Posted 23 January 2013

Pomegranate is being marketed as effective for a range of health conditions. Are the claims true?

In the USA, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), has struck at a seller of pomegranate juice and supplements for claiming that the product is effective, among other, for preventing or treating heart disease, prostate cancer, and erectile dysfunction. The FTC bases its actions on science i.e., evaluating whether the evidence for the claims are justified by good evidence or not. 


FTC clips pomegranate product marketers  

The Federal Trade Commission has upheld and expanded an Administrative Law Judge’s decision that marketers of POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice and POMx supplements:

(a) deceptively advertised their products and

(b) did not have adequate support for claims that their products were effective in preventing or treating heart disease, prostate cancer, and erectile dysfunction.

In 2010, the FTC had charged the marketers with making false and unsubstantiated claims. [FTC complaint charges deceptive advertising by POM Wonderful: Agency proceedings will determine whether health claims for pomegranate products are false and not supported by scientific evidence. FTC news release, Sept 27, 2010]

In 2012, after an Administrative Law Judge sided with the FTC, the marketers appealed to the full Commission. On January 10, 2013, the Commission issued a Final Order barring POM’s marketers from making efficacy claims for any food, drug, or supplement that are not supported by randomized, well-controlled, human clinical trials. [FTC Commissioners uphold trial judge decision that POM Wonderful, LLC; Stewart and Lynda Resnick; others deceptively advertised pomegranate products by making unsupported health claims. FTC news release, Jan 16, 2013]

2 comments to Pomegranate

  • gerhard

    Perhaps a few SCIENTIFIC studies might actually be considered as a source rather than opinionated nonsense from the mainstream media?

    Pubmed study:Potent health effects of pomegranate

    Abstract: Accumulating data clearly claimed that Punica granatum L. (pomegranate) has several health benefits. Pomegranates can help prevent or treat various disease risk factors including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, oxidative stress, hyperglycemia, and inflammatory activities.

    Pubmed study:Pomegranate juice: a heart-healthy fruit juice.

    Abstract: Pomegranate juice is a polyphenol-rich fruit juice with high antioxidant capacity. In limited studies in human and murine models, pomegranate juice has been shown to exert significant antiatherogenic, antioxidant, antihypertensive, and anti-inflammatory effects

    • Harris

      It is important to read these studies in context. The first concludes: “Although many in vitro, animal and clinical trials have been carried out to examine and prove the therapeutic effects of these compounds, further human trials and studies are necessary to understand the therapeutic potentials of pomegranate.” The second: “Thus, the potential cardioprotective benefits of pomegranate juice deserve further clinical investigation, and evidence to date suggests it may be prudent to include this fruit juice in a heart-healthy diet.”

      Both indicate that there is preliminary evidence to support claims but that “further clinical investigation” needs to be conducted before these claims be adequately justified. Furthermore, the FDA/FTC charged “the makers of POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice and POMx supplements with making false and unsubstantiated claims that their products will prevent or treat heart disease, prostate cancer, and erectile dysfunction“.

      Furthermore, one has to look at ALL the studies. Here are two meta analysis, one on plasma CRP levels: “In conclusion, this meta-analysis of data from 5 prospective trials did not indicate a significant effect of PJ on plasma CRP levels, and this effect was independent of duration of supplementation”, the other on lipid profiles: “The present meta-analysis of RCTs did not suggest any effect of pomegranate consumption on lipid profile in human.”

      Here is a review of studies on blood pressure and cardiovascular health: “More clinical research is needed as a number of the studies discussed include small sample sizes and few studies seem to have been undertaken in the recent 5-10 years”.

      The Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database (“Unbiased, Scientific Clinical Information on Complementary, Alternative, and Integrative Therapies”) states for pomegranate:
      Coronary heart disease. Preliminary clinical research shows that drinking pomegranate juice (POM Wonderful) 240 mL daily for 3 months decreases stress-induced myocardial ischemia in patients with coronary heart disease. The average improvement in myocardial perfusion was about 17% with pomegranate juice compared with an 18% worsening of myocardial perfusion in patients treated with placebo (13691). However, other preliminary clinical research shows that drinking pomegranate juice (POM Wonderful) 240 mL daily does not significantly reduce coronary stenosis as measured by carotid intima-media thickness compared to control after 18 months of treatment in patients with moderate coronary heart disease risk (17329). It is not known if drinking pomegranate juice can prevent or reduce the risk of a myocardial infarction or other cardiovascular outcomes.
      Hypertension. There is preliminary evidence that drinking pomegranate juice 50-200 mL/day for up to one year can reduce systolic blood pressure by 5% to 21% (8310,13023,69374). Also, drinking this amount of pomegranate juice may also decrease diastolic blood pressure (69373,69374), although conflicting evidence exists (13023). However, drinking pomegranate juice 240-300 mL daily for up to 3 months does not seem to improve blood pressure (13691,69372).”

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