Did I get your attention?
Punica granatum is the botanical name for pomegranate, and it has benefits for those who want to prevent gum disease or who already have gum disease or who have other ailments, as you will read below. A current paper that was published in the July-August 2014 issue of the Journal of Indian Society of Periodontology summarized 65 peer-reviewed articles to come up with some amazing facts and conclusions.(1)
Pomegranates are one of the oldest edible fruits, which have a long history of medicinal value. Many fruits are nature’s gift to health, and pomegranates are one of the best. They have various bioactive components, which possess documented medicinal benefits with minimal side effects.(2)
Several studies have shown that elements in pomegranates will reduce gingival bleeding and pocket depths.(3,4,5) Rinses containing extracts of pomegranates have been shown to be as antibacterial as chlorhexidine.(6,7)
Pomegranates also could be an excellent adjunct to conventional periodontal therapy as an anti-plaque agent due to their antibacterial properties and their ability to prevent the attachment of plaque’s biofilm to the tooth surface.(8)
Deep periodontal pockets have been shown to be associated with Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection.(9) Increased levels of H. pylori also have been detected in the mouths of patients with periodontitis.(10,11,12) Pomegranates have demonstrated significant antibacterial activity against H. pylori.(13)
In addition, pomegranates have demonstrated positive effects on healthy gut bacteria.(14) By increasing healthy gut bacteria, periodontal pathogens are reduced.(15)
Pomegranates are not just for gum disease. They have significant benefits for overall health. Pomegranates have been considered “a pharmacy unto itself”(16) because they possess bactericidal, antifungal, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory properties. While the natural phytochemicals in pomegranates have proven to be good alternatives to many synthetic antimicrobials(17), they may prevent bacteria from becoming antibiotic resistant.(18) They also have been widely used in the treatment of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, asthma, inflammation, ulcers, mouth lesions, skin lesions, atherosclerosis, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, Alzheimer’s disease, obesity, and many more.(19,20,21)
Let’s get to the actual fruit.
A ripe pomegranate is about five inches wide with a deep red, leathery skin. The fruit inside contains many seeds separated by white, membranous pericarp. The seeds are enclosed in small, red, jewel-like drops called arils. The material inside the arils is tart and juicy and surrounds the white seeds of the pomegranate fruit. The arils and crunchy white seeds are the only edible portions of the pomegranate. Yummy, tart, and healthy!
Here is how to open the pomegranate and remove the arils. Be careful. The liquid part of the arils will stain everything! (here is a video demonstration)
• Cut off its flowery crown and stem base with a sharp knife.
• Score the pomegranate with cuts from the crown area to the base of the fruit as if you are going to break it into quarters. Don’t cut too deeply, or you will injure the arils.
• Soak it in cold water in a large bowl. The water will loosen the seeds to make them easier to collect.
• While the pomegranate is under water, gently pull fruit apart into quarters. This also prevents you from dripping the liquid that will stain.
• Run your fingers through each quarter slice to start separating the seeds while still in the water bath.
• Remove the white, fibrous material, which should mostly be floating on the top of the water.
• Use a strainer to gather all the wonderful arils.
• Then let dry for 5 minutes on a paper towel.
• Store the seeds if you don’t want to eat them right away. You can lay them flat in a container and refrigerate them for up to three days, or freeze them for up to six months.
I love the whole fruit. I don’t suggest taking supplements containing extracts of pomegranates. I don’t suggest drinking the juice of pomegranates. I do recommend that you eat pomegranates – the arils and the crunchy seeds. It is always healthier eating a fruit rather than drinking its juice. Juice is loaded with sugars and devoid of many nutrients that juicing discards.
A mouth rinse or toothpaste incorporating pomegranate extracts may be beneficial for gum health. I have considered creating an all-natural toothpaste incorporating pomegranate seed oil among other natural ingredients.
I have discovered that pomegranate arils are sold at Trader Joe’s, already removed from the fruit and ready to eat. How easy could that be?
1 Prasad, Divyashree and Kunnaiah, Ravi. Punica granatum: A review on its potential role in treating periodontal disease. J Indian Soc Periodontol. 2014 Jul-Aug; 18(4): 428–432.
2 Sangeetha J, Vijayalakshmi K. Antimicrobial activity of rind extracts of Punica granatum Linn. The Bioscan. 2011;6:119–124.
