Written by Karen Pilkington and the CAM-Cancer Consortium.
Updated March 1, 2017

Pomegranate (Punica granatum)

Abstract and key points

  • Pomegranate (Punica granatum) is an edible fruit traditionally used to treat a range of ailments
  • Pomegranate juice and extracts have been used in trials in prostate cancer
  • Evidence on effectiveness in cancer is insufficient
  • Few adverse effects have been reported with the juice but there is limited safety data on other extracts

Pomegranate (Punica granatum) is an edible fruit originating in the Middle East, the juice of which is widely available commercially. Various parts of the fruit including the juice have been used traditionally to treat a range of ailments.

The juice and other extracts have shown a wide range of bioactivity in pre-clinical studies, such as anti-inflammatory, anti-infective and anti-oxidant effects.

On the basis of this research, beneficial effects are claimed in cancer, specifically in the prevention and treatment of prostate cancer.

Few clinical trials in cancer have been conducted to date: an uncontrolled trial showed promising beneficial effects on prostate specific antigen (PSA) doubling time in prostate cancer but subsequent randomised controlled trials have failed to show any difference between pomegranate and placebo. One small randomized clinical trial did not show an effect of pomegranate consumption on breast cancer risk.

Pomegranate juice has been widely consumed for many years. It has been used in studies lasting up to 3 years and appears to be safe. A small number of cases of allergic reactions and possible interaction with warfarin have been reported although causation has not been proven. Limited safety data is available on extracts. There has been a report of genotoxicity in an in vivo study using very high doses of whole fruit extract.

There is insufficient evidence from clinical studies to draw conclusions about possible effectiveness in cancer but there do not appear to be any serious concerns as to the safety of pomegranate juice extracts with usual therapeutic doses.

Read about the regulation, supervision and reimbursement of herbal medicine at NAFKAMs website CAM Regulation.

Citation

Karen Pilkington, CAM-Cancer Consortium. Pomegranate (Punica granatum) [online document]. http://cam-cancer.org/The-Summaries/Herbal-products/Pomegranate-Punica-granatum. March 1, 2017.

Document history

Fully revised and updated in March 2017 by Karen Pilkington.

First published in January 2013, authored by Karen Pilkington.

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