Pomegranate, Punica granatum L., has been used in traditional medicine in China and several regions of the world including Ayurveda, Islamic, and Persian for the treatment of atherosclerosis, diabetes, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and several types of cancer, as well as for peptic ulcer and oral diseases for hundreds of years. Presently, pomegranate is treated as both a “medicine food homology” herbal medicine and a healthy food supplemental product.
The aim of this work is to develop an overview of pomegranate in the context of the status of its traditional medicine theories, the spread along the Silk Road, ethnopharmacological uses, chemical compositions, pharmacological activities, toxicology, and the involved pathways.
Information on P. granatum L. was acquired from published materials, including monographs on medicinal plants, ancient and modern recorded classical texts; and pharmacopoeias and electronic databases (PubMed, Science Direct, Web of Science, Google Scholar, CNKI, and Wanfang Data).
Pomegranate has been used in many traditional medical systems throughout history. It is widely cultivated in Central Asia and spread throughout China along the Silk Road. Many phytochemicals, such as tannins, organic acids, flavonoids, alkaloids, and volatile oils have been identified from different parts of pomegranate, these compounds have a wide range of activities, including antioxidant, antimicrobial, and anti-oncogenic properties, as well as conferring resistance to cerebrovascular disease. Furthermore, A summary of the four promising pharmacological pathways is provided.
The traditional uses, chemical compositions, pharmacological activities, and signaling pathways of pomegranate are summarized comprehensively in the review. It can be treated as a guidance for the future clinical and basic research. The information provided in this review will be very useful for further studies to develop novel therapeutic directions for application of pomegranate.