Common Name: Pomegranate | Scientific Name: Punicum Granatum

Family: Punicaceae

RESOURCES
Introduction
Chapter from Healing Plants of the Bible


Pomegranate

Punica granatum

Punicaceae

Introduction

Though experiencing a renaissance in interest, for a long list of very modern reasons, the pomegranate is one of our most ancient fruits. It is native to the home of several ancient civilizations, and across the board, the pomegranate factored into ancient life.

For much of the year, the tree disappears into the landscape. It is at home in dry environments that tend to be on the drab side. Plants, to manage the lack of moisture, produce small inconspicuous leaves. Small leaves reduce the amount of moisture lost through evaporation and discourages grazing animals from heading towards the plant.

Fading into the landscape serves a desert plant well.

However, in the spring, the pomegranate jumps into the limelight. At the first hint of spring, the tree explodes with fragrant electric yellow or orange flowers. The word electric is important here because the flowers are so bright they pop out at you, literally…. this is especially true due to the colourless locales in which they exist. In summer, the tree is covered with bright red, larger than apple sized fruits. These searing red hot softballs are filled with hundreds of sweet tangy refreshing juice filled seeds.

The tree goes out of its way to attract the attention of the human eye. You would have to be blind to miss this one. The fruits electric colours and delectable juice scream… notice me! And that is exactly what ancient man did.

Desert people pounded the seeds of the pomegranate to produce a thirst quenching beverage. How long have they done this? A long time. Some seriously dried remnants of pomegranate peals were unearthed in the Neolithic city of Gezer !

Being very popular with one ancient people, the Israelites, it would pay to start the history tour there.

The pomegranate in the Biblical day.

Needless to say, the ancient Israelites took notice of this rather amazing plant. It grows freely in Israel and did so in the days the Bible events were happening. It gets mentioned time and again in the Bible, always in a very complimentary manner. If you are a Bible reader, you will find the pomegranate mentioned in the following chapters.

Exodus 28:33-34

Exodus 39:24-26

Numbers 13:23

Numbers 20:5

Numbers 33:19-20

Deuteronomy 8:8

Joshua 15:32

Joshua 19:7 and 13

Judges 20:45

I Samuel 14:2

II Samuel 4:2

I Kings 6:32

I Kings 7:18 and 20

II Kings 5:18

II Kings 25:17

II Chronicles 4:13

II Chronicles 3:16

Song 4:13, 6:7, 7:12, 8:2,

Joel 1:12

Haggai 2:19

To get a sense of the Israelites perspective on this fruit, let’s look at a few quotes from the Bible.

Numbers 13:23

“And they came to the valley of Eschol, and cut down from there a branch with a single cluster of grapes, and they carried it on a pole between two of them, they brought also some pomegranates and figs.”

Song of Solomon 4: 3

“Your lips are like a scarlet thread, and your mouth is lovely. Your cheeks are like halves of a pomegranate behind your veil.”

The Hebrew word for the fruit is rimmon(singular) and rimmonim(plural). In fact, if you are familiar with contemporary synagogue practice, you will know this word. Rimmonin are the ornamental, decorative tops of the Torah scrolls. If you look closely, you will notice that these decorative tops are really pomegranates fashioned out of silver or gold

Silver pomegranates are placed on top of the Torah scrolls for a reason. The pomegranate was not a staple food, rather a rich treat enjoyed for a few weeks of the year. It was a highlight in the year. Like the pomegranate was a high light in the annual calendar, the Torah is meant to be the highlight in the day. Lore and legend gets very lyrical, but, the lore here is the pomegranate sits on top of the Torah, to remind people of this fact.

On a slightly less spiritual level, the Israelites loved the pomegranate because it contained sugar. And lots of it. To really appreciate this, you have to step back in time to a world where there was little sugar, little honey, and no canned fruit juice. A time when there were no bags of sugar, no bubbling sodas rich in corn syrup, no ice tea with a touch of sweetened lemonade. There was not much sweetness available in the Bible day, and this tree offered up sweet nectar for the cost of collecting fruit in the wild.

On top of that, being a desert clime, refreshing beverages were especially popular in the biblical day. Take a walk in Israel in the summer and after five minutes, you start dreaming of something wet to drink. Back in the biblical days, a tree that produced bucket after bucket of fruits that could be squeezed into a sweet, refreshing drink was a beloved tree.

