Can pomegranates cure epilepsy?

The current medical cure for epilepsy comprises about two dozen drugs
Last Updated 20 October 2021, 10:30 IST

Six years ago, scientists from the state discovered that drinking pomegranate juice increases longevity. That finding was subsequently recognised by the US National Institutes of Health. Ongoing research by the team has now resulted in another important discovery: a potential cure for epilepsy.

The “secret sauce” in this case is a specific compound of pomegranate which shows strident reversals of epilepsy in animal studies.

“Studies across the world are showing the ingestion of pomegranate has neural benefits. This is a research field that is gaining traction especially in the US which already has 15 patents on extracts, but none of the international efforts has focused on a potential application to treat epilepsy, which is where our work has been,” explained Dr Upendra Nongthomba, Professor of Developmental and Biomedical Genetics at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), a senior researcher of the project.

The current medical cure for epilepsy comprises about two dozen drugs which are required to be taken without interruption for three to five years. However, not all of them work. Dr Nongthomba specified that only four drugs are commonly prescribed.

This was confirmed by Muralidharan K V, president, Bengaluru branch of the Indian Epilepsy Association. “Only when the symptoms of the condition reduce can a one be weaned off the drugs. If the dosage is interrupted prematurely, the treatment duration renews,” Muralidharan said.

When compared to these conventional drugs, studies at IISc using Drosophila (fruit flies) showed that the extract of pomegranate could be more effective. “The mechanism is quite amazing. Within six hours of this compound having been administered, a reversal of the cellular damage was observed in the test flies,” Dr Nongthomba said.

“The crux of our research is understanding the mechanism of how this compound improves neural pathways,” he added.

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(Published 19 October 2021, 19:16 IST)

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