Pomegranate – a symbol of prosperity and fertility

Autumn is the time when pomegranates are in season. You can find them in Middle Eastern shops and in mainstream supermarkets. The fruit is full of goodness and sweetness.

Modern research has shown pomegranate to be a rich source of vitamins B and C, potassium, magnesium and powerful antioxidants. Recent trials indicate it has anti-diabetic, anti-hypertensive (through the inhibition of angiotensin-converting enzyme; ACE), anti-cancer, anti-viral and anti-bacterial effects. Furthermore, it has been shown to have a positive effect on heart disease risk factors and onosteoarthritis. It has been used in folk medicine for thousands of years, where amongst other purposes, pomegranate juice is thought to relieve constipation, while the fruit seeds are used to treat diarrhoea.

Eat pomegranate fruit and drink the juice as part of your diet in autumn.

Together with other foods, pomegranate will act synergistically to enhance the nourishment and healing molecules provided to the body. It will also bring sweetness to the palate, pleasure to the eye and an opportunity to share a story with your child.

The pomegranate has symbolic meaning in many cultures and traditions and has been considered a sacred fruit in most major religions. In ancient times, it symbolised life and fertility and was used -together with apples and eggs- in weddings and funerals. Based on the myth of Persephone who was the wife of the God of Underworld (Hades), ancient Greeks put eggs and pomegranates in a basket next to the bed where the dead laid to rest. These offerings would help to bring life and fertility to what came after death, to ‘life after death’.

In England, pomegranate features in the coat of arms of the Royal College of Physicians, granted in the middle of the 16th century by King Henry the VIIIth. Perhaps, now that we have such advanced scientific knowledge, we can give a different meaning to this symbol:an acknowledgement of the significant role foods can play for health and for the treatment of sick for healing purposes.


(Photo by Dr Henry Oakeley)



Hippocrates, who lived 2,500 years ago, helped people maintain or restore their health by changing their DIET (ΔΙΑΙΤΑ). The word diet in Ancient Greek means ‘way of life’ and encompasses food, physical activity, massage, baths, sleep and other aspects of everyday activities.

We’ve known since ancient times that food, exercise and lifestyle, as well as the external environment, influence our healthFor this and many other reasons, food has always been a subject of interest for lay people, writers and philosophers alike. In the famous ancient cookery book ‘Deipnosophists’ (which means the ‘Banquet of Philosophers’) written by Athenaus in the 3rd century AD, we read the interesting story of the death of Democritus of Abdera, the ‘Laughing Philosopher’.

Feeling quite old at the age of 104, he had decided that his time had come to die. He had gradually reduced his food intake and was expecting to leave this life soon. It was however the time of a very important womens only festival, the Thesmophoria, dedicated to the goddesses Demeter and Persephone. His sister, who looked after him at his home and, who was herself more than 100 years old, asked him not to die during the festivities because she wanted to take part in them. Democritus, wanting to grant her wish, asked for a pot of honey to be brought to him. He kept himself alive for three days just by inhaling the fumes from the honey. When the festival had finished, the pot of honey was taken away and he passed away without any suffering.

This story from Ancient Greece graphically depicts many elements of nutritional care which we encounter in our modern medical practice and which we categorise as physical, cultural, social, ethical and emotional.