The People's Perspective on Medicine

Pomegranate Power Enhances Mitochondria and Cell Health

Could compounds created in your body from pomegranate have anti-aging properties? Swiss scientists think so. Pomegranate power goes back thousands of years!

The ancient Chinese believed that Pomegranates had anti-aging properties. They might have been right. Swiss scientists have identified a metabolite of compounds found in pomegranates. It is called urolithin A (UA) and it appears to improve mitochondrial function. Mitochondria are the energy factories of cells. Enhancing the health of your mitochondria is a noble enterprise. The Swiss research suggests that pomegranate power is real. Urolithin A may improve muscle health and have some anti-aging activity, just as the ancient Chinese predicted.

Pomegranate Power Through the Ages:

Pomegranates have a fascinating history. There is a suggestion that there might have been a pomegranate tree in the Garden of Eden. The fruit is mentioned in many ancient religious texts. It also plays an important role in Greek mythology.

Persephone was the daughter of Demeter, the harvest goddess. Hades, a really bad dude and lord of the underworld, kidnapped Persephone. She was eventually rescued, but before leaving the underworld the myth says she ate some pomegranate seeds. Doing so forced her to return every year to spend several months back in the underworld with Hades. When Persephone returns to the underworld the earth endures winter.

Pomegranate power Is No Myth!

The Swiss study of 60 elderly people published in Nature Metabolism (June 14, 2019) showed that supplements of urolithin A increased mitochondrial biogenesis, just as exercise can. The subjects received either urolithin A or a placebo. They took the pills for a month.

Mitochondrial health was enhanced by urolithin A. As we age our mitochondria begin to break down. It needs to be recycled or else our energy factories become increasingly dysfunctional. Urolithin A appears to be one of the few compounds that actually does that.

How the Body Turns Pomegranate Power into Urolithin A:

Urolithin A is not actually found in pomegranates. The seeds contain a precursor compound that is converted to UA in our bodies by gut bacteria. In other words our microbiome helps manufacture UA after we eat pomegranates or drink pomegranate juice.

If UA increases muscle mass, improves endurance and ultimately, longevity, it will fulfill the ancient Chinese beliefs. It may take quite a few more years of research, however, to demonstrate such benefits. In the meantime we think enjoying pomegranates and pomegranate juice makes a lot of sense.

You can watch one of the co-authors of the Swiss study describe pomegranate power and UA in a lovely little video at this link.

Other Health Benefits from Pomegranate Power:

We love pomegranate juice. It is pricey, though. At Costco you can buy 1.77 L (60 oz. or 1.87 quarts) for about $10. We dilute it to make it last.

There is some evidence that pomegranate juice can lower blood pressure (Pharmacological Research, Jan. 2017). Learn more details about how it works at this link:

Pomegranate Juice for High Blood Pressure

Pomegranate Juice for Joint Pain

Pomegranate juice may also substitute for grape juice in a renowned arthritis remedy. This reader was back in fighting form with pomegranate juice and pectic. Read down this article to get the details about how he did it and why there is an explanation for the benefit he achieved.

Pomegranate is The People’s Pharmacy Favorite Food # 4. Learn more about its health benefits and 24 other Favorite Foods in our book, Quick and Handy Home Remedies: Q&As for Your Common Ailments

Share your own pomegranate power story in the comment section.

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.” .
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Citations
  • Andreux, P. A., et al, "The mitophagy activator urolithin A is safe and induces a molecular signature of improved mitochondrial and cellular health in humans," Nature Metabolism, June 14, 2019, DOI https://doi.org/10.1038/s42255-019-0073-4
  • Sahebkar, A., et al, "Effects of pomegranate juice on blood pressure: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials," Pharmacological Research, Jan. 2017, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.phrs.2016.11.018
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What medications interact with Pomegranates and pomergranate juice negatively?

It would be nice to know which brand of urolithin A was tested in the Swiss study.

I have been taking 4 small cups of the juice every day with my breakfast. I remember seeing something about it some time ago–that it helps the arteries to stay clear. I have no way of knowing if that is true but it’s more than worth the cost. Besides it tastes GREAT. Case closed for me. I love it!

Limited availability and high cost prevent me from using the juice. Any idea if pomegranate capsules would help?

I love home remedies and use them all the time.

Pomegranate juice has about 40g of fruit sugar in 8 ounces. I limit my intake to one ounce, 5g of sugar. How much is needed to have a benefit?

I drink only a small amount, and I truly believe it has health benefits that get rid of yeast on the tongue.

This is very interesting information. Question is which gut bacteria are required to produce Urolithin A from pomegranate juice or arils? How would one know if he had those bacteria, and how would one acquire them? I really enjoy pomegranates in season. I sprinkle a tablespoon of the arils on morning cereal.

I used pomegranate powder for a short period of time. Every time I used it I would get a headache. I thought it was just me, but I gave the remaining powder to my brother, and he reported the same result. Any ideas why that would happen?

You said that the seeds have a component that helps release UA, then does one eat the seeds or drink the juice?

I thought this fruit/juice had specific drug interactions. That is the reason I have not tried it – specifically, the statin-type drugs.

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