3 Pereira JV, Pereira MDSV, Higino JS, Sampio FC, Alves PM, Araujo CRF. Studies with the extract of the Punica granatum Linn.(Pomegranate): Antimicrobial effect “in vitro” and clinical evaluation of a toothpaste upon microorganisms of the oral biofilm. Journal of Dental Science. 2005;20:262–269.
4 Sastravaha G, Yotnuengnit P, Booncong P, Sangtherapitikul P. Adjunctive periodontal treatment with Centella asiatica and Punica granatum extracts. A preliminary study. J Int Acad Periodontol. 2003;5:106–115.
5 Badria FA, Zidan OA. Natural products for dental caries prevention. J Med Food. 2004;7:381–384.
6 DiSilvestro RA, DiSilvestro DJ, DiSilvestro DJ. Pomegranate extract mouth rinsing effects on saliva measures relevant to gingivitis risk. Phytother Res. 2009;23:1123–1127.
7 Ahuja S, Dodwad V, Kukreja BJ, Mehra P, Kukreja P. A comparative evaluation of efficacy of Punica granatum and chlorhexidine on plaque and gingivitis. J Int Clin Dent Res Organ. 2011;3:29–32.
8 Menezes SM, Cordeiro LN, Viana GS. Punica granatum (pomegranate) extract is active against dental plaque. J Herb Pharmacother. 2006;6:79–92.
9 Dye BA, Kruszon-Moran D, McQuillan G. The relationship between periodontal disease attributes and Helicobacter pylori infection among adults in the United States. Am J Public Health. 2002;92:1809–1815.
10 Umeda M, Kobayashi H, Takeuchi Y, Hayashi J, Morotome-Hayashi Y, Yano K, et al. High prevalence of Helicobacter pylori detected by PCR in the oral cavities of periodontitis patients. J Periodontol. 2003;74:129–134.
11 Gebara EC, Pannuti C, Faria CM, Chehter L, Mayer MP, Lima LA. Prevalence of Helicobacter pylori detected by polymerase chain reaction in the oral cavity of periodontitis patients. Oral Microbiol Immunol. 2004;19:277–280.
12 Riggio MP, Lennon A. Identification by PCR of Helicobacter pylori in subgingival plaque of adult periodontitis patients. J Med Microbiol. 1999;48:317–322.
13 Hajimahmoodi M, Shams-Ardakani M, Saniee P, Siavoshi F, Mehrabani M, Hosseinzadeh H, et al. In vitro antibacterial activity of some Iranian medicinal plant extracts against Helicobacter pylori. Nat Prod Res. 2011;25:1059–1066.
14 Howell AB, D’Souza DH. The Pomegranate: Effects on bacteria and viruses that influence human health. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med 2013. 2013:606212.
15 Stamatova I, Meurman JH. Probiotics and periodontal disease. Periodontol 2000. 2009;51:141–151.
16 Prakash CVS, Prakash I. Bioactive Chemical Constituents from Pomegranate (Punica granatum) Juice, Seed and Peel-A Review. Int J Res Chem Environ. 2011;1:1–18.
17 Abdollahzdeh SH, Mashouf R, Mortazavi H, Moghaddam M, Roozbahani N, Vahedi M. Antibacterial and Antifungal activities of Punica granatum Peel extracts against Oral Pathogens. J Dent (Tehran) 2011;8:1–6.
18 Koh KH, Tham FY. Screening of traditional Chinese medicinal plants for quorum-sensing inhibitors activity. J Microbiol Immunol Infect. 2011;44:144–148.
19 Abdollahzdeh SH, Mashouf R, Mortazavi H, Moghaddam M, Roozbahani N, Vahedi M. Antibacterial and Antifungal activities of Punica granatum Peel extracts against Oral Pathogens. J Dent (Tehran) 2011;8:1–6.
20 Naqvi S, Khan MSY, Vohora SB. Anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anthelmintic investigations on Indian medicinal plants. Fitoterapia. 1991;62:221–228.
21 Miguel MG, Neves MA, Antunes MD. Pomegranate (Punica granatum L.): A medicinal plant with myriad biologic properties: A short review. J Med Plants Res. 2010;4:2836–2847.