Studies show pomegranate supplement slows neurodegenerative diseases

Everybody knows that the pomegranate is a superfood. One of the seven native fruits of Israel, pomegranates are packed with health-promoting and healing antioxidants and vitamins.

Now, an Israeli supplement derived from pomegranate seed oil has proven helpful in improving cognitive function in multiple sclerosis patients experiencing cognitive difficulties associated with the disease.

Prof. Dimitrios Karussis, the internationally renowned director of the Multiple Sclerosis Center at Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical Center in Jerusalem, found significant improvement in learning ability and text comprehension, word recall and categorization in 30 patients involved in a groundbreaking study of the patented GranaGard supplement.

This is just the latest study showing benefits of this over-the-counter supplement. It is not a cure — nerve cell damage is irreversible – but GranaGard seems to prevent or slow neurodegeneration and even reduce symptoms caused by neurodegenerative diseases or aging.

The story behind GranaGard begins with Hadassah senior researcher Ruth Gabizon, an experimental neurologist.

Several years ago, Gabizon had great results using an Israeli face cream from Lavido containing pomegranate seed oil. She learned that the active ingredient in the oil is punicic acid, a powerful antioxidant.

Hadassah senior researcher Prof. Ruth Gabizon. Photo by FLASH90

She wondered how this unique polyunsaturated fatty acid (also known as Omega 5) might help her engineered lab mice, which are predisposed to developing the fatal neurodegenerative disorder Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

Hoping to prevent the oxidation that causes permanent neuron damage triggering such diseases, Gabizon had been seeking a safe, inexpensive lipid-based antioxidant to protect brain cells. Punicic acid seemed a good candidate.

“I came into my lab one morning and said to my students, ‘We’re going to give this to our transgenic mice,’” Gabizon told ISRAEL21c in an interview in 2018.

Normally, oils don’t get past the liver. To make the pomegranate seed oil bioavailable to the brain, Gabizon turned to nanotechnology expert Shlomo Magdassi of Hebrew University’s Casali Center for Applied Chemistry. Magdassi met that challenge by breaking the oil down into nanodrops that travel easily through the bloodstream.

Nanotech expert Prof. Shlomo Magdassi of Hebrew University. Photo by FLASH90

The formula’s preventive effects in Gabizon’s mice so impressed Magdassi and Gabizon that they’ve both taken it for the past four years as a general wellbeing tonic.

In late 2016, the two scientists cofounded Granalix Biotechnologies to market the formulation as a food supplement.

Made with punicic acid-rich pomegranate seed oil from Israeli sources, GranaGard is manufactured by Israel’s SupHerb as a soft gelcap. The product is sold worldwide through the Granalix website, through distributors in South America and Europe, and in select Israeli pharmacies.

Cracking the mysteries of pomegranate seed oil

Gabizon’s lab has researched and published studies on the mechanism of GranaGard.

A paper in Nature explains that the liver converts punicic acid from pomegranate seed oil into conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a strong antioxidant known to inhibit an enzyme associated with the onset of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

“In the brains of people with neurodegenerative diseases, the mitochondria – the energy center of the cell – is stressed,” Gabizon explains. “The antioxidant restores mitochondrial activity to a normal level.”

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