When Moses sent the spies to the Promised Land to make sure it was really promising, the spies returned with pomegranates, proof positive that the Holy Land was worth the trip. A land rich in pomegranates was good land.

The trees are not very big, and in fact, bush may be a better description. The rarely get any bigger than a lilac bush. But, they are big in the production department. Each tree can produce up to 50 of the big apple sized fruits or 6 big pitchers of bright red nectar! Yes, the Israelites were familiar with this spindly little plant and the mother load of sweet juice it produced.

So popular was the fruit it ended up in much Bible history and lore. To begin with it is thought to be the tree of life in the garden of Eden and early Christians used the fruit as a symbol of eternal life. And that’s just a beginning. Here is a more comprehensive list.

The fruits was carved into the stone of the Temple and was embroidered on priestly clothing. Pomegranates were carved out of gold and used to decorate the temple altar and the Torah scrolls. (Exodus 2:33-34.) It was listed as one of the pleasant fruits in Egypt (Numbers 20:5) and is mentioned as one of the promised blessings of the Promised Land, the land of Israel . (Deuteronomy 8:8) A spiced wine was made of its juice and it was frequently mentioned in the Song of Solomon as a source of fertility. (Song 8:2)

And here is a really fascinating fact. King Solomon’s crown was designed after the pomegranate fruit. If you look at the bottom of the fruit it reveals a familiar shape. It seems that the crown shape that we know as the “crown” shape is really a replica of an upside down pomegranate. Though Kings always wore interesting things on their heads, King Solomon was the first king to wear a crown with the crown shape we all know. And…. it was designed after the pomegranate.

The Israelites were not the only people to associate the plant with their religion. Many that came before them and after them saw the plant as being a gift from god. At that time, gods and kings were closely related, and the pomegranate was used by other non-Israelite monarchs in their personal decorations.

Let’s have a peak at what was happening with the pomegranate outside the Kingdom of Israel . For starters, in many instances, gods had the same name as this fruit or a name based on the fruit. Remember, the Israelites called the fruit Rimmon.

Rimmon mentioned in II Kings 5:18, was an Assyrian deity worshipped at Damascus . Rimmon, the Babylonian Adad, and the Assyrian Hadad were the gods of thunder and the tree sacred to them was none other than our little pomegranate. In Egypt it was considered sacred to the gods and was carved into Egyptian sculpture and can be seen in inscriptions in the great tombs. The Persia kings had gold pomegranates as the head of their sceptres.

On the other side of the Mediterranean , the Greeks had the poor little fruit all tied up in a story that can only be described as a soap opera. A simple story line is that the pomegranate was associated with Jupiter. We know this because the ancient depiction of Jupiter shows him carrying a pomegranate in his hand. Oh, if it only stopped there. But alas it does not.

The longer Greek story would be this. Ceres, goddess of the earth, got mad when Zeus married off her daughter Prosperine to Pluto. It seems that Ceres left heaven in quite a huff. Apparently she was opposed to the marriage. Once out of heaven, and touring earth, those that came across her were in for a surprise. If they were nice to her she blessed them, if they were not, she cursed them. She is said to have carried a personal blow torch, would incinerate the person that irritated her, and start forest fires. Zeus was afraid Ceres would scorch the whole planet by the time she was finished with her war path. So, he took Prosperine away from her husband and gave her back to her mother.

Ceres was happy and put her blow torch away. But, Pluto was not equally pleased. Before Prosperine went home to her mother, He got Prosperine to eat a pomegranate that had been drugged. The drug made her return to hell, his home, six months out of every year. According to Greek legend, we have six nice months a year (when Prosperine is with her mother), and six nasty months a year (when Prosperine is visiting her husband). It is also said to have been sacred to Pluto. This is best described as one big Greek drama.

There are a few minor Greek myths regarding the pomegranate and they would include the following. According to Atheneus, it was first tree planted in Greece by the goddess Aphrodite. Alternatively, it is said to have sprung up in Greece from the spilt blood of Dionysius Zagreus.

However, there is something significant in this last paragraph. Whenever you see Aphrodite associated with a plant, you know it has ties to fertility and romance. This is not a single reference. The pomegranate gets mentioned in the Song of Songs, over and over again, in a very romantic and fertile context. The pomegranate, able to produce buckets of fruit, in the driest of locations, filled with hundreds of seeds, was seen as an ancient fertility aide.

