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New Research Finds Pomegranates Help Battle Hepatitis C

Nicole Cutler L.Ac. August 5, 2014

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By breaking the replication cycle of Hepatitis C, a new health benefit of pomegranate has been confirmed.
New Research Finds Pomegranates Help Battle Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C is a tenacious, sneaky virus that may be rendered a bit less tenacious and sneaky by pomegranate. For the estimated four million Americans with Hepatitis C, improvements in medication cocktails have improved the odds of being cured of Hepatitis C. However, thousands of individuals must manage this potentially lethal illness on their own. Evidence has been mounting of pomegranate’s value to heart and liver health, but a new study demonstrates this fruit’s specific capability to inhibit the Hepatitis C virus.

Hepatitis C is Tenacious and Sneaky

First discovered as a new virus causing liver damage in the 1980s, Hepatitis C was properly identified in 1989 and screened for in 1991. Unfortunately, a significant percentage of the population acquired Hepatitis C prior to these dates. These individuals typically harbor the Hepatitis C virus in their liver for 20 to 30 years before evidence of its presence emerges. Occasionally regarded as a ‘silent killer,’ the Hepatitis C virus can reproduce and gain strength for years in someone’s liver without exhibiting any symptoms. Once symptoms do emerge, the person affected likely has an advanced form of the sneaky Hepatitis C infection.

Upon learning of a chronic Hepatitis C infection, treatment is far from simple. Besides being costly, physicians are now relying on a combination of potent medications that can have severe side effects. These side effects may require additional drugs be added to the treatment regimen, or they can result in an inability to complete treatment. Even for those who are able to complete a course of Hepatitis C therapy with the most up-to-date medications, approximately 25 percent will be unsuccessful. Although the success rate is better now than it ever has been before, Hepatitis C remains a tenacious virus that refuses to succumb easily.

The Powerful Pomegranate

The pomegranate’s name is derived from the Middle French “pomme garnete,” which literally means seeded apple. Many scholars believe that the forbidden, irresistible fruit that Eve indulged of in the Garden of Eden was actually a pomegranate.

The pomegranate is a red fruit with a tough outer rind that houses a plethora of seeds compartmentalized by waxy pith. Only the juice surrounding each seed (and the seeds) are edible, and it takes a bit of work to get to the seeds. However, the labor involved is worthwhile because pomegranates contain high levels of potent antioxidants – substances that prevent damage to our body’s cells. Some sources claim that the pomegranate contains the highest level of antioxidants of all fruits.

Pomegranate and Hepatitis C

Despite the belief that food is medicine, rarely does a natural food demonstrate a capacity to stop a tenacious, sneaky virus like Hepatitis C. The pomegranate appears to be an exception. Nutritionists have known for a long time that the benefits of pomegranate include liver protection, a likely consequence of its high antioxidant content. Yet pomegranate’s health benefits go beyond simple liver protection and extend to fighting the Hepatitis C virus.

Researchers at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bangalore found that three compounds in pomegranate (punicalin, punicalagin and ellagic acid), suppresses the Hepatitis C virus. More specifically, these three pomegranate compounds found in the fruit’s peel successfully inhibit the NS3 protease enzyme in Hepatitis C.

Regarding Hepatitis C, lead researcher professor Saumitra Das of the department of microbiology and cell biology said, “The NS3 protease enzyme is very important for the virus for the polyprotein process, in which the virus replicates. The compounds we have found in the pomegranate’s peel inhibit the enzyme and appear to block the catalytic site of the enzyme in a cell-culture system.” To simplify, healthy cells were:

  • pretreated with the pomegranate compound, then
  • inundated with the Hepatitis C virus, then
  • spared because the pomegranate blocked Hepatitis C infection.

Because the pomegranate compounds blocks Hepatitis C’s life cycle, they inhibit virus entry and replication – two primary, therapeutic goals for stopping Hepatitis C. According to Das, about one liter of pomegranate juice provides between 1.5 and 2 grams of these compounds. Based on Das’s research, expect to see future generations of Hepatitis C drugs based on punicalin, punicalagin and ellagic acid.

Few would have guessed that the ancient “seeded apple” holds the key to unlock the secrets of the sneaky and tenacious Hepatitis C virus. Until the day comes when the primary Hepatitis C vaccine or therapy is based on this powerful fruit, drinking pomegranate juice is a safe way to use this revered food as potent, Hepatitis C medicine.

http://www.bangaloremirror.com/bangalore/others/Pomegranate-peel-stops-Hepatitis-C-virus/articleshow/38752876.cms, Pomegranate Peel Stops Hepatitis C Virus, Tapasya Mitra Mazumder, Retrieved August 1, 2014, Bennett, Coleman, and Co., Ltd., 2014.

https://www.drfuhrman.com/library/article19.aspx, Secrets Revealed: The Powerful Health Benefits of the Pomegranate, Retrieved August 2, 2014, DrFuhrman.com, Inc., 2014.

http://www.hepctrust.org.uk/Hepatitis_C_Info/About+Hepatitis+C/About+Hepatitis+C, About Hepatitis C, Retrieved August 2, 2014, Hepatitis C Trust, 2014.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/lifestyle/wellness/pomegranate-can-help-prevent-hepatitis-c-infection-study/article1-1240359.aspx, Pomegranate Can Help Prevent Hepatitis C Infection, Vanita Srivastava, Retrieved August 1, 2014, Hindustan Times, 2014.

