COUNTRIES: Germany; Switzerland
CONDUCTED BY: Intitute of Forensic Medicine, University of Freiburg, Germany; Hirslanden Klinik St. Anna, Luzern, Switzerland; Division of Geriatrics, Inslespital, University of Bern, Switzerland
PUBLISHED ON: Phytotherapy Reseach
This study attempts a critical evaluation of the clinical evidence behind the use of dietary pomegranate preparations in the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular diseases. A search of PubMed on August 10, 2014 identified 228 references, which yielded extractable data from 24 clinical studies of pomegranate preparations. Hand searching identified two further studies. The quality of the studies and evidence of effectiveness of pomegranate were assessed by an established set of conventional criteria. Overall, the study quality was poor. Even in the best studies, indications of benefit did not reach the conventional levels of statistical significance. The only study with a definitive design had a biochemical rather than a clinical endpoint: it showed the expected difference in blood concentrations of myeloperoxidase after a single dose of either pomegranate or placebo. Only 10 of the 26 studies provided HPLC data on the amounts of co-active ingredients in the preparations that were consumed by the subjects. If pomegranate has a role in the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular diseases, there is a pressing need for dose-finding and long-term confirmatory studies. The ultimate endpoint for definitive studies would be mortality, but reductions in blood pressure or demonstrable decreases in atherosclerotic plaques would be useful surrogates. Sample sizes for various assumptions are provided. Future studies need to prove the clinical benefit.