Glyphosate increases histamine, both may be a factor in COVID19

Recent posts include a long one on glyphosate, biofuel, and liver disease and how it may be increasing inflammation in severe COVID19; and two other posts (a, b) are about how an immune allergy type reaction increases histamine and a variety of symptoms, and which may be a factor in LongCovid. Foods and the health of our intestinal microbiome, bacteria and other microbes, can also increase histamine directly or indirectly. Some foods contain histamine and others cause more histamine to be produced. Glyphosate residue may also cause an increase in histamine. (1)

Genetics may be a factor in who is more at risk for having excess histamine. There is an enzyme needed to break down the excess histamine from foods, within the intestinal tract, which some people may not be able to make. It can be purchased as a supplement and taken with meals. Other people may have overactive mast cells which are the type of immune cell that produces histamine throughout the body. (1 , 2)

If the mast cells are overactive, MCAS – Mast Cell Activation Syndrome, symptoms may be more severe than a seasonal allergy type of histamine reaction and may include: “rashes, hives, itching, flushing, fainting, headache, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), fatigue, chronic pain, trouble breathing and many more.” (2) To complicate trying to figure out if this is a problem for oneself or a patient the overactivity of mast cells may also be associated with other complex conditions that have varied symptoms too, including: “allergies, autism, autoimmune disorders, cancer, diabetes, Ehler-Danlos syndrome, postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS), fibromyalgia, Lyme disease, mastocytosis, migraines and obesity.” (2) Add the various symptoms together and a person might have a confusing mixture of “twenty to thirty symptoms” and feel “extremely ill.” (2)

Lab tests frequently are not helpful for many of the conditions or MCAS and it may also be unclear whether a person is having histamine symptoms because of intestinal digestion or microbiome problems or due to overactive mast cells throughout the body. Severity of symptoms may be worse if the problem is related to mast cell activation throughout the body. Treatment approach would also be different. Some people might be helped by use of the digestive histamine enzyme while others wouldn’t need it. Both types, digestive histamine excess and mast cell over activity, would be helped by decreasing histamine containing foods or ones that increase release of histamine from mast cells. Eliminating all histamine from the diet would be impractical if not impossible. Reducing the amount might make a significant difference though in reducing the negative symptoms. More details about identifying the type of problem with lab tests or other clinical indicators and an elimination diet description are available here: westonaprice.org. (2)

Glyphosate as a stimulator of histamine release (1) would create a different list of foods to avoid. See the previous post “a long one on glyphosate,” the list of tips are summarized at the top of the post, so the full length can be skipped if desired.

Over active mast cells may involve cannabinoid deficiency. Mast cells have both Cannabinoid Receptor Type 1 and Type 2 on the cell surface and when activated they cause an inhibition of the mast cell.

Mast cells contain CB1 and CB2 receptors, which when activated inhibit mast cell release (R). Research shows that cannabinoids can suppress mast cell degranulation. … Our results show that CB1 and CB2 mediate diametrically opposed effects on cAMP levels in mast cells. ” (3, 4)

We have previously shown that exposure of mast cells to cannabinoids that bind to both CB1 and CB2 cause a net suppression in the proinflammatory responses.” […] “At short time points, ligation of either CB1 or CB2 leads to a suppression of cAMP levels. However, over a longer exposure time course, the cAMP responses that follow ligation of the two receptors are diametrically opposed. These results allow us to draw two conclusions. First, the results imply that CB1 and CB2 receptors are not redundant when co-expressed in mast cells. Secondly, the results suggest that the two receptors couple to distinct signalling pathways that diverge downstream of the Gαi/o proteins to which they are both coupled.” (4) – that may suggest that a short time, small amount of THC & CBD may not help suppress the mast cells, by increasing cAMP sufficiently, a longer exposure, larger dose is needed – and that both the CB1 and CB2 receptor types need to be activated for the suppression of mast cell. CBD activates CB2 receptors and THC activates CB1 receptors.

