Ellagic acid is a naturally-occurring antioxidant found primarily in fruits and vegetables, including but not limited to: strawberries, walnuts, cranberries, raspberries and pomegranites.
It is created from the antioxidant compounds known as tannins, which form ellagic acid when they come into contact with water.
Ellagic acid in combination with glucose makes a water-soluble compound that is easily absorbed by the body.
Ellagic acid is the main active ingredient in the popular Ayurvedic medication.
Highly effective for body and might be for cancer
Research indicates that amongst its other potential health benefits, ellagic acid may slow the growth of some types of cancer.
Though further research is needed into the efficacy and potential mechanic of this action.
It is thought that ellagic acid may be utilized by the liver in the removal of carcinogenic substances from the body, many of which have the potential to cause various kinds of cancer.
The antioxidant properties of it mean that it is able to combat harmful free radicals in the body and therefore protect various key systems including the cardiovascular system and the nervous system, as well as the digestive system.
It has also been used variously to treat heart problems, liver disease and certain birth defects, and to speed the recovery after suffering some flesh-wounds.
One study found that regular supplementation of the diet with pomegranate juice, which contains a high content of ellagic acid, may help to remove plaque from arteries and therefore reduce the risk of heart disease.
How to take it?
A healthy daily amount of it can be gleaned from regular servings of fruit and vegetables, particularly strawberries, raspberries and pomegranates.
However, many people prefer the convenience and certainty of a supplement either on its own or as part of some multivitamin or multi-supplement formula.
It is available either in liquid or capsule form, or in the form of a powder that can be dissolved in a drink.
Ellagic acid and science
Phytochemicals are chemicals that are produced naturally by plants, and are thought to be responsible for many of the healing properties depended on by herbal healers and medical types through the centuries.
Investigations into the mechanism and properties of phytochemicals are still at an early stage, but we know that ellagic acid is one such substance, and may have further medical uses as yet unrealized by doctors.
In terms of modern medicine, it came to prominence during the middle part of the twentieth century as a blood clotting agent, and was widely deployed in hospitals and clinics as such.
During the latter part of the century, some studies came to light indicating the possible role of ellagic acid in anti-cancer treatments, and since then its popularity as a dietary supplement has skyrocketed.
Some of these studies have indicated that ellagic acid plays a role in inhibiting the growth of tumors in the skin, lung, throat, and other tissues.
The mechanics of those are still undergoing extensive investigation, but it is thought at this time that the ellagic acid may help to prevent the tumors from growing new blood vessels, effectively starving them of the oxygen they need to keep growing.
Another study at the Holling´s Institute for cancer research found that it works by binding itself to receptors in certain genes, thereby preventing carcinogenic elements from attaching themselves to those sites, and preventing the alteration or destruction of the gene.
These findings are currently being built on by further investigations into the exact mechanism of ellagic acid as a cancer prevention and treatment agent.
As well as this potential use as a targeted cancer therapy, it also has positive aspects to its role as a medicinal substance.
A study of men undergoing chemotherapy treatment for cancer shows a decrease in the incidence of side-effects for those who were given regular doses of ellagic acid.
Much more helpful when available in regular diets
Doctors agree that, though much is still to be learned about ellagic acid, it is probably most beneficial when taken in conjunction with a healthy balanced diet, including all of the essential vitamins and minerals the body needs, and for this reason it is a popular addition to many multivitamin formulas and other combination supplements.
It is not thought that overdosing on a particular source of ellagic acid, for example pomegranate juice, will produce improved beneficial effects.
People taking other forms of medication should consult their doctor before beginning to supplement their daily diet with ellagic acid in whatever form.
This is partly because some people may experience an allergic reaction to the compound, but primarily because it may have an effect on the liver which alters the way in which other medication is absorbed and used by the body.
It is also possible that a person may be allergic to the original source of the acid, for example pomegranates, and in this case the potential health benefits probably do not outweigh the potential risks at this point in time.
If you experience any side-effects after taking ellagic acid, you should stop taking any further doses and consult your doctor immediately.