How It Works
Ellagic acid is a naturally occurring polyphenolic constituent found in 46 different fruits and nuts, like grapes, pomegranate, red raspberry, strawberry, blueberry and walnuts. "[Ellagic acid] prevents the binding of carcinogens to DNA and strengthens connective tissue, which may keep cancer cells from spreading." Ellagic Acid has the ability to inhibit mutations within a cell's DNA. Furthermore, it is considered to be a cancer inhibitor which has the ability to cause apoptosis or normal cell death in cancer cells.
First, ellagic acid kills cancer cells:
"Healthy cells have a normal life cycle of approximately 120 days before they die. This process is called apoptosis (natural cell death). The body replaces these dying cells with healthy cells. Conversely, cancer cells do not die. They multiply by division, making 2 cancer cells, then 4, 8, 16, 32 and so on. In lab tests, Ellagic Acid caused the cancer cells to go through the normal apoptosis process without damaging healthy cells. Chemotherapy, radiation, and most conventional treatments cause the death of cancer cells and healthy cells indiscriminately, possibly destroying the immune system in the process. Ellagic Acid is clearly the sensible choice."
Second, ellagic acid stops the growth of tumors:
"Rats that consumed 5% to 10% of their diet as freeze-dried black raspberries and strawberries showed dramatic reductions in the growth of precancerous cells and tumor progression, the researchers found. And in other animal tests, Stoner told Reuters Health, the berries reduced colon cancer growth by 80%. The Ohio Department of Agriculture supported the research Stoner presented at the meeting."
Third, ellagic acid causes G-arrest:
"The Hollings Cancer Institute at the University of South Carolina has conducted a double blind study on a group of 500 cervical cancer patients that had everyone excited. Nine years of study have shown that a natural product called Ellagic acid is causing G-arrest within 48 hours (inhibiting and stopping mitosis-cancer cell division), and apoptosis (normal cell death) within 72 hours, for breast, pancreas, esophageal, skin, colon and prostate cancer cells."
Fourth, ellagic acid helps prevent cancer, birth defects, etc.
"European medical studies also demonstrate that Ellagic Acid is known to lower the incidence of birth defects, promote wound healing, reduce heart disease, and may reduce or reverse chemically induced liver fibrosis."
Fifth, ellagic acid does a lot of other good things:
"From Dr Glen Halvorson's Book, Chemopreventive Properties of …Phytochemicals, we learn that ellagic acid is anti-bacterial, [it] destroys the H. pylori bacteria responsible for stomach ulcers, [it] protects the liver and liver function, [it] binds with carcinogens (chemicals that cause cancer) making them inactive, [it] prevents carcinogens from binding to DNA [and it] reduces glucose levels (aids in management of diabetes)."
Sixth, ellagic acid (i.e. from ellagitannins), is combined with glucose, making sure that cancer cells get a larger dose of ellagic acid than normal cells because cancer cells consume about 15 times more glucose than other cells. This means cancer cells probably get far more ellagic acid than normal cells:
"Although ellagic acid is the bioactive agent that offers protection, the phytochemical is generally ingested in the form of another biochemical called ellagitannin. Plants produce ellagic acid and glucose that combine to form ellagitannins, which are water-soluble compounds that are easier for animals to absorb in their diets. Consequently, small amounts of ellagitannins derived from natural sources may be more effective in the human diet than large doses of purified ellagic acid."
Here are some comments about blueberries:
"Extremely rich in a wide range of powerful antioxidant flavonoids (phenolic compounds). Blueberries / bilberries have more anthocyanins than any other food - 3 times more than the second richest source, green tea. They are also high in quercetin and ellagic acid - two other powerful flavonoids.
Flavonoids can also attach themselves to proteins, modulating the action of enzymes, including the kinase enzymes necessary for cell proliferation. In this way they are a very useful compliment to cancer therapy. When high doses of flavonoids are taken, all cell proliferation is inhibited; but this does not harm normal cells which can simply 'rest' - however, cancer cells cannot survive in the resting state.
Flavonoids also lower blood sugar levels, can restrict angiogenesis, help to keep nitric oxide within a healthy range, and raise the body's level of the endogenous antioxidant glutathione. Berries are also rich in vitamin C."
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Here is how it works:
"Ellagic Acid is a phenolic compound that has become known as a potent anti-carcinogenic/anti-mutagenic compound. It also has anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties. Ellagic Acid itself is not thought to be naturally present in plants. Instead, polymers of gallic acid and hexahydroxydipenoyl (HHDP) are linked to glucose centers to form the class of compounds known as ellagitannins. When two gallic acid groups become linked side by side within a tannin molecule an HHDP group is formed. Ellagic Acid is the result when the HHDP group is cleaved from the tannin molecule and spontaneously rearrages. It is the ellagitannins that are present in red raspberries."
Supercharging This Treatment
At the current time, ellagic acid supplements are generally not used as a stand-alone treatment for cancer. Rather, ellagic acid supplements are usually used in conjuction with other treatments. However, ellagic acid is found in fruits and nuts that are part of major alternative cancer treatments, such as the grape cure, Budwig Flaxseed (when walnuts are used), the Raw Food diet, etc.
It would probably be a mistake to take ellagic acid supplements without also consuming many natural, whole, raw foods that contain ellagic acid in order to get necessary enzymes and other synergistic nutrients.