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By Dawn Shipley Rodriguez, Registered Aromatherapist

Pomegranate (Punica granatum) seed oil has been one of my favorites for years for its thick, luxurious feel, delicate pleasant scent, and noticeably nourishing benefits. The fruit, named for the Latin pomum (apple) and granatus (seeded),¹ is considered a superfood² and the oil derived from the seeds is pretty super as well. Boasting a unique fatty acid profile and much more, it is a great addition to any aromatherapist’s toolkit. If you’ve not used this oil before, you’re in for a real treat when you do. 

The pomegranate (Punica granatum) fruit, which is technically a berry, grows to the size of an orange or grapefruit with its rounded hexagonal shape and thick reddish skin over a mass of around 600 seeds. It grows on a deciduous shrub reaching five to eight feet in height with glossy, narrow, oblong leaves and red flowers that often have five petals (though possibly more when cultivated). It used to belong to its own family, Punicaceae, but has been reclassified into the Lythraceae family of flowering plants. The shrub is native to areas of Iran and the Himalayas in northern India, and now is also cultivated throughout the Mediterranean, regions of Southeast Asia, Malaysia, the East Indies, tropical Africa, California and Arizona.²

The pomegranate (Punica granatum) has been highly regarded and used symbolically in many cultures and religions for more than 4000 years. It’s seen in stories of Hera and Persephone in Greek mythology,³ in the Book of Exodus, Torah and Quran, and even in Egyptian tombs, including King Tut’s.⁴ It is also thought to be one of the first plants cultivated for its beneficial properties based on excavations of the Early Bronze Age (3500-2000 BC).⁵

The oil is extracted through cold pressing the seeds of the fruit, though now there is a CO2 extracted version as well that has a longer shelf life than the cold pressed oil. It can be yellow to reddish in color with a light characteristic scent⁶ that I find sort of sweet and nutty and a note of a fresh yeast-like scent. 

Chemical Make-Up

Pomegranate (Punica granatum) seed oil’s uniqueness starts with punicic acid, an omega-5 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acid which contains three conjugated double bonds giving it an unusual form that causes the oil to feel thick and rich on the skin and aids in its effective delivery to the tissues. It can balance pH, condition the surface of the skin, and act as an anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and cell regenerator. Punicic acid is named for the pomegranate, in which it was found, and the concentration is the highest. It is almost exclusive to the pomegranate, though it can be found in two gourd seeds as well.⁷

Fatty Acid Profile:

  • punicic acid: 70-76%
  • linoleic acid: 7%
  • oleic acid: 5.7%
  • palmitic acid: 2%
  • stearic acid: 1.3-2%
  • gadoleic acid: trace.⁸

Don’t think that the amazing content stops there, though. Pomegranate (Punica granatum) seed oil contains roughly 93mg/kg of total polyphenols, 59mg/kg of flavonoids, 30mg/kg of O-Diphenols, 3mg/kg B-Carotene.⁹ The polyphenols include ellagic and gallic acids involved in supporting and maintaining collagen and healing wounds respectively.¹⁰ Tocopherol content, which protects against free radicals and may also have an anti-inflammatory effect on the skin,¹¹ is 177mg/100g, which is mostly comprised of γ-tocopherol at 153mg/100g. While total sterol content is around 539mg/100g, most being β-sitosterol at 374mg/100g, which have been shown to help decrease lipid peroxidation and more.¹²

Therapeutic Properties

As mentioned, pomegranate (Punica granatum) was thought to be one of the first plants cultivated for its beneficial properties. Traditionally the leaves, seeds, juice, flowers, bark and roots were all used for their various effects, of which some of the most important are lowering fever, treating diabetes, diarrhea and ulcers, as well as stopping bleeding and acting as a blood tonic.¹³

Present uses for the oil include both topical and internal. The oil’s main features are its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity, resulting from inhibition of lipid per oxidation and neutrophil-activation and more. As well as providing exogenous antioxidants, studies have shown the oil to elevate levels of endogenous antioxidants glutathione (GSH) and superoxide dismutase (SOD). Studies have also shown inhibition of cyclooxygenase (COX), lipoxygenase (LOX), prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), aiding the anti-inflammatory effect. 