Now, the Romans cannot be left out of the historical view of the pomegranate. Roman mythology states that the pomegranate came into being when a fortune teller told a nymph that she would wear a crown one day. Bacchus, god of the wine, thought he would play a trick on the royal hopeful and turned her into a pomegranate tree. The tree would spend eternity producing fruits that wear a crown on their bottom. I don’t think this was the crown the nymph had in mind.

The historical record tells us it was raised in the gardens around Carthage . Darius Hystaspes, according to Herodotus, ate the fruit on a regular basis. Homer says the fruit was found growing in the gardens of Alcinous. The Romans brought the fruit from Carthage to Italy , which is why they called it Mala Punica, the Phoenician apple. Pliny talked about nine different varieties in his day. This Roman name for the pomegranate is one we still live with. The scientific name for it is Punicum granatum. The Phoenician grain, referring to where the tree came from and the fact it is filled with hundreds of little juice covered grains.

The pomegranate in Asia .

The tree is native to Asia and can be found growing from Pakistan to the far reaches of China . Its real home is thought to be northern India

The pomegranate and industry

As you know, the fruit was juiced and used to make a refreshing beverage. But, the hard rind was also used for a practical necessity of ancient life. Leather. Animal skins have to be chemically treated to convert them into leather. Pomegranate peal was used to transform skin into leather. Cordova , Spain , is famous for the leathers that region produces. And this would be a very old story. It seem the Arabs that colonized Spain in the dark ages, brought with them the art of tanning. This art involved healthy quantities of pomegranate peal. The tanners of Cordova used the peal of the pomegranate to harden animal skins and convert them into their world famous leathers. The pomegranate, which contains a red tannin, or tanning compound, imparts a characteristic red hue to the leathers treated with it.

The pomegranate and health

The entire plant is considered medicinal in one way or the other. The rind of the fruit is the part most often used in medicine, and in tanning, as it contains a shocking 25% tannins by weight. That is a lot of tannins for any plant material. The root bark is equally rich in tannins. The tannins of the pomegranate are unique in the world of tannins and belong to a class of their own. Their tannins are called punico-tannic acids. One of the major uses of the plant has been to kill intestinal parasites. An alkaloid was discovered in the root bark, Pelletierine, in 1878. Pelletierine was proven to kill parasites that make themselves at home in the gut.

Maimonides felt that the pomegranate fruit was excellent for the stomach and that indeed all astringing substances were good for that important organ. “A sweet pomegranate has a wonderful quality when eaten with bread because this prevents illness in the stomach. The same is true of sour pomegranate in which food is cooked, such food does not cause damage in the stomach.”

In the book “Indian Plants and Drugs” the author recommends the rind of the fruit for diarrhoea and the root of the tree for treating tapeworm infestation. For the most part, pomegranate was used to treat digestive ills and we see this from our Indian source.

Diarrhoea: ” The pomegranate rind is a valuable astringent in diarrhoea and the advanced stages of dysentery. Usually administered in decoction which is prepared by boiling in a covered vessel two ounces of dried rind and 2 drachms of bruised cloves or cinnamon in a pint of water for fifteen minutes and straining. Of this, when cold the dose is one to two ounces of the fresh bark three or four times per day. In obstinate cases five drops of laudanum may be added to each dose.”

Tapeworm: “The powdered root is also similarly efficacious. The root bark, especially the fresh one, is a reliable remedy for the expulsion of taenia or tape worm. It is administered in decoction which is best made by digesting two ounces of the fresh bark and a little clove and reducing the stained liqueur by evaporation to ten ounces of it may also be prepared by boiling two ounces of the sliced fresh bark in to pints of water down to one pint and straining. This quantity should be given fasting early in the morning in doses of two ounces at intervals of an hour or two., the last dose being followed by an aperient and the worm is said to be expelled within 12 hours.”

As it turns out, the pomegranate bark is mentioned in the Egyptian Ebers papyrus as a treatment for worm infestation. It was used until the middle of this century around the world for the same purpose. The chemical isolated in the last century, pelletierine, along with related chemicals, iso-pelletierine, and n-methylated pseudopelletierine have been proven to kill those nasty invaders in the modern lab and in the modern gut. Worm infestation is still a problem globally and pomegranate peel is still used widely.

