The Durk Pearson & Sandy Shaw®
Life Extension NewsTM
Volume 9 No.
2 • April 2006
Pomegranate Juice Improves Myocardial Perfusion in Patients with Coronary Heart Disease
We have written several articles in recent newsletters on the newly discovered health benefits of pomegranate juice, which include (as discussed in our last issue) reducing macrophage cholesterol synthesis by 50% in cell culture and inhibiting the angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) activity by 36% and systolic blood pressure by 5% in ten hypertensive patients drinking about 2 oz of pure pomegranate juice per day for 2 weeks. [2 oz of 100% pomegranate juice corresponds to 8 oz/day of the commercially available “Diet” Langers, with 25% juice and reduced sugar (8 g per 8 oz).]
A recent study reports on the results of pomegranate juice consumption by 45 patients with coronary artery disease, half of whom (after randomization) got a placebo drink while the other half drank 240 ml (a little less than 10 ounces) of undiluted pomegranate juice for 3 months. The patients were subject to exercise treadmill testing (for those unable to perform this test, a pharmacologic stress test using adenosine or dipyridamole was performed) to evaluate the induction of myocardial ischemia.
The researchers report that “At baseline, the 2 groups showed similar levels of inducible ischemia (SDS). After 3 months, the extent of stress-induced ischemia decreased in the experimental group but increased in the control group. This benefit was observed without changes in cardiac medications or revascularization in either group. … Angina episodes decreased by 50% in the experimental group (from 0.26 to 0.13) but increased by 38% in the control group (from 0.53 to 0.75), although this difference was not statistically significant.” This was a very small trial (26 subjects drank pomegranate juice while 19 subjects received the placebo drink), so it did not have enough statistical power to be able to determine whether there was a real change in angina episodes as a result of treatment, or just a chance effect. Interestingly, the paper reports that “One patient in each group developed rhabdoid myalgia [muscle damage and pain] after being prescribed statin medications, and these were discontinued.”
The paper further reports that there was “an average improvement of 17% in myocardial perfusion in the experimental group and an average worsening of 18% in the control group (i.e., a 35% relative between-group difference) after only 3 months.” There were no negative effects on lipids, blood glucose, hemoglobin A1c (glycated hemoglobin), body weight, or blood pressure. As the authors note, “neither grape juice nor red wine has been shown to improve ischemia in humans who have CHD.” Of course, these effects will need to be verified in a larger trial.
This is not a cardiovascular preventive effect; it is a potential treatment effect, yet the FDA allows no communication to the general public of information concerning disease treatment (not even in health claims) with foods or dietary supplements (at least by those entities they regulate, which includes those that offer pomegranate juice products in interstate commerce). The FDA considers such information to be drug information, therefore illegal to communicate without spending hundreds of millions of dollars to receive FDA’s approval to sell pomegranate juice as a drug. We consider the FDA’s position to be a threat to the public health and a violation of the First Amendment (“Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech”) and therefore a usurpation of our constitutional freedoms, and unacceptable in a free society. To have to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to communicate truthful, nonmisleading information is to hold free speech hostage.
- Sumner et al. Effects of pomegranate juice consumption on myocardial perfusion in patients with coronary heart disease. Am J Cardiol 96:810-14 (2005).