This Wednesday we are continuing with the Exotic Oils series, so we will be looking at Pomegranate Seed Oil.
Pomegranate seed oil, botanically known as Punica granatum, is a soft amber color, and has a slightly fruity odor. The name pomegranate comes from the Latin word pomum, meaning apple, and granatus, meaning seeded. The pomegranate fruit is roundish and red, with a bitter pith that contains about 600 seeds, which are surrounded by juicy pips called the aril, which range in color from white, to a deep red or purple. They are native to Persia, Northern India and the Himalayas, but have been cultivated in the Caucasus, the drier parts of southeast Asia, the Mediterranean region of Southern Europe, and Africa since ancient times. They were introduced to Latin America and California by Spanish settlers in 1769, and are now cultivated in parts of California and Arizona.
The pomegranate seed oil is an extremely rich and nutritious oil that can be used internally and externally. It is suitable for food use, as well as for a dietary supplement, and it has great cosmetic and medicinal applications. It is a cold pressed oil that is relatively stable, with a shelf life of 14-16 months. And, as you have probably surmised, this oil comes from the seeds of the pomegranate fruit. The oil is rather pricey, but considering that it takes over two hundred pounds of fresh pomegranates to produce one pound of pomegranate seed oil, you can easily see why!
Now, why should you splurge on this exotic oil? Well, you may know that pomegranate seed extract and pomegranate juice possess high anti-oxidant properties. But what you probably are not aware of, is that the pomegranate seed oil is proving to be even more beneficial than the juice. While the oil also contains high levels of anti-oxidants, which fight free radicals and skin aging, pomegranate seed oil is one of the only plant sources of conjugated fatty acids. The conjugated fatty acids give it strong anti-inflammatory properties, which help to reduce swelling and ease muscular aches and pains.
Several recent studies have shown that pomegranate seed oil stimulates keratinocyte proliferation which promotes regeneration and strengthening of the epidermis, the skin. Pomegranate seed oil also contains a high amount of punicic acid, a compound closely related to conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). This punicic acid has been called a "super CLA", whose effect is even more potent than the ordinary CLA. Scientific studies have indicated that it may support the immune system and help the body to fight against human cancers, obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Additionally, pomegranate seed oil also contains phytoestrogens, which are similar to the estrogens which are naturally produced by the human body. Many women have found that using pomegranate seed oil topically as a skin moisturizer, orally as a dietary supplement, as a massage oil, or as a personal lubricant, has helped to ease the symptoms associated with perimenopause and menopause. Relieving symptoms of mood swings, hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness and diminished libido.
In cosmetic products, pomegranate seed oil is commonly used to revitalize dull and/or mature skin, soothe minor skin irritations, and diminish wrinkles. Without moisture, wrinkles become more pronounced and more numerous and the skin appears lack luster. The pomegranate seed oil adds moisture and with its natural estrogenic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-microbial properties, along with its anti-oxidants, it improves the skin's elasticity and protects it. It also affords relief from inflammation and minor skin irritations such as, dry skin, eczema, psoriasis and sunburned skin.
Pomegranate seed oil may be used in most of your skin care formulas, and only a small amount is needed to provide beneficial results. So try some pomegranate seed oil in your soaps, massage oils, facial care recipes, and any other body-care or cosmetic formulary. It has been shown to be excellent for the skin and the hair, whether as an additive, or just applied by itself to the skin and the hair. To reiterate, studies have shown that, when applied to the skin, pomegranate seed oil tightens the skin, moisturizes, balances the skin's PH, revitalizes aging skin, fights against wrinkles, and restores the skin's elasticity. It is good in hair care products because it revitalizes damaged hair, brings back shine, protects against environmental pollutants, and moisturizes.
As far as soaping is concerned, I know many will baulk at the thought of using this expensive oil in a "wash off" product. However, many studies are reporting that the benefits of this oil in natural, organic soaps are visibly measurable, and well worth the expense, especially for persons with eczema or dry, damaged skin, as the pomegranate soaps help to soothe these conditions as they clean. And, as previously stated, even a small amount has proven to be beneficial.