http://www.nature.com/srep/2014/140624/srep05411/full/srep05411.html, Small Molecule Inhibitors of HCV Replication from Pomegranate, B. Uma Reddy, et al, Retrieved August 1, 2014, Scientific Reports, June 2014.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23160382, The protective role of pomegranate juice against carbon tetrachloride-induced oxidative stress in rats, Pirinccioglu M, et al, Retrieved August 2, 2014, Toxicology and Industrial Health, November 2012.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24650251, Effect of Punica granatum (pomegranate) juice extract on healthy liver and hepatotoxicity induced by diethylnitrosamine and phenobarbital in male rats, Shaban NZ, et al, Retrieved August 2, 2014, Journal of Medicinal Food, March 2014.

http://pomegranates.org, Welcome to the Wonderful World of Pomegranates “The Jewel of Autumn”, Retrieved August 2, 2014, Pomegranate Council, 2014.

http://www.punemirror.in/news/india/Pomegranate-peel-can-stop-Hepatitis-C-virus/articleshow/38814502.cms, Pomegranate Peel Can Stop Hepatitis C Virus, Tapasya Mitra Mazumder, Retrieved August 2, 2014, Bennett, Coleman & Co, Ltd, 2014.

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HepatitisCentral.com provides information regarding hepatitis and liver disease. Comments are available to the community in order to discuss these topics and obtain answers to questions through community members. The Editors at HepatitisCentral.com will not be responding to questions or comments posed in article comments.

  • SuziQ

    When I did my clinical trial, I was not allowed pomegranates. Had no idea that they helped the liver. I was not allowed any supplements either. Apparently Merck did know that they could have a positive effect and did not want the trial to be skewed. I am an advocate of supplements to help protect the liver but know they will not cure Hep C. I will be 80 in a few weeks and was declared SVR on July 9, 2014 at 24 weeks post treatment. I reached my goal of SVR before my 80th birthday, thanks to Merck and the wonderful staff at my clinical trial center. Now, I will continue with supplements to reverse my cirrhosis. The posts from Nicole have been very helpful over the years.

  • Angelo

    Please Suzie don’t take any supplements. You have cirrhosis and they will not help one bit. Not with a very damaged liver. You will do more harm then good. Don’t believe everything you read. Most all of it doesn’t even get absorbed and most studies that due show a supplement works needs to be taken at mega dosages. Some supplements are OK but not if you have cirhosis.

    • SuziQ

      Hi Angelo,
      I don’t take just anything. I do believe the supplements were beneficial in maintaining my health. I was only in the beginning stage of cirrhosis after 48 years of Hep C. There are some “snake oil” supps and there are good ones. I just commented because Merck had pomegranates on their list of forbidden foods and I wondered why. So were apples forbidden during the trial–and orange marmalade and grapefruit. I was asked to take B-12 during the trial. I have been UND since week 4 of the trial, so no virus for 10 months now.
      Thank you for your concern. I am careful about what I take. That is why I had refused interferon over the years. The new drugs are our hope for the future.

      • Nettie

        I have Hep. C and was diagnosed with cirrhosis in Nov. 2012. My Gastro Dr. said there were 6 familys & I was in Family 2 of Hep. C. and I had to take 2 pills a day for 3 months. I don’t know what she means by Family 2. Is this stage 2? Please help.

        • Steve

          He should have said genotype, not family. Look it up. A lot of doctors remember about as much of what they learned from med school as you remember from gradeschool.

    • Vesta

      And how do you know that? Am I supposed to read a comment from someone named Angelo and radically change my self-help strategy? If you say something like this, refer to source or do some other backing. You sound like you are trying to dispel an unwarranted belief. But you replace it with just an opposite belief, that equally can be false.

  • Gary Wand

    This is the first time I have heard that supplements do no good if you have cirrhosis. I think this kind of advice is negligent in its lack of consideration of the specific characteristics of the person who is saying they have cirrhosis. Is it mild cirrhosis? What is the medical history of this patient and what is their current lifestyle in terms of alcohol or toxic substance use (Tylenol, Ibuprofen, etc.) if any, as well as diet, exercise, and general environment. There are far too many political issues between the pharmaceutical companies and natural medicine to expect good honest advice from the former. I would like to know what is the basis of this “no supplements” advice and at which point in the progression of liver disease is it applicable and why????

    • Eva

      Gary Wand, Yes I agree very much, that there are far too many political issues between the pharmaceutical companies and natural medicine to expect good honest advice from the former.

      And as well using the scare tactic to encourage all the people to do the Hep C chemotherapy.
      Now the supplements are bad for you lol

  • Nazarov Eugeny

    Very interesting information and medicinal properties of pomegranate. I want to tell you about another method for the prevention and treatment of hepatitis C. I was infected with hepatitis C in 1990. Then this agent called agent of hepatitis – no-A-no-B. Later I had discovered hepatitis C virus (genotype 1b) I do not used any diet, Including refused to drink dry wine. I recently did elastography, which revealed the extent of fibrosis F 0-F1. I used ozone therapy all the time the disease . The last two years I took 8 sessions of extracorporeal treatment of blood with ozone (EBOO). Now I have a sustained virologic response. Maybe my story will be of interest to patients suffering from this disease.