Northern Europeans only got their hands on the preserved plant material, namely dried rind, seeds, and syrup made from the fresh fruit. This syrup, grenadine, was popular first as a medicine in cooling temperatures. It pays to keep a bottle around in case anyone in the house is feeling unwell. In the ancient world, the juice was used to cool you off after a hot day or when an infection was causing a temperature. Of course Gerard has something to say about the plant.

Reduces temperatures: “The seed of the graines, and especially of the sower pomegranate, being dried, do likewise coole and binde.”

Stops diarrhoea: “They stop the flix, stay vomiting, and stanch the spitting of bloud, they strengthen the stomacke.”

Astringes or Tightens tissue: They fasten the teeth, and strengthen the gums , if the same be washed therewith. They are good against bursting that come by falling downe of the guts, if they be used in plaisters and applied.

Cures tonsillitis: The rinde or pill is not onely like in facultie to the seeds, and both the sorts of the flowers, but also more available, for it cooleth and bindeth more forcibly, it bringeth down hot swellings of the almonds in the throat, being used in gargarisme, or a lotion for the throat, and it is a singular remedy for all things that need cooling and binding.

Gerard’s perception of pomegranate was that it was an astringing and cooling drug. He recommends it for loose tissue in need of a little tightening, as in the case of tonsillitis or bad gums. Remember, I mentioned the use of oak bark to treat recurring tonsillitis and that tonsils lacking tone were more liable to infection? Here we see the same use of tannins to improve the tone of tonsils and other tissues. The astringent quality, according to Gerard and others, makes it drying in diarrhoea and dysentery.

Dysentery is not the killer today it was 100 years ago. The condition is caused by a bacteria known as shigella dysenteriae. The bacteria moves into the gut and causes all kinds of problems, not least of which, horrific diarrhoea that can kill a child in a day. The bacteria was a problem for the Israelites and they no doubt used pomegranate rind to dry the symptoms of the disease. In II Chronicles 21:18 we find these lovely lines, “And after all this the lord smote him in the bowels with an incurable disease. And it came to pass, after the end of two years, his bowels fell out by reason of his sickness, so he died of sore disease.” In Matthew 9:20, Mark 5:25, and Luke 8:43, we read of a women afflicted with a bloody flux, which is another name for dysentery.

Tannins dry up the gut so the diarrhoea stops, but, they also kill the bacteria that cause the problem in the first place. Is tea made out of pomegranate peal a nice beverage? No. Simply put, it tastes vile. But if you have diarrhoea, a tea made of pomegranate peal will make it stop. It is not commercially available any more. One would have to buy a pomegranate at the market and save the peel. It should be cut into small pieces and dried at a low heat in the oven until hard as a rock. The pieces can then be ground in a coffee grinder into a fine powder and stored until it is needed. A teaspoon of this powder added to a cup of hot water makes an excellent gargle in tonsillitis, gum disease, and taken internally in the occasional digestive upset. I said excellent, not tasty, so be prepared.

If you check around, you might find real grenadine syrup for sale. I can usually find it at Arab markets as people from the Middle East are rather fond of it. As I mentioned, grenadine syrup is pomegranate juice that has been cooked down. The flavour is wonderful and when added to a glass of seltzer water, the most exciting beverage is concocted. It will cool a person down in the summer and do the same in feverish conditions. Unlike some medicine, getting a kid to drink a glass of grenadine water will not be hard! Make a pitcher of grenadine fizzy water and you will be enjoying a very ancient beverage.

Botany

The pomegranate tree belongs to the family Punicaceae, a small family. There are a lonesome two members, the pomegranate and Punica protopunica, a dwarfish version of the pomegranate. The biblical pomegranate, Punica granatum, isn’t a huge tree, on average it is about the size of a lilac bush. The leaves are thin and oblong and shiny, dark green. The dark green leaves are a perfect backdrop for the parrot orange blossoms and fire engine red fruits that follow.

Chapter from Healing Plants of the Bible

Pomegranate

Punica granatum

Punicaceae

Numbers 13:23 and they came to the valley of Eschol, and cut down from there a branch with a single cluster of grapes, and they carried it on a pole between two of them, they brought also some pomegranates and figs.