CBD alone without THC maybe ineffective at treating dysfunctional mast cells because THC has a strong binding affinity for both CB1 and CB2 receptors, cannabidiol (CBD) has no particular binding affinity. Instead, many of the therapeutic benefits of CBD are created through indirect actions.” (3)

Edibles or smoke? “However, when it comes to MCAS patients who are more severe, they tend to not tolerate ingesting the Medical Cannabis oil or edibles but may can inhale the actual Organic Medical Cannabis Flower and find great relief from MCAS symptoms.” (3)

More information about mast cells and what they do is included in Mast Cells: MCAS, genetics and solutions. geneticlifehacks.com (1) Viruses can activate mast cells, which then release histamine and other inflammatory cytokines and chemicals. The immune mast cells are also called granulocytes because when activated they release little packets, granules, full of the inflammatory chemicals. Flu virus has been found to activate mast cells and mast cell inhibitors helped reduce lung damage and mortality in severe cases of influenza. Too much inhibition during an active infection might not be helpful though, because the goal is to kill the virus infected cells or other pathogens that can activate mast cells. (1)

What does histamine do?

Brain histamine promotes wakefulness and orchestrates disparate behaviors and homeostatic functions.” […] “Dysfunctions of the histaminergic system may also contribute to the pathogenesis of multiple sclerosis and its murine model of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis,” […] “Histamine neurons send broad projections within the CNS that are organized in functionally distinct circuits impinging on different brain regions.” (5)

Histamine promotes wakefulness, so an excess may lead to insomnia problems, and it affects a lot of varied behaviors and balance of functions throughout the body, disparate – a wide range of behaviors, which suggests why there can be such a wide range of symptoms, and homeostatic – balance of body functions – no longer as able to stay at an even center, too tired, or too excited, too cold or too flushed, numbness or pain – roughly. Too itchy too often.

Histamine itch and non-histamine itch are mainly mediated by TrpV1 and TrpA1 respectively. In addition, Trp channels can be coupled to cytokine receptors, toll like receptors or may even be directly activated by pruritogens.” (6)

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) can involve overactive mast cells and excess histamine activating Trp channels in the intestines, (1), leading to sudden diarrhea and/or pain. “Pruritigens” refers to other chemicals that directly activate Trp channels such as horseradish or Latex that cause itching, (pruritus). Others may cause the bowel symptoms of IBD including cinnamaldehyde from cinnamon, capsaicin from hot pepper, curcumin in turmeric, and other chemicals in spices or herbs like ginger, cloves, and mint. Previous post 1, post 2/webpage G3.5-3.6.2, G5.

Yes, it is not easy to figure out what you can eat if you have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome, or to safely use as skin care products or medications as some of the ingredients might be Trp channel activators.

Medications that may help reduce mast cell activation in the condition of Irritable Bowel Syndrome, similar to Inflammatory bowel disease but less severe, include mast cell stabilizers and “a medication to reduce prostaglandin E2 synthesis (e.g. a COX2 inhibitor) stopped the hypersensitivity in the animal model of IBS. [ref]” (1) Pomegranate peel extract and other antioxidants may act in part through COX2 inhibition. (previous post) Prep tips for pomegranate & the peel: G13.

Mast cell activation may also be involved in autoimmune diseases including Multiple sclerosis, Type 1 Diabetes, and Rheumatoid arthritis. (1) The excessive release of cytokines and inflammatory chemicals can lead to cell damage in surrounding tissue. Mast cells tend to be located within specific tissue areas of the body or along epithelial layers (skin and membrane linings of blood vessels or other tissue), rather than be free moving like some other types of immune white blood cells. (1) Some people may have overactivity in some areas of the body rather than throughout the entire body.

Regarding COVID19 illness, the cytokine interleukin 6 (IL-6) tends to be present in excess, (8), and it is a mast cell activator. (1) Vitamin C can help inhibit IL-6. (7)

Psychological stress causes mast cells to release their histamine and other chemicals – uh oh, time to think serenely about that. (1)

Tips to worry less – can you do anything about them? If no, try to let them go. Writing worries on notes and putting them in a worry jar is one idea – you did something about it. You can look through your worries later. If yes, plan your time – 1. write down your goals, long term – 5-10 years, mid length, this year, and short term, this day/week/month, and 2. make an action plan, what steps to take today, write a list. 3. Do your plan, cross off your list items. It can feel more organized and good to check off your short term goals, and more peaceful to have a plan. (9)

Regarding the complexity of Mast Cell Activation Syndrome, or histamine from food – writing down your symptoms and daily food, beverages, and other lifestyle issues that standout from your routine can help to start seeing a pattern of which foods or habits might be adding to the problem. Elimination diets are quiet simple to start and need to be followed for a couple weeks to get the body cleared out of the potential problem foods and hopefully start feeling better, whether itchy, headaches, fatigue, brain-fog, or pain, numbness, or other symptoms. Then add only one thing back and see if symptoms return. Symptoms may be fairly immediate, or the next day or two so gradual reintroduction will be easiest to track whether it seems to cause symptoms.

