What Should We Know About Ellagic Acid?

Tao Newsletter

What is ellagic acid?

Ellagic acid is a phyto (plant) chemical found in raspberries, strawberries, walnuts, pomegrantes and several other berries and nuts. People who increase their consumption of food high in ellagic acid may be able to ward off certain types of illnesses and diseases as it has anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties.

How does ellagic acid work?

Ellagic acid supports the body in fighting viral, fungal, yeast and bacterial infections. Ellagic acid inhibits the viral enzyme integrase which many viruses use to enter our cells and replicate. It inhibits the viral enzyme gyrase which bacteria need to support their DNA; by suppressing this enzyme, bacteria die.

It also inhibits the fungal and yeast enzyme chitin-synthase which fungi use to build their cell walls and spread in the body. There are no negative health effects from the inhibition of these enzymes as they are not human enzymes.

Ellagic Acid and Cancer Discussion

Ellagic acid may have some anti-cancer properties; it can act as a potent anti-oxidant and has been found to cause cancer cell death in the laboratory.

How does ellagic acid work on cancer cell?
It stimulates a process known as apoptosis that causes abnormal cells to self-destruct. Anti-oxidants can protect cells from free radical damage and promote healthy cell regeneration. There is some evidence to suggest that it may prevent the binding of carcinogens to DNA.

The American Cancer Society reports that Ellagic acid may decrease the number of cancer cells and the rate of cancer cell growth. Ellagic acid may also help to reduce heart disease.

The Hollings Cancer Institute at the University of South Carolina has conducted a nine-year study of Ellagic acid and found that Ellagic acid may be useful in stopping cancer cell division and facilitating cancer cell death in the cases of some cancers. Clinical tests on cultured human cells also show that Ellagic acid prevents the destruction of the p53 gene by cancer cells. The p53 gene is known as the tumor suppressor gene.

The researches from Breast Cancer Research Program at City of Hope in Duarte, Calif.  report ellagic acid, the phytochemical,  found in pomegranates reduce the risk that women will develop hormone-dependent breast cancers.  It inhibits aromatase, an enzyme linked to the development of estrogen-responsive breast cancer.

More studies are needed, Gary Stoner, a professor in the department of internal medicine at Ohio State University, said in the same news release. "It's not clear that these levels could be achieved in animals or in humans" because the chemicals may not be easily absorbed from food.
Still, he said, people "might consider consuming more pomegranates to protect against cancer development in the breast and perhaps in other tissues and organs."

Ellagic Acid and Skin Health Research

“Researchers in Korea applied ellagic acid found in raspberries, strawberries, cranberries and pomegranates, to human skin cells in the lab and to the skin of hairless mice that had been exposed to strong, ultraviolet rays.
In human skin cells, ellagic acid protects against ultraviolet damage by blocking production of matrix metalloproteinase enzymes that break down collagen and reduce the expression of ICAM, a molecule involved with inflammation.
For eight weeks, 12 hairless mice were exposed three times a week to increasing ultraviolet radiation. The exposure would have been strong enough to cause sunburn and skin damage in humans, according to the researchers, from Hallym University in South Korea.
Half of the exposed mice were given daily topical applications of ellagic acid, even on the days in which they did not receive UV exposure. Ellagic acid was not applied to the other mice.
The mice that did not receive ellagic acid developed wrinkles and thickening of the skin that indicates sun damage.
The mice that received the ellagic acid showed less wrinkle formation, according to the study.”

1. “Pomegranate May Fight Some Breast Cancers “ by Randy Dotinga - January issue of Cancer  Prevention Research

2. “Compound in Berries May Lessen Sun Damage” by Jennifer Thomas. http://www.bidmc.org - website of a teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School

3. American Cancer Society :
http://www.cancer.org/Treatment/TreatmentsandSideEffects/ ComplementaryandAlternativeMedicine/DietandNutrition/ellagic-acid

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