Pomegranate, Then and Now.


Pomegranate was regarded by Ayurveda of India as a "pharmacy unto itself". Ancient Greeks used all parts of the pomegranate plant to treat a variety of conditions and infections. By the 16th Century, the Royal College of Physicians in Great Britain had included the pomegranate in its coat of arms.  Today the pomegranate is truly regarded as the twenty-first-century natural medicine.  

The pomegranate is a rounded shrub that typically grows 12 to 14 feet high and is native from India to Iran.  The rich, red fruit is surrounded by a hard leathery skin that protects delicious sweetly flavoured pomegranate seeds inside.

The pomegranate (Punica granatum) is one of the oldest fruits known to man, mentioned in the Homeric Hymns (a collection of 33 anonymous Ancient Greek hymns) and in the Book of Exodus (a book from the Bible). It would appear as if pomegranates have been around forever.  Pomegranates are known to have been grown in Egypt since the discovery of agriculture about 10000 years ago and relics have been found in ancient Egyptian tombs and in Early Bronze Age levels of Jericho.

It is traditional for Jews to eat pomegranates on Rosh Hashanah because the pomegranate, with its numerous seeds, symbolizes fruitfulness.  Also, it is said to have 613 seeds, which corresponds with the 613 commandments of the Torah.
For the Greeks, pomegranates still holds strong symbolic meanings.  On important days in the Greek Orthodox calendar, such as the Presentation of the Virgin Mary and on Christmas Day, it is traditional to have pomegranates at the dinner table.
In Christianity the pomegranate is a symbol of the fullness of Jesus’ suffering and resurrection.
Islam: According to the Qur’an, pomegranates grow in the gardens of paradise, and it also mentions pomegranates twice as examples of good things God creates.
In Hinduism the pomegranate symbolizes prosperity and fertility.
In China the pomegranate is a symbol of Chinese fertility.

The pomegranate was introduced into South Africa in the late 1600s and grows in the Cape region, although most South Africans have memories of old, wizened pomegranate trees growing somewhere in the vicinity.

Not only does pomegranate find its way through our history, but it also has its place in medicine and beauty.
Pomegranate juice provides about 16% of an adult’s daily vitamin C requirement per 100ml serving, and is a good source of Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), potassium and polyphenols.
Thanks to the massive increase in the amount of pomegranate research that has been undertaken in the last eight to ten years, we now have a far better understanding of why the pomegranate has so many beneficial health effects.  Although the actions and properties of the chemical constituents of pomegranates are complex and multifunctional, they have 2 common denominators:
-    Antioxidant: A substance that helps neutralise free radicals that attack cells
-    Anti-inflammatory.

The high oxidative properties of various components of the pomegranate mean that it has great anti-ageing benefits for the skin.  The ellagic acid found on pomegranates strengthens cell membranes and reduces water loss form cells.    Pomegranates also supports health collagen production.  
Pomegranate juice provides about 16% of an adult’s daily vitamin C requirement per 100ml serving, and is a good source of Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), potassium and polyphenols.

“About the pomegranate I must say nothing,” whispered the traveller Pausanias in the 2nd century, for its story is something of a mystery. - The traveller Pausanias in the 2nd century