Lab tests and other help and medication may be nice too, if available, but an elimination diet can be done fairly easily and safely. Stick to a variety of foods from the different food groups and read bottles on any supplements or medications to check for ingredients that might also be trigger substances ‘starch’ is usually wheat or corn based unless specifically labeled like tapioca or arrowroot starch. Other post (a) includes links with a food diary and information about elimination diets for histamine issues. Not all people have exactly the same sensitivities and there can be an additive effect, many problem foods on the same day as stress – may become a flare up. Some of the lists vary and some are more restricted than others, but most have similarities in the worst risk foods. Starting with eliminating some of those and seeing if you start feeling better can also be a way to work towards learning what are problem foods for you personally.

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.

Reference List

  1. Mast cells: MCAS, genetics, and solutions, geneticlifehacks.com, https://www.geneticlifehacks.com/mast-cells/
  2. Hidden in Plain Sight: Histamine Problems, westonaprice.org, https://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/modern-diseases/hidden-in-plain-sight-histamine-problems/
  3. Www.TickedOffMastCell.Org, Medical Cannabis: Mast Cell Activation Syndrome, 10/24/2019, ibcnj.com https://ibcnj.com/medical-cannabis-mast-cell-activation-syndrome/
  4. Small-Howard AL, Shimoda LMN, Adra CN and Turner H, Anti-inflammatory potential of CB1-mediated cAMP elevation in mast cells. Biochem. J. (2005) 388, 465–473 https://anandaenterprises.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Anti-inflammatory-Potential-of-CB1-mediated-CAMP-Elevation-in-Mast-Cells.pdf.pdf
  5. Passani MB, Panula P, Lin JS. Histamine in the brain. Front Syst Neurosci. 2014;8:64. Published 2014 Apr 28. doi:10.3389/fnsys.2014.00064 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4009418/
  6. Sun S, Dong X. Trp channels and itch. Semin Immunopathol. 2016;38(3):293-307. doi:10.1007/s00281-015-0530-4 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4798920/
  7. Härtel C, Puzik A, Göpel W, Temming P, Bucsky P, Schultz C: Immunomodulatory Effect of Vitamin C on Intracytoplasmic Cytokine Production in Neonatal Cord Blood Cells. Neonatology 2007;91:54-60. doi: 10.1159/000096972 https://www.karger.com/Article/Abstract/96972#
  8. Grifoni E, Valoriani A, Cei F, et al. Interleukin-6 as prognosticator in patients with COVID-19. J Infect. 2020;81(3):452-482. doi:10.1016/j.jinf.2020.06.008 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7278637/
  9. Gerry McCann, How to Manage Your Time Worry Less and Discover more Happiness, youtube.com, https://youtu.be/RgBb4xNrM-s

Sumac tea was a lemony drink used by Native Americans

Sumac is  a shrubby tree that grows easily in many areas of the U.S. and other countries. Types with reddish berries/seed clusters are safe for tea or use as a ground spice while a type with whitish berries is not safe. As a plant it is considered an invasive species because it grows so easily it can be difficult to remove from an area. It grows wild in patches along highways in some areas such as Iowa for example:

Sumac growing wild along U.S. Highway I-80 in Iowa during the winter season. when no leaves are present but last years seed clusters can still be observed on the top branches

Why care about Sumac? I bought a jar at a Middle Eastern grocery store of the plant prepared as a ground dried spice to sprinkle on foods during cooking or at the table. The jar I bought was imported from Lebanon. I paid $3.99 for a little less than a half pound size container so it isn’t a high profit margin spice but on the other hand I would be happy to by Sumac that was harvested in Iowa or Oklahoma or Michigan – all places where it grows wild.