Song of Solomon 4:3 Your lips are like a scarlet thread, and your mouth is lovely. Your cheeks are like halves of a pomegranate behind your veil.

Exodus 28:33-34

Exodus 39:24-26

Numbers 13:23

Numbers 20:5

Numbers 33:19-20

Deuteronomy 8:8

Joshua 15:32

Joshua 19:7 and 13

Judges 20:45

I Samuel 14:2

II Samuel 4:2

I Kings 6:32

I Kings 7:18 and 20

II Kings 5:18

II Kings 25:17

II Chronicles 4:13

II Chronicles 3:16

Song 4:13, 6:7, 7:12, 8:2,

Joel 1:12

Haggai 2:19

We have another Bible favourite on our hands. This is high drama desert plant and one the cave man would have noticed with no trouble at all. In the spring, it is adorned with fragrant electric yellow orange flowers. In summer, it is covered with larger than apple sized fruits filled with hundreds of seeds floating in sweet tasting membranes. Needless to say, the ancient Israelites took notice of this rather amazing plant. It gets mentioned time and again in the Bible, always in a very complimentary manner.

The Hebrew word for the fruit is rimmon and those of you familiar with modern synagogue practice will know that the ornaments on top of the Torah are called rimmonim. These ornamental silver pomegranates have adorned the Torah scrolls from the beginning. The pomegranate was not a staple food, rather a rich treat enjoyed for a few weeks of the year. It was a highlight in the year the way the Torah was meant to be a highlight in the day. Desert people still pound the seeds of the pomegranate to produce a thirst quenching beverage in the hot summer months. It is an ancient fruit, remnants of its peals were unearthed in the Neolithic city of Gezer.

To appreciate the Israelites feeling towards the pomegranate, think of time when there was no sugar, no bubbling sodas rich in corn syrup, no ice tea with a touch of sweetened lemonade. There was not much sweetness available in the Bible day, and being a desert clime, beverages were especially popular. Take a walk in Israel in the summer and after five minutes, you will start dreaming of something wet to drink. Back in the biblical days, a tree that produced bucket after bucket of fruits that could be squeezed into a sweet, refreshing drink was a loved tree.

When Moses sent the spies to the promised land to check it out to see if it was really promising, the spies returned with pomegranates, proof positive that the Holy Land was a good deal. Notice that even Moses questioned Gods will for him, if he trusted absolutely, he would not have sent the spies. There is hope for everyone.

The pomegranate tree belongs to the family Punicaceae, a small family. There are a lonesome two members, the pomegranate and Punica protopunica, a dwarfish version of the pomegranate. The biblical pomegranate, Punica granatum, isn’t a huge tree, on average it is about the size of a lilac bush. The leaves are thin and oblong and shiny, dark green. The dark green leaves are a perfect backdrop for the parrot orange blossoms and fire engine red fruits that follow. The trees may not be big in size, but they are big in the production department. Each tree can produce up to 50 of the big apple sized fruits which is about 6 big pitchers of bright red nectar! It factors into biblical life and legend in, oh, so many ways. To begin with it is thought to be the tree of life in the garden of Eden. The Early Christians used the fruit as a symbol of eternal life. That’s just a beginning. Here is a more comprehensive list.

The fruits image was used to decorate the Temple in Jerusalem and were embroidered on priestly clothing. Pomegranates were carved out of gold and used to decorate the temple and the Torah scrolls. (Exodus 2:33-34.) It was listed as one of the pleasant fruits in Egypt. (Numbers 20:5) It was listed as one of the promised blessings of Palestine. (Deuteronomy 8:8) A spiced wine was made of its juice and it was frequently mentioned in the Song of Solomon as a source of fertility.(Song 8:2) King Solomon’s crown was designed after the pomegranate fruit, the bottom of the fruit reveals the shape that which has become known as a “crown”. King Solomon was the first king to wear the crown we know and it was designed after the pomegranate.

The Israelites were not the only people to associate the plant with their religion. Many that came before them and after them saw the plant as pretty nifty. Let’s have a peak at what their neighbours were saying about the tree when they were fashioning objects of art in its likeness. Rimmon found in II Kings 5:18, was an Assyrian deity worshipped at Damascus. Raman, the Babylonian Adad, and the Assyrian Hadad were the gods of thunder and the tree sacred to them was none other than our little pomegranate. In Egypt it was considered sacred and was carved into Egyptian sculpture and can be seen in inscriptions in the great tombs. The Persia kings had gold pomegranates as the head of their sceptres.

