Pomegranate enhances healthy living: Finding science behind tradition

Ayurveda is one of the oldest medical systems originated in India. Rasayana is one of the eight disciplines described in Ayurveda. It deals with methods of rejuvenation such as dietary recipes and regimen, herbal and mineral supplements, and health-promoting lifestyle that are said to enhance quality of life and delay aging. Rasayanas are said to improve agni (digestion & metabolism), bioavailability of nutrients and improve their micro-circulation. Bangalore based scientists from Foundation for Revitalisation of Local Health Tradition (FRLHT) presently known as the Institute of Trans-Disciplinary Health Science & Technology and Indian Institute of Science (IISc) are involved in understanding the science behind Rasayana thantra. This project was initiated with fund support to FRLHT from Department of Science & Technology, Government of India.

We have used Drosophila (fruit fly) model to study the effect of pomegranate feeding on ageing. The fruit fly is considered to be a good model to understand aspects of human ageing because of its anatomical, physiological and genetic similarities. Flies fed on media supplemented with pomegranate juice were found to have increased survival by 19 %. This was 8% more when compared to Resveratrol feeding. Resveratrol, is a compound present in red wine. It is established as a life-span enhancer and is presently in human trials. Besides increasing the survival, pomegranate feeding also significantly increased the reproductive potential of the flies. According to modern bio-medicine life-span and reproduction and considered as contraindicating pathways. Previous experiments have shown that reproduction reduces life-span. Further, pomegranate feeding provided flies with increased fitness against chemical induced free radical stress and Candida infection.

Pomegranate fed flies were also found to be physically fit for extended period of their life-span. These results were observed irrespective of fly having any specific likeness or dis-likeness towards pomegranate substituted feed. The study and results have appeared in the Frontiers in Public Health journal on 16th December 2014. With known reasons, these results can be extrapolated to humans, atleast to some extent. This study provides evidence that, Ayurvedic Rasayanas can provide all-round health benefits. It also establishes the Rasayana Karma of pomegranate and the possibility of considering it as a nutraceutical.

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For more information: Dr. Padma Venkat, Head School of Life Science, email: Padma.venkat@frlht.org, Mr. S P Balasubramani, Assistant Professor, FRLHT-ITDHST, Email: balasubramani.sp@frlht.org