One species that is safe for use is known to grow in all 48 contiguous states. Early in the spring the newly sprouted shoots can be eaten as a salad like vegetable. the lemony flavored tea can also be made into a jelly or candy: (http://www.eattheweeds.com/sumac-more-than-just-native-lemonade/)

Research performed with the plant in other nations regarding its medicinal benefits have found the spice or extracts to have a wide range of benefits.  More information about medicinal benefits are in an earlier post on the topic and are also listed with summertime images of the red seed clusters in an article Sumac: Nutritional Properties: https://iowaherbalist.com/tag/sumac-nutritional-properties/ and one about Sumac Tea: https://allnaturalideas.com/sumac-tea/.

The spice or tea can have significant diuretic properties similar to drinking coffee or alcoholic beverages so having smaller amounts earlier in the day along with plenty of water throughout the day can help the body cleanse toxins early in the day without waking you in the middle of the night. Overly acidic urine may cause an extreme urge to urinate but then produce only a small amount – which means the body is working hard to remove acidity without adequate water to dilute it – so drink plenty of water and acidity and toxins will be readily removed in the more dilute urine. Diuretic medications are often given to patients who are retaining excess water with a goal to help the body remove the excess water and salt from edematous areas between organs and outside of blood vessels. https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/tips-for-taking-diuretic-medications  They are different but similar in effect to a diuretic beverage such as coffee or alcoholic beverages.

The acidic and antimicrobial properties of sumac have also been studied in food preparation of raw chicken to reduce the risk of salmonella and other food pathogens: The Effect of Water Extract of Sumac (Rhus coriariaL.) and Lactic Acid on Decontamination and Shelf Life of Raw Broiler Wings,  https://academic.oup.com/ps/article/85/8/1466/1524938

Gallotannins are one of the phytonutrients in sumac with medicinal benefits and is concentrated enough that the plant can be a source for extracting the substance, gallotannins and sumac. While the active phytonutrients in pomegranate peel extract and sumac extract are slightly different they both exhibit antifungal properties that may be beneficial for commercial, agricultural use: Chemical Characterization of Different Sumac and Pomegranate Extracts Effective against Botrytis cinerea Rots http://www.mdpi.com/1420-3049/20/7/11941/htm

To connect the dots for those who don’t see the bigger picture in the same way that I do – one easy to grow crop that grows across the nation could be used to flavor anything lemon flavored for possibly less cost that lemons cost.  The lemon flavor is from the terpene content, it contains the same type as lemon and limes: limonene. Sumac could be used for a variety of products for direct use by humans and might also be useful as a medication for humans or for animals. It also might have industrial and agricultural uses for its antimicrobial and antifungal properties. One negative side effect that has become more apparent in agriculture is that pathogenic fungal strains seem more prevalent in soil that has had a buildup of Roundup/glyphosate. Hard to treat fungal illnesses in humans may also becoming more common. A lemony drink or food that treats hard to treat diseases in humans or farm animals and which can be grown very inexpensively could be useful if it was recognized as useful instead of simply an invasive weed.

The seed clusters left over from last fall could likely be harvested now, before spring growth occurs, and used for agricultural experiments this season, instead of waiting for the next new crop of seed clusters that would be ripe at the end of next summer, approximately in August.

The pomegranate peel leftover from making pomegranate juice is currently also being wasted when it might be useful as a medicine or food substance or even as an agricultural antifungal treatment.

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.

Glyphosate from Roundup causing soil problems in No-Till agriculture

In a recent article published for the agricultural No-Till system specialists were recommended to reduce use of the GM crops that are designed to use the herbicide Round-Up which contains glyphosate by rotating non Round-Up crops with the GM Round-Up ready crops. Research findings suggest the chemical glyphosate is remaining in the soil longer than expected, over years of time, and collecting to levels that seem to support increased fungal pathogens. Some types of healthy strains of bacteria that would typically help protect the soil environment from the harmful strains of fungi are being negatively affected by the glyphosate. Some crops are also beginning to be affected by the increased saturation of glyphosate within the soil.

See “Glyphosate & GM Crops are Harming No-Till Soils,” GMwatch.org, Jan. 10, 2018, for more detail.

The fungi that may be promoted by increased concentrations of glyphosate may include Fusarium strains which can affect large percentages of a crop causing a large financial loss to the farmer. The effect has been noted in Canadian research: Monsanto’s Roundup Spreading Fusarium Fungus, organicconsumers.org.