On the other side of the Mediterranean, the Greeks associated it with the supernatural. Ancient depictions of Jupiter shows him carrying a pomegranate in his hand. In Greek mythology, Ceres, goddess of the earth, got real mad when Zeus gave her daughter Prosperine to Pluto to be his wife. Ceres left heaven in quite a state. Those that came across her were in for a surprise. If they were nice to her she blessed them, if they were not, she cursed them. She is said to have carried a personal blow torch and had the habit of starting forest fires when angry. Zeus was afraid she would scorch the whole planet by the time she was done and took Prosperine away from her husband and gave her back to her mother.

Pluto was not pleased and got Prosperine to eat a pomegranate that had been drugged. The drug made her return to hell, his home, six months out of every year. The myth says that we have six nice months when Prosperine is with her mother, and six nasty ones when she is visiting her husband. It is also said to have been sacred to Pluto. According to Atheneus, it was first tree planted in Greece by the goddess Aphrodite. It is also said to have sprung from the blood of Dionysius Zagreus. When you see Aphrodite associated with a plant, you know it has ties to fertility and love. See the Song of Songs for evidence to this effect.

Roman mythology states that the pomegranate came into being when a fortune teller told a nymph that she would wear a crown one day. Bacchus, god of the wine, thought he would play a trick on the royal hopeful and turned her into a pomegranate tree. The tree produces fruits that wear a crown on their bottom. I don’t think this was the crown the nymph had in mind.

It was raised in the gardens around Carthage. Darius Hystaspes, according to Herodotus, ate the fruit on a regular basis. Homer says the fruit was found growing in the gardens of Alcinous. The Romans brought the fruit from Carthage to Italy, which is why they called it Mala Punica, the Phoenician apple. Pliny talked about nine different varieties in his day. The tree is native to Asia and can be found growing from Pakistan to the far reaches of China. Its real home is thought to be northern India. It may not be native to the Mediterranean but it certainly is at home there.

As you know, the fruit was juiced and used to make a refreshing beverage. The rind was used in medicine and in the tanning of leathers. What chemicals do the rinds contain? Could it be tannins? Yes. Cordova, in Spain, was famous for the leathers the region produced. The Arabs that colonized that country brought with them the art of tanning. The tanners of Cordova used the peal of the pomegranate to harden animal skins and convert them into leather. This brings us to the medicinal uses of the plant.

The entire plant is considered medicinal in one way or the other. The rind of the fruit is the part most often used in medicine, and in tanning, as it contains a shocking 25% tannins by weight. That is a lot of tannins for any plant material. The root bark is equally rich in tannins. The tannins of the pomegranate are unique in the world of tannins and belong to a class of their own. Their tannins are called punico-tannic acids. One of the major uses of the plant has been to kill intestinal parasites. An alkaloid was discovered in the root bark, Pelletierine, in 1878. Pelletierine was proven to kill parasites that make themselves at home in the gut.

Maimonides felt that the pomegranate fruit was excellent for the stomach and that indeed all astringing substances were good for that important organ. “A sweet pomegranate has a wonderful quality when eaten with bread because this prevents illness in the stomach. The same is true of sour pomegranate in which food is cooked, such food does not cause damage in the stomach.”

In the book “Indian Plants and Drugs” the author recommends the rind of the fruit for diarrhoea and the root of the tree for treating tapeworm infestation. For the most part, pomegranate was used to treat digestive ills and we see this from our Indian source.

Diarrhoea: ” The pomegranate rind is a valuable astringent in diarrhoea and the advanced stages of dysentery. Usually administered in decoction which is prepared by boiling in a covered vessel two ounces of dried rind and 2 drachms of bruised cloves or cinnamon in a pint of water for fifteen minutes and straining. Of this, when cold the dose is one to two ounces of the fresh bark three or four times per day. In obstinate cases five drops of laudanum may be added to each dose.”