Systemic benefits include neuroprotective activity, decrease in insulin resistance/obesity, and improvements in memory, nephroprotective and hepatoprotective activity. It also shows potential anti-atherogenic (by decreasing triaclyglyceride), anti-menopausal symptoms (decreased hot flashes per day, etc.), anti-osteoporosis (by increasing alkaline phosphatase activity and more), anti-pancreatitis (by reduction in amylase and lipase activity in serum and more) and possibly even anti-tumor benefits (by inducing apoptosis and more).¹⁴

Topical Benefits to the Skin   

  • Balances pH
  • Conditions of the skin’s surface
  • Antioxidant
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Anti-microbial
  • Cell regenerating
  • Deeply penetrating
  • Heals wounds
  • Soothes burns
  • Supports and rebuilds collagen
  • Provides added thickness to skin
  • Protective against free radical damage/environmental exposure ¹⁵
  • UVA and UVB protective.¹⁶ 

 

Usage/Shelf Life/Cautions

I find shelf life for the cold pressed oil listed as low as six months¹⁷ and up to two years when stored properly away from heat and light.¹⁸ The shelf life of the CO2 extract when stored properly is two years.¹⁹

There are no known contraindications topically. I have not found a suggested usage amount for the cold pressed oil, but usage of the CO2 extract is suggested at 2-10% as an additive or higher as needed. For internal use, consult an expert in aromatic or nutritional medicine.²⁰

Super Softening Skin Serum

This may be a bit of an indulgent blend, but the feel is so luxuriously thick and smooth, I have definitely fallen in love with it. Good for mature, dry, damaged and sensitive skin. Hint: Feels great on dry, chapped hands!

Carrier Oils:

0.5-oz. pomegranate (Punica granatum) seed oil
   or CO2 extract

0.2-oz. borage (Borago officinalis L.) seed oil
    or CO2 extract

0.8-oz. apricot (Prunus armeniaca) kernel oil 

Essential Oils:

2 drops jasmine (Jasminum grandiflorum L.)

5 drops yellow mandarin (Citrus reticulata)

2 drops Roman chamomile (Anthemis nobilis)

4 drops sweet orange (Citrus sinensis)

To Make: Mix all of the ingredients together in a 2-oz. airtight jar and store the blend in a cool, dry place.

To Use: Apply a dime-sized amount gently as needed to skin. 

Cautions: For adult use only.

Healing and Relaxing Bath Soak

Though I initially was not happy with the scent of this blend, once I added it to the water, the oil scent subsided, and the essential oil scents really blossomed. My skin felt soft afterwards, and I had such a feeling of renewed peace. 

Ingredients:

0.3-oz. pomegranate (Punica granatum) seed oil 

4-oz. Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate)

Essential Oils:

4 drops lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)

3 drops black spruce (Picea mariana)

1 drop Australian sandalwood (Santalum spicatum)

To Make: Add essential oils to pomegranate seed oil in a suitable sized container. Mix together. Put salt in small bowl, add the oil blend, and stir together. 

To Use: Add two tablespoons to a bathtub of warm water. Stir until salt is dissolved. Soak as desired, from fifteen minutes up to an hour.

Cautions: Discontinue use immediately if irritation occurs. Adult use only.

 

References

1. “Pomegranate.” New World Encyclopedia. Accessed April 27, 2020 from: https://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Pomegranate. 

2. Kerkhof, Madeleine. CO2 Extracts in Aromatherapy. Madeleine Kerkhof, Wernhout (NL), 2018. 1st English Edition, p. 42-43. 

3. “Pomegranate.” New World Encyclopedia. Accessed April 27, 2020 from: https://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Pomegranate. 

4. Kerkhof, Madeleine. CO2 Extracts in Aromatherapy. Madeleine Kerkhof, Wernhout (NL), 2018. 1st English Edition, p. 42-43.

5. Boroushaki, Mohammad Taher & Mollazadeh, Hamid & Afshari, Amir R. (2016). “Pomegranate seed oil: A comprehensive review on its therapeutic effects.” International Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Research. 7. 430-442. 10.13040/IJPSR.0975-8232.7 (2).430-42. 

