary.  It is not too surprising, then, that it served as a symbol of fertility for the Zoroastrians and other ancient cultures.
Fruits in general are defined as "the developed ovary of a seed plant" but in the case of the pomegranate fruit, the physical resemblance to a human female ovary is striking.  Looking at a cross section of each reveals how similar are the containers for the pomegranate’s seeds and the ovary’s eggs. 
But the pomegranate’s resemblance to the female ovary goes beyond its physical similarities.  The fruit also provides the same estrogens as the female ovary – estradiol, estrone and estriol.
What does this mean for a menopausal woman?  It may very well mean relief from depressive moods and a lower risk of osteoporosis, breast cancer and heart disease.

Bone Loss Reversed

In a 2004 study in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, rats who had their ovaries removed suffered accelerated bone loss, a typical symptom of menopause.  When they were fed an extract of pomegranate juice and seeds for just 2 weeks, however, their bone mineral loss reverted to normal rates.

Mood Improvement

The same Japanese researchers in the 2004 study also found that the rats given pomegranate extract measured lower levels of depression indicators.  Based on their results the authors found it conceivable that pomegranate would be clinically effective for women exhibiting a depressive state.

Heart Health

The rate of death from coronary heart disease in women after menopause is 2 to 3 times that of women the same age before menopause. Here again, pomegranates provide proven healing benefits:
  • Lowers Cholesterol - A 2000 study found that pomegranate juice is rich in antioxidants which prevent LDL (bad) cholesterol from oxidizing and leading to atherosclerosis.
  • Lower blood pressure - A small 2004 clinical study by Israeli researchers concluded that drinking one glass a day of pomegranate juice may lower blood pressure, reduced cholesterol oxidation, and reversed the plaque buildup in their carotid arteries by up to 29%.
  • Blood clotting – One study in the Journal of Medicinal Foods showed that pomegranate juice slows down platelet aggregation and thins blood, preventing clotting.
  • Improves coronary heart disease – Several different studies have found that cardiovascular health is improved with the use of pomegranate juice since it reduces plaque, increases nitric oxide, and may prevent plaque from building in the arteries in some patients.
  • Increases oxygen flow - A 2007 study showed that drinking eight ounces of pomegranate juice daily for three months increased oxygen flow to the heart muscle in coronary patients.
Breast Cancer
Lab studies have shown pomegranate anthocyanidins (sugarless plant pigments), flavonoids, and oils exert anticancer effects against breast tumors.
Although some women worry that foods with estrogenic properties may increase the risk of breast cancer, that isn’t the case.  In fact, pomegranate is a natural adaptogen, increasing levels of estrogen when the body is low but blocking stronger estrogens when levels are too high.  This innate intelligence to adapt its function to the body’s needs is an incredible benefit that natural foods have over pharmaceuticals. 
In fact, pomegranate extract was compared to the drugs Tamoxifen and Estradiol in a 2011 study in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry.  The researchers suggested that the pomegranate extract may potentially prevent estrogen dependent breast cancers.

How do pomegranates work their magic?

An 8 ounce glass of pomegranate juice contains about 40% of the RDA of vitamin C, and also is rich in vitamins A and E and folic acid.
The pomegranate fruit contains antioxidants called phytochemicals, which protect plants from harmful elements in the environment. These same phytochemicals when ingested protect the cells in our body.  The juice has been found to contain higher levels of antioxidants than most other fruit juices, including cranberry or blueberry, and more even than red wine or green tea.
Drink the juice or eat the seeds (yes, they are edible) to reap the benefits of this menopause miracle.
For additional information on the healing properties of pomegranate, visit GreenMedInfo's extensive pomegranate resource page which lists over 80 researched health conditions.

Source: GreenMedInfo, "Amazing Fact: Pomegranate Can Serve As A Backup Ovary"

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of GreenMedInfo or its staff.

Now for yet another twist, here's some info I found on this lovely fruit in Harvard Men's Health Watch article . . .

BOSTON — Few American men have heard of the pomegranate, and fewer still have eaten this curious-looking fruit loaded with red seeds. But new scientific findings suggest that pomegranates may one day find a place in healthful diets, reports the April 2007 issue of Harvard Men’s Health Watch.

Two recent studies suggest that pomegranate juice may help fight prostate cancer. In one study, scientists grew cells from highly aggressive cases of human prostate cancer in tissue cultures. Pomegranate fruit extracts slowed the growth of the cultured cancer cells and promoted cell death. The researchers then implanted the cancer cells in mice. A group of mice that received water laced with pomegranate juice developed significantly smaller tumors than the untreated animals. In a preliminary study of men with prostate cancer, pomegranate juice lengthened patients’ PSA doubling time (the longer the doubling time, the slower the tumor is growing) from 15 months before treatment to 54 months on the juice.

Like I said, I'm always so happy and amazed when current medical science and ancient healing traditions find common ground!

I think this has inspired me to create some new recipes . . .

Dr. P


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