Medical Herbs Catalogue



Botanical Name: Punica granatum (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Lythraceae

Synonyms: Grenadier. Cortex granati. Ecorce de Granade. Granatwurzelrinde. Melogranato. Malicorio. Scorzo del Melogranati. Cortezade Granada.
Parts Used: The root, bark, the fruits, the rind of the fruit, the flowers.
Habitat: Western Asia. Now grows widely in Mediterranean countries, China and Japan.

History: The Latin name of the tree was Malus punica, or Punicum Malum, the Lybian or Carthaginian apple; while the name of granatum was bestowed on account of its many seeds. Having no close relations, the tree has been placed by various authorities in different orders, some giving it an order of its own, Granateae.

Description: It is a small tree, not more than 15 feet high, with pale, brownish bark. The buds and young shoots are red, the leaves opposite, lanceolate, entire, thick, glossy and almost evergreen. The flowers are large and solitary, the crimson petals alternating with the lobes of the calyx. The fruit is the size of an orange, having a thick, reddish-yellow rind, an acid pulp, and large quantities of seeds.

The dried root bark is found in quills 3 to 4 inches long. It is yellowish-grey and wrinkled outside, the inner bark being smooth and yellow. It has a short fracture, little odour and a slightly astringent taste.

The rind of the fruit is in curved, brittle fragments, rough and yellowish-brown outside, paler and pitted within. It is called Malicorium.

The fruit is used for dessert, and in the East the juice is included in cooling drinks.

The flowers yield a red dye, and with leaves and seeds were used by the Ancients as astringent medicines and to remove worms.

The Pomegranate is mentioned in the Papyrus Ebers.

It is still used by the Jews in some ceremonials, and as a design has been used in architecture and needlework from the earliest times. It formed part of the decoration of the pillars of King Solomon's Temple, and was embroidered on the hem of the High-Priest's ephod.

There are three kinds of Pomegranates: one very sour, the juice of which is used instead of verjuice, or unripe grape juice; the other two moderately sweet or very sweet. These are (in Syria) eaten as dessert after being cut open, seeded, strewn with sugar and sprinkled with rosewater. A wine is extracted from the fruits, and the seeds are used in syrups and conserves.

The bark is used in tanning and dyeing giving the yellow hue to Morocco leather.

The barks of three wild Pomegranates are said to be used in Java: the red-flowered merah, the white-flowered poetih, and the black-flowered hitam.

Constituents: The chief constituent of the bark (about 22 per cent) is called punicotannic acid. It also contains gallic acid, mannite, and four alkaloids, Pelletierine, Methyl-Pelletierine, Pseudo-Pelletierine, and IsoPelletierine.

The liquid pelletierine boils at 125 degrees C., and is soluble in water, alcohol, ether and chloroform.

The drug probably deteriorates with age.

The rind contains tannic acid, sugar and gum.

Pelletierine Tannate is a mixture of the tannates of the alkaloids obtained from the bark of the root and stem, and represents the taenicidal properties.

Medicinal Action and Uses: The seeds are demulcent. The fruit is a mild astringent and refrigerant in some fevers, and especially in biliousness, and the bark is used to remove tapeworm.

In India the rind is used in diarrhoea and chronic dysentery, often combined with opium.

It is used as an injection in leucorrhoea, as a gargle in sore throat in its early stages, and in powder for intermittent fevers. The flowers have similar properties.

As a taenicide a decoction of the bark may be made by boiling down to a pint 2 OZ. of bark that has been macerated in spirits of water for twenty-four hours, and given in wineglassful doses. It often causes nausea and vomiting, and possibly purging. It should be preceded by strict dieting and followed by an enema or castor oil if required.It may be necessary to repeat the dose for several days.

A hypodermic injection of the alkaloids may produce vertigo, muscular weakness and sometimes double vision.

The root-bark was recommended as a vermifuge by Celsus, Dioscorides and Pliny. It may be used fresh or dried.

Dosages: Of rind and flowers in powder, 20 to 30 grains. Of pelletierine tannate, 3 to 5 grains. Of rind, 1 to 2 drachms. Fluid extract, root-bark, 1/4 to 2 drachms. Decoction, B.P., 1/2 to 2 OZ. Of decoction of 4 OZ. of bark to 20 of water, 1/2 a fluid ounce.

Adulterations: The bitter but non-astringent barks of Barberry and Box (Boxux sempervirens). Their infusion does not produce the deep blue precipitate with a persalt of iron.

Pinana is a dwarf variety naturalized in the West Indies.