Oral ingestion of pomegranate extract reduces the production of chemicals that cause inflammation.The group from the Department of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland Ohio, led by Tariq Haqqi, showed that blood samples collected from rabbits fed pomegranate extract inhibited inflammation.
Pomegranate extract (Ellagic acid) is already used as a treatment in alternative medicine for inflammatory conditions, such as arthritis. Although pomegranate extract has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory actions in experiments on isolated tissues, it is not known whether ingestion of it can produce the same anti-inflammatory effects in living systems, either because the active compounds are not absorbed from the gut or because the levels of these compounds in the blood are not high enough.
Pomegranate extract, the equivalent of 175mls of pomegranate juice, was given to rabbits orally. The levels of antioxidants were measured in blood samples obtained after drinking the pomegranate extract and compared to blood samples collected before ingestion of pomegranate extract.
Plasma collected from rabbits following ingestion of pomegranate extract contained significantly higher levels of antioxidants than samples collected before ingestion of pomegranate extract; the extract also significantly reduced the activity of proteins that cause inflammation, specifically cyclooxygenase-2. It also reduced the production of pro-inflammatory compounds produced by cells isolated from cartilage.
The results of this study indicate the beneficial effects of pomegranate extract when ingested. According to Haqqi "the use of dietary nutrients or drugs based on them as an adjunct in the treatment of chronic inflammatory conditions may benefit patients". He adds that, "Current treatment with anti-inflammatory drugs can have serious side effects following long-term use. Further research is needed, however, especially on the absorption of orally ingested substances into the blood.