Pomegranate peel traditional uses in Bulgarian alternative medicine.
Pomegranate tree is a deciduous tree that grows in the southeast part of my country,which happens to be the area in which I was born.The tree itself is very compact ,but also has many spines hidden between the green leaves.It blooms with scarlet red flowers ,which have funny looking tubular shape, in early summer.Fruits appear later in the summer and are usually ready to pick in the end of September.The Botanical name of the plant is Punica granatum ,and the Latin name of the peel is cortex Punicae granati fructibus.
In this particular post, I am going to explain how the peel has been used by my ancestors in last thousand years and how my family and myself keep using it to this day.This information is part of our traditional healing wisdom passed down to me from my greatgrandmother. Our Elders as many other Elders all around the world did not grow up on synthetic medicines and vaccines.They were poor people, they had to heal themselves with whatever was ready available to them ,and additionally did not cost a fortune to obtain.Nobody really knows how they realized that the peel of the pomegranate is as much useful as the pulp ,but my guess is that this knowledge came to exist through trial.
Eventually ,people realized that dried peel of the fruit ,when boiled as infusion has anti-inflammatory properties ,and helps in cases of stomach and colon inflammatory processes and irritations .The peel contains around 20 % tannins(polyphenols).The reason why a plant contains tannins in their bark and in some cases peel is to fight bacteria ,therefore they have astringent effects.Also tannins suck out and fight harmful substances released from the sting of some animals like bees* ,at same time they also counteract alkaloids(many alkaloids are poisonous for humans).So far I mentioned what my Elders had passed to me as knowledge ,but let discover next what science has to say, when it comes to the ancient wisdom known about the peel of this wonderful fruit.
Scientific research in China.
Scientists in China at the Institute of Hygiene and Environmental Medicine performed tests on the peels vs. the pulp to see what levels of specific antioxidants and vitamins were contained in each.The results were intriguing and they did show that the peel contained more antioxidant than the pulp.Moreover the antioxidant active levels of the peel were higher than the pulp.The antioxidants in the peel were more active to prevent the oxidation of the LDL (the bad cholesterol).We all know that the bad cholesterol can have devastating effect on the coronary arteries if it builds up too much as a plaque in them.In short, if your coronary arteries can not feed your heart with blood you will have heart attack.Coronary arteries are not the only ones that are affected by the bad cholesterol.The function of your internal organs and especially your liver are also under risk too.A healthy person should strive to have higher HDL (good cholesterol) and antioxidants play a role in this process.They can protect against DNA damage , therefore prevent eventual cancer.
Anyway,we will discuss the use of the pulp and another active parts of the plant in another post with more details.
I hope you understood by now that the peel of the fruit ,which most of us usually throw as a rubbish in the bin, is even more precious than the pulp we tend to consume.Keep the peel and use it!In case that you want to get the best from your peel you need to know when to pick the fruit and how exactly to dry the peel.
How to dry my pomegranate peel?
Make sure you pick the right fruit for the task in order to gain the most benefit it can offer.Make sure your pomegranate is well ripe but not to the stage to start decaying.Once you eat the pulp cut it in middle size pieces and place them on the top of your brown grocery shopping bag.You can use newspapers ,but the ink might stain the peels ,while they are still wet.In order to avoid humidity make sure you have washed and dried the fruit before eating it; do not wash afterwards.Make sure you spread the pieces evenly and leave place between them.This will allow air flow and will prevent cross-contamination, should one of them develop mold.
The reason why we use paper is because it" breaths" ,which is not the case with plastic.Professional herbalists use special wooden frames to dry their herbs.Make sure that the peel is placed in cool (not freezing or too cold) not too sunny place.Direct sun and heat cause the breakdown of the active components in the plant material rendering them not very useful.Another method that is used from my people is to use big needle and organic type of string (anything that is made from fiber derived from plant) to string the pieces and then the string is hanged on the ceiling or in front shadowy window or veranda.You can use flannel ,but keep in mind that you can stain it ,because pomegranate juice does stain !
How do I know if I dried them correctly ?
Look at the color of your final product.The peel should have retained its red-yellow color from outside and should be white inside.It should smell nice not like mold.In case the peel is humid ,black colored and smelling funny discard immediately.
How to store the dried peel?
Traditionally we use small bags made from jute ,because they can "breath" and as long as there is air circulation the peel will not get moldy.In case you decide to use jar ,make sure it can be closed very tightly.I have had many cases when I lost herbs due to too loose jar lid.Preferably the jar/container should be made from dark glass(amber,darkgreen,blue) ,but if it is normal keep it in dark and cool place.It is good idea to sterilize the jar before filling it and dry it very carefully.Make sure you put a date on the batch ,because it is the best to use your herbs within three months period.Do not use plastic containers!
How to use the peel ?
1.Use it to prepare herbal infusion(tea)for stomachache.If combined with ginger and Tulsi (Holly Basil) can be used it as a cough remedy(Ayrveda).
2.You can grind it and make a powder that can be used in homemade cosmetics or soaps as exfoliating agent.The powder also can be used as tooth powder.
3.It can be used as a fabric dye or to stain paper.
4.The powder can be used in your cooking and also as antioxidant supplement for you and even some animals like cattle(bovine or representatives of the genus Bos).
Attention! Make sure that the fruit and the entire plant has not been sprayed with heavy amounts and pesticides and herbicides.
Make sure you do not wear your favorite white Prada dress ,while peeling and eating the fruit.The juice stain and it probably not come off your favorite garment.Wear apron or some old cloths that you will not mind throwing away or staining.
In case that you wonder how to peel the fruit there are numerous videos on youtube that explain the process.
Disclaimer:The author if this thread does not have official herbal education ,but rather has been told by her ancestors in oral form.The author has passed college exam in human anatomy and physiology ,but it is not general medical practitioner.Furthermore the author does not know how the infusion of the pomegranate peel can interact with your prescribed medication (of any sort).Before using any herbal remedies,please contact your general practitioner for any possible side effects related with your medical condition and make sure you bring with you all medication you drink ,so they are taken under consideration too.The author has used the remedy without side effects ,however she might not necessary have the same medical disorders and history as yours.Consultation with professional herbalist is always advised in case such option is available and affordable.
*In case that you are allergic to bee sting seek immediate medical help ,do not count on any herbal remedies to save you.
Anaphylaxis is extremely serious condition and anaphylactic shock can have lethal effects, within few minutes.
To be continued....