Plants & Herbs: Punica granatum – Relevance to Human Life

One of the oldest known fruits, found in writings and artifacts of many cultures and religions, is the “pomegranate”, Punica granatum, which originates from Persia.

This nutrient dense, antioxidant rich fruit has been revered as a symbol of health, fertility and eternal life. It belongs to the Lythraceae family and is a deciduous shrub or small tree, growing to 5-8m in height. The leaves are opposite or sub-opposite, glossy, narrow, oblong, entire, 3-7cm long and 2cm broad. The flowers are bright red, with five petals each.

The fruit is red with a tough outer layer; only the juice and the seeds inside are edible. This wonder plant has been used for thousands of years to cure a wide range of diseases across different cultures and civilizations. It has great nutritional values and numerous health benefits as outlined below. Pomegranate has been used in natural and holistic medicine to treat sore throats, coughs, urinary infections, digestive disorders, skin disorders, arthritis, and to expel tapeworms.

Pomegranates can be used in our diet to prevent heart disease, heart attacks and strokes. This is because pomegranates have the potential to thin the blood, increase blood flow to the heart, reduce blood pressure, reduce plaque in the arteries, and reduce bad cholesterol while increasing good cholesterol. Frequent intake of pomegranate juice can maintain good flow of the blood in the body hence decreasing the risk of heart attack and heart strokes.

A decoction of seeds of pomegranates is used to treat syphilis and the Juice used to treat jaundice and diarrhea. Pomegranates flower juice extract is used to treat nose bleeds and dried, pulverized flower buds are employed as a remedy for bronchitis.

The fruit and the bark of pomegranate tree are used as a traditional remedy against diarrhea, dysentery and intestinal parasites. Pomegranate has been used in the treatment and management of diseases such as diabetes, dental conditions, erectile dysfunction, bacterial infections and antibiotic resistance.

Pomegranate is well known for it’s antioxidant properties. It helps in preventing the formation of skin cancer cells by reducing the frequency of lesions and it also provides relief from minor skin irritations, such as dry skin, eczema and psoriasis. Pomegranates peel; bark and leaves are used to calm the stomach disorder or diarrhea triggered due to any kind of digestive problems. Drinking tea made from the leaves of this fruit helps in curing digestive problems.

The fruit is a rich source of vitamins and is particularly high in vitamin A, C E and folic acid. It also helps to strengthen the normal human defense mechanism and prevents the occurrence of certain types of cancer. This is mainly because of the fact that the fruit contains high amounts of antioxidants called flavonoids, which are believed to counteract the actions of cancer-causing radicals and thereby promote good health.

Another major health benefit of pomegranate is that it helps to prevent and control anemic conditions like weakness, dizziness, fatigue and hair loss, as it provides support to the blood by supplying it with iron.

The fruit pulp and seeds of pomegranate are stomachic. It also helps to cure conditions like diabetes, osteoarthritis and atherosclerosis.

Curing skin inflammation and similar type of skin conditions is yet another beneficial effect of consuming pomegranate on a regular basis.

The fruit is a good source of antioxidant vitamin-C which is very important for the body to develop resistance against infectious agents by boosting immunity. Pomegranate fruit juice prevents the formation of Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol, through its antioxidant properties and hence, helps in the clearance of blood clots in the arteries.

With pomegranate fruit, one can prevent and manage a number of health conditions and hence planting of this fruit tree in your backyard is pertinent. Despite the beneficial effects of Punica granatum, we should also be aware of the toxic effects when the herb is not used in the recommended fashion or at the recommended dose. Only use the herbal material if you are 100% sure that it is really the plant in question.

– Richard Komakech

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