Latin name: Punica granatum L
Pomegranate in history and myth
Pomegranate originated in the region between Iran and Northern India, where it has been cultivated for millennia and still remains a characteristic feature of the cuisine. Since ancient times pomegranates have been grown in the Mediterranean region, the Middle East and South Asia. Pomegranate plays a rich part in the myths, lore and literature of the Silk Road lands and the Mediterranean, finding its place in Greco-Roman, Jewish, Christian and Islamic scriptures and rituals. Islamic Hadith notes that pomegranate "cleanses you of Satan and from evil aspirations for forty days." And in another inspiring Islamic quote, the Prophet Muhammed's cousin, Sayyiduna Ali, said that the light of Allah (God) is in the heart of whoever eats pomegranate.
The fruiting of the pomegranate heralds the onset of winter; so it is told that Persephone was abducted by Hades (Pluto) and carried off to the underworld. Because she ate four pomegranate seeds in the realm of Hades, she had to spend four months a year in the Underworld, returning to bring the springtime.
Spilling over with fertility in the form of rich, ruby-red seeds, pomegranate is a symbol of Divine Mother and of the Madonna, as beautifully portrayed by Botticelli.
Pomegranate is known as an Ayurvedic pharmacy in its own right. The bark and root bark are used for diarrhea and dysentery, while the fruit and the rind (pericarp) are used as medicinal foods and home remedies as well as in more complex Ayurvedic formulations. Pomegranate rind is a rich source of phytoestrogens helpful for menopause. The fruit contains numerous antioxidants including phenolics, flavonoids, ellagitannins, and proanthocyanidin compounds as well as minerals, mainly potassium.
Despite containing phytoestrogens, pomegranate is not merely safe in breast cancer; pomegranate has been shown in vitro and in animal studies to inhibit the growth of breast cancer cells, prostate cancer and skin cancer. Pomegranate is also a beneficial antioxidant for heart disease and blood lipid disorders and has been found in animal models to help erectile dysfunction. https://www.hindawi.com/journals/bmri/2014/686921/
Pomegranate seed essential oil is obtained by pressing pomegranate seeds and is a rich source of the antioxidants ellagic acid and punicic acid. Keep a bottle of organic pomegranate essential oil in your bathroom and apply it to any inflamed or sun-damaged areas. It is usually safe for sensitive facial skin.
Pomegranate breast oil is made by mixing one part pomegranate rind with sixteen parts water, cooking this down to four parts and then cooking this decoction into an equal amount of mustard oil until all the water is evaporated, after which the pomegranate peel is strained out. This oil is rich in compounds that help prevent breast cancer and can be used for a weekly or daily breast massage.
Pomegranate juice is an important Ayurvedic medicine. Fresh is ideal; if you are using bottled pomegranate juice, dilute with water.
Sweet varietals of pomegranate are the most highly prized in Ayurvedic texts and by Islamic hakims (traditional doctors) and the following information refers to sweet pomegranate:
Rasa: Sweet, sour, astringent with a touch of bitter
Calms all three doshas
- Relieves morbid thirst
- Relieves burning sensations
- Removes bad odour from stomach, throat and mouth
- Promotes semen
- Absorbent, binds stools
- Brain tonic
- Builds blood
- Intestinal parasites
- Diarrhoea and dysentery
- Bleeding piles
- Heart palpitations
- Bad taste in mouth or lack of relish for food: Do mouthwash with some pomegranate juice with a pinch of rock salt and a teaspoon of honey, holding it in the mouth for as long as possible. It is said to cure even incurable loss of appetite.
- Nosebleed: instill 2 drops pomegranate juice into each nostril.
- Burning eyes: instill 1 drop of fresh or diluted pomegranate juice into each eye at bedtime.
- Nausea, especially in pregnancy: Drink a cup of pomegranate juice with a pinch of cardamom.
- Cough, especially in child: ½ cup pomegranate juice with a pinch of ginger and a pinch of pippali (piper longum).
- Rashes, hives: 1 cup pomegranate juice with 1 tsp. turbinado sugar and a pinch of ginger.
- Excess thirst, dehydration: 1 cup pomegranate juice, ½ cup grape juice, 1 tsp. tubinado sugar, 1 pinch ginger powder.
- Bleeding piles: For hemorrhoids that are painful and bleed, take 1 Tbsp. fresh pomegranate juice with 1-2 tsp. raw sugar twice a day.
- Bleeding piles: Take 1 cup pomegranate rind powder. Add 4 cups water to it and boil the mixture. Allow it to cool. One glass of this mixture can be taken each morning and evening.
- Dysentery: ½ cup pomegranate juice with pinch clove and 2 pinches ginger powder 2-3 x daily.
- Weight reduction: Fast on pomegranate juice two days a week.
Pomegranate home remedy sources: Alandi Remedies Manual and Ayurvedic Cooking for Self-Healing by Usha and Vasant Lad.
Alakananda Ma M.B., B.S. (Lond.) is a Certified Ayurvedic Doctor (NAMA) and graduate of a top London medical school. She is co-founder of Alandi Ayurveda Clinic and Alandi Ayurveda Gurukula in Boulder Colorado, as well as a spiritual mother, teacher, flower essence maker and storyteller. Alakananda is a well known and highly respected practitioner in the Ayurveda community both nationally and internationally.
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