Some of the fungal strains may be a risk to farm workers exposed to dusty air that contains the fungal spores and protective masks were recommended. Symptoms might result in a persistent cough and testing and a diagnosis of fungal growth in the lungs is not typical. Beneficial types of fungus in the soil that also help prevent growth of the harmful strains may also be negatively effected by glyphosate. People consuming foods with glyphosate residue would not be at risk to dust in a farm field in the same way that a farm worker is at risk however increased health complaints in farm workers and people living near by may be a concern in areas with increased agricultural use of glyphosate/Roundup.

“Few cases of Aspergillus lung infections resulting in death have been recorded, but possibly only because pneumonia, asthma or viral infections are assumed to be the cause of death when respiratory failure occurs. A fungus growing in the lungs has not been considered as a cause of death by most physicians. Nor does death always occur, as the Aspergillus niger mold growing in the lungs might just cause a persistent cough and respiratory discomfort.”

– Read more: Dust Study is There More to the Story on GMO’s?, Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance, FarmandRanchFreedom.org.

What would be less easy to determine is if eating a diet that contains a greater concentration of glyphosate is increasing the internal percentage of pathogenic strains of fungi over more benign bacteria and fungi. Our intestines and bodies benefit from a healthy balance of bacteria as they create some important nutrients and more digestible forms of some types of carbohydrate starches from less digestible types of plant fiber.

There has been an increase in asthma (7% in 2001 to 8% in 2009, cdc.gov) and an increase in deaths due to respiratory problems in the U.S. between 1980 and 2014:

“From 1980 through 2014, more than 4.6 million Americans died from a range of chronic respiratory illnesses, the researchers reported. While the risk was pegged at 41 deaths for every 100,000 people back in 1980, it rose to nearly 53 out of every 100,000 by 2014, representing a nearly 31 percent spike over 35 years.”

Read more: Respiratory  Disease Death Rates Have Soared, Sept. 29, 2017, WebMD.com.

More information about respiratory and other types of illnesses associated with Aspergillus fungi and current treatment options is available here: aspergillus.org.uk .

The tips for avoiding glyphosate residue in food is not something anyone is likely going to be happy about – eat organically grown foods. Animal products from animals fed crops that were grown with RoundUp may also have glyphosate residue as chemically it may be similar enough to an amino acid that is incorporated into proteins throughout the body.

A summary of the main GM crops grown with glyphosate and a timeline for when use was significantly increased in the U.S.:

Avoid processed foods, as most contain ingredients made from crops on which Roundup was used as an herbicide or as a drying agent. Foods made from ‘organic’ ingredients may also contain residue of glyphosate or Roundup; but screening of food samples has found less glyphosate in organic samples than in commercially grown samples; and individuals who have switched to a diet containing only organically grown food were found to have a drop in the level of glyphosate measured in their specimen samples (blood or urine) that were taken before and after switching to the organic diet for several weeks (posts with more info: glyphosate levels in test samples and subjectsGlyphosate, a consensus statementSome tips for reducing dietary exposure to glyphosate or to replace nutrients it effects negatively; and an update on the post with dietary tips).

Soy, corn and cottonseed oil all may be sources of increased amounts of glyphosate residue since use of the chemical increased in the late 1990’s with the introduction of crops genetically modified to be resistant to the herbicide Roundup which contains glyphosate also has other ingredients which in combination seem to be even more of a health risk than safety tests suggest glyphosate is on its own as a single chemical hazard.

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.

Master Chef Challenge – Pomegranate Peel

Eight pomegranates later I’m glad to report that making pomegranate extract in the home kitchen is possible and the product can be used in a variety ways. Whether or not it has health benefits would need to be determined by clinical trials and chemical analysis and/or by the individual user at their own risk. But someone needs to be patient number one and being a professionally trained quantity foods and individual diet planner and producer helped give me the knowledge base I needed to turn the animal based research into a home kitchen recipe.

Background info – “an extract” of a food could be considered in Master Chef terms as either a raw, fresh squeezed juice or as a heated/simmered tea or soup stock.

Tea: A tea is generally made from dried herbs or dried fruit or flowers and is usually steeped for about 15-20 minutes for herbal tea or for one and half to four or five minutes for a green tea or black tea. Over steeping tea leaves can release an excess amount of the more bitter tannins which can have negative health effects of blood clotting for some people, (more on tannins in different types of tea: livestrong.com), and less healthy oxalic acid which can be a problem for people with kidney stones. (Rooibus, red tea, does not have oxalic acid. (beliefnet.com)) (Cold brewing (tching.com) may release less tannin content; although some tannins can have health benefits and some people get used to stronger more bitter black tea.

