Researchers from Loma Linda University in California believe that Alzheimer's may be caused by the buildup of plaque from deposits associated with brain cell death due to oxidation, called beta-amyloid deposits. Pomegranate juice, which is high in antioxidant polyphenols, may offer protection against the oxidative stress that causes beta-amyloid deposits.
The researchers studied two groups of transgenic mice that had been genetically engineered to express a protein that eventually leads to Alzheimer's disease. The mice -- aged between six and 12.5 months -- were split into two groups: The first group's diet was supplemented with plain water, and the second group's diet was supplemented with diluted pomegranate juice concentrate. The concentrate was diluted to resemble the strength of commercially sold pomegranate juices.
The researchers then tested the two groups' cognitive function by subjecting the mice to a water maze, which required the animals to swim various distances to find a submerged platform. The group given pomegranate juice negotiated the maze 35 percent faster than the water group, and also swam a more direct path to find the submerged platform compared to the water group.
The researchers then examined the amount of beta-amyloid deposits in the brain cortex of the mice, and found that the group supplemented with pomegranate juice had 50 percent less of the deposits than the non-supplemented mice.
"This study is the first to show beneficial effects (both behavioral and neuropathological) of pomegranate juice in an animal model of (Alzheimer's disease)," wrote lead researcher Richard Hartman.
Hartman and his research team wrote that because pomegranate juice is so rich in biochemical compounds that may act synergistically to produce Alzheimer's protection, "...isolated components of pomegranate may not be as effective as dietary supplementation with either the whole fruit or its juice."
Natural health proponent Mike Adams, author of "The Seven Laws of Nutrition," said pomegranate juice "...is emerging as one of the most astounding disease-preventing medicines from nature. Not only does it protect against prostate cancer and urinary tract infections, now we're also seeing how it protects the nervous system from degeneration."