6. Kerkhof, Madeleine. CO2 Extracts in Aromatherapy. Madeleine Kerkhof, Wernhout (NL), 2018. 1st English Edition, p. 42-43. 

7. Parker, Susan M. Power of the Seed: Your guide to oils for health and beauty. 1st Edition. Susan M Parker, 2014, p. 168-169.

8. Parker, Susan M. Power of the Seed: Your guide to oils for health and beauty. 1st Edition. Susan M Parker, 2014, p. 289.

9. Amri, Zahra et al. “Oil Characterization and Lipids Class Composition of Pomegranate Seeds.” BioMed research international vol. 2017 (2017): 2037341. doi:10.1155/2017/2037341

10. Parker, Susan M. Power of the Seed: Your guide to oils for health and beauty. 1st Edition. Susan M Parker, 2014, p. 168-169. 

11. Jill Seladi-Schulman, PhD, Debra Rose Wilson, PhD, MSN, RN, IBCLC, AHN-BC, CHT. Tocopheryl Acetate: Does It Really Work? Accessed April 28, 2020 from: https://www.healthline.com/health/tocopheryl-acetate.

12. Amri, Zahra et al. “Oil Characterization and Lipids Class Composition of Pomegranate Seeds.” BioMed research international vol. 2017 (2017): 2037341. doi:10.1155/2017/2037341

13. Boroushaki, Mohammad Taher & Mollazadeh, Hamid & Afshari, Amir R. (2016). “Pomegranate seed oil: A comprehensive review on its therapeutic effects.” International Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Research. 7. 430-442. 10.13040/IJPSR.0975-8232.7 (2).430-42. 

14. Boroushaki, Mohammad Taher & Mollazadeh, Hamid & Afshari, Amir R. (2016). “Pomegranate seed oil: A comprehensive review on its therapeutic effects.” International Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Research. 7. 430-442. 10.13040/IJPSR.0975-8232.7 (2).430-42.

15. Parker, Susan M. Power of the Seed: Your guide to oils for health and beauty. 1st Edition. Susan M Parker, 2014, p. 168-169.

16. Kerkhof, Madeleine. CO2 Extracts in Aromatherapy. Madeleine Kerkhof, Wernhout (NL), 2018. 1st English Edition, p. 42-43.

17. Kerkhof, Madeleine. CO2 Extracts in Aromatherapy. Madeleine Kerkhof, Wernhout (NL), 2018. 1st English Edition, p. 42-43.

18. “Pomegranate Organic Carrier Oil.” New Directions Aromatics. Accessed May 1, 2020 from: https://www.newdirectionsaromatics.com/products/carrier-oils/pomegranate-organic-carrier-oil.html

19. Kerkhof, Madeleine. CO2 Extracts in Aromatherapy. Madeleine Kerkhof, Wernhout (NL), 2018. 1st English Edition, p. 42-43. 

20. Kerkhof, Madeleine. CO2 Extracts in Aromatherapy. Madeleine Kerkhof, Wernhout (NL), 2018. 1st English Edition, p. 42-43. 

About Dawn Shipley Rodriguez:

Dawn Shipley Rodriguez graduated from the Sedona Aromatics Linguistics of AromaticsTM Program, completing a 250-hour Certificate in Professional Aromatherapy. She is a Registered Aromatherapist (RA), House Aromatherapy Artist at Cote d’Azur Spa in Pasadena, CA, and founder of Blue Dawn Aromatherapy, which she created to promote quality of life through aromatherapy based natural skin care and wellness products. Dawn also hosts relaxation parties to educate others on the importance of self-care in our daily lives, and at Cote d’Azur she offers a Custom Aromatherapy Experience, entailing personalizing a blend to take home. She also loves to create custom skin care products for both retail and wholesale customers, and loves to educate others on everything about aromatherapy, health and skin care. Dawn is also the NAHA Regional Director for Southern California. For more information about Dawn, visit her website at:
www.bluedawnaromatherapy.com

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