Soup stock: Soup stock may be made from washed and trimmed parts of vegetables that are not being used or are too fibrous for use in a food being prepared for direct consumption. A bone stock is simmered or roasted for a couple hours to release as much nutrient content as possible from the bone marrow (inner part of the bones) and cartilage and other trim that isn’t pure fats. A vegetable stock is simmered for less time as the nutrients from vegetables are released in a shorter amount of time, twenty to thirty minutes usually is adequate to release full flavor without destroying nutrients and flavor from over heating.

Juice: A good quality juicer is needed which the average home kitchen typically does not have. And a juicer can only handle soft fruits or vegetables of a consistent quality, carrots are generally possible but tougher seeds or peels need to be removed from other vegetables or fruits. Orange peel can not be juiced and would likely taste too bitter for making a quantity of juice. I use a sprinkle, 1/8 th teaspoon of minced dried lemon peel in soup which I add at the table rather than to the soup pot to retain more of the aroma and redcue risk of break down of the flavor or phytonutrients during the cooktime of a soup.

Pomegranate peel is very tough and is fairly dry. The soft whitish inner membrane could be run through a juicer but the brilliantly colored reddish peel also likely contains healthy phytonutrients and makes up more of the volume of the trim leftover after removing the juicy seeds.  Research on pumpkin seed kernels revealed that toasting them increases phospholipid content and that is a nutrient that can have health benefits for promoting Nrf2 and other health promoting needs for the body. So my kitchen trials focused on making a soup stock type of pomegranate peel/membrane extract. I tried batches simmered for 20 minutes which retained more color and for 30 minutes which broke down more of the pulp and resulted in a thicker, creamier extract. Both products seem to help my health symptoms and improve my energy level and mood.

Two large pomegranates.

Eight pomegranates later:

  1. For a concentrated product meant for frequent use I would recommend using organically grown pomegranates as the commercial growers may use glyphosate for weed control between the rows of pomegranate trees/shrubs. (Pomegranate trees/shrubs can survive 200 years – invest now – they can take 5-6 years to become fully producing but can have multiple trunks which resprout regularly and can be divided easily to create more rows of trees or should be pruned to reduce energy lost to the fruiting branches. they need a fairly dry climate but with some regular ground water or irrigation, excessive rainy or humid seasons increase risk of infection in the blossoms and tend to produce less quality fruit. So pomegranates are a good crop to consider investing in as we head into a drier, hotter planet, regions that are less ideal right now may become ideal in a decade or two. (Pomegranate growing tips: California, Georgia))
  2. The fruit is likely coated in a food grade wax to help it remain fresh longer. Washing the outer surface before cutting is a good idea, I just rinsed mine rather than using any special produce washing chemical. (Example of a product designed to remove food grade waxes. TraderJoe’s Fruit and Vegetable Wash) Glyphosate may be a chemical that is actually taken up into the produce or animal product so washing the exterior would not remove hypothetical risk from produce grown with it. (The chemical, glyphosate,is very similar to an amino acid, glycine, and it may be incorporated directly into protein structures in place of molecules of glycine, hypothetically. This theory needs more research; which wouldn’t be difficult for professional chemists with access to radioactive marking chemicals – radioactive label the glyposate; grow the product with the standard application rate of glyphosate/Roundup; and then test the produce, or animals that were fed with the produce, for presence of the radioactively labeled glyphosate – not a task for the home kitchen chef).
  3. Remove the juicy seeds and trim the peel and membrane of any discolored spots. It is not uncommon to have some brownish areas and a few bad seeds. Just trim away the discolored areas and discard. Cut away the discolored inner part that would be white from areas of the tougher rind that is still colorful rather than brownish to preserve more of the fruit. (math to add later, I measured yield to get an average, * see the end of the post for the details.)
  4. If a larger quantity of pomegranates are available to make a big batch of extract then any excess seeds that won’t be able to be used fresh can simply be put in a freezer bag or container and frozen for later thawing to use fresh on salad or as a snack or dessert fruit. I rinsed the seeds before freezing to remove any residue left from the occasional bad/rotten seeds