Tapeworm: “The powdered root is also similarly efficacious. The root bark, especially the fresh one, is a reliable remedy for the expulsion of taenia or tape worm. It is administered in decoction which is best made by digesting two ounces of the fresh bark and a little clove and reducing the stained liqueur by evaporation to ten ounces of it may also be prepared by boiling two ounces of the sliced fresh bark in to pints of water down to one pint and straining. This quantity should be given fasting early in the morning in doses of two ounces at intervals of an hour or two., the last dose being followed by an aperient and the worm is said to be expelled within 12 hours.”

As it turns out, the pomegranate bark is mentioned in the Egyptian Ebers papyrus as a treatment for worm infestation. It was used until the middle of this century around the world for the same purpose. The chemical isolated in the last century, pelletierine, along with related chemicals, iso-pelletierine, and n-methylated pseudopelletierine have been proven to kill those nasty invaders in the modern lab and in the modern gut. Worm infestation is still a problem globally and pomegranate peel is still used widely.

Northern Europeans only got their hands on the preserved plant material, namely dried rind, seeds, and syrup made from the fresh fruit. This syrup, grenadine, was popular first as a medicine in cooling temperatures. It pays to keep a bottle around in case anyone in the house is feeling unwell. In the ancient world, the juice was used to cool you off after a hot day or when an infection was causing a temperature. Of course Gerard has something to say about the plant.

Reduces temperatures: “The seed of the graines, and especially of the sower pomegranate, being dried, do likewise coole and binde.”

Stops diarrhoea: “They stop the flix, stay vomiting, and stanch the spitting of bloud, they strengthen the stomacke.”

Astringes or Tightens tissue: They fasten the teeth, and strengthen the gums , if the same be washed therewith. They are good against bursting that come by falling downe of the guts, if they be used in plaisters and applied.

Cures tonsillitis: The rinde or pill is not onely like in facultie to the seeds, and both the sorts of the flowers, but also more available, for it cooleth and bindeth more forcibly, it bringeth down hot swellings of the almonds in the throat, being used in gargarisme, or a lotion for the throat, and it is a singular remedy for all things that need cooling and binding.

Gerard’s perception of pomegranate was that it was an astringing and cooling drug. He recommends it for loose tissue in need of a little tightening, as in the case of tonsillitis or bad gums. Remember, I mentioned the use of oak bark to treat recurring tonsillitis and that tonsils lacking tone were more liable to infection? Here we see the same use of tannins to improve the tone of tonsils and other tissues. The astringent quality, according to Gerard and others, makes it drying in diarrhoea and dysentery.

Dysentery is not the killer today it was 100 years ago. The condition is caused by a bacteria known as shigella dysenteriae. The bacteria moves into the gut and causes all kinds of problems, not least of which, horrific diarrhoea that can kill a child in a day. The bacteria was a problem for the Israelites and they no doubt used pomegranate rind to dry the symptoms of the disease. In II Chronicles 21:18 we find these lovely lines, “And after all this the lord smote him in the bowels with an incurable disease. And it came to pass, after the end of two years, his bowels fell out by reason of his sickness, so he died of sore disease.” In Matthew 9:20, Mark 5:25, and Luke 8:43, we read of a women afflicted with a bloody flux, which is another name for dysentery.

Tannins dry up the gut so the diarrhoea stops, but, they also kill the bacteria that cause the problem in the first place. Is tea made out of pomegranate peal a nice beverage? No. Simply put, it tastes vile. But if you have diarrhoea, a tea made of pomegranate peal will make it stop. It is not commercially available any more. One would have to buy a pomegranate at the market and save the peel. It should be cut into small pieces and dried at a low heat in the oven until hard as a rock. The pieces can then be ground in a coffee grinder into a fine powder and stored until it is needed. A teaspoon of this powder added to a cup of hot water makes an excellent gargle in tonsillitis, gum disease, and taken internally in the occasional digestive upset. I said excellent, not tasty, so be prepared.

If you check around, you might find real grenadine syrup for sale. I can usually find it at Arab markets as people from the Middle East are rather fond of it. As I mentioned, grenadine syrup is pomegranate juice that has been cooked down. The flavour is wonderful and when added to a glass of seltzer water, the most exciting beverage is concocted. It will cool a person down in the summer and do the same in feverish conditions. Unlike some medicine, getting a kid to drink a glass of grenadine water will not be hard! Make a pitcher of grenadine fizzy water and you will be enjoying a very ancient beverage.



COPYRIGHT 2010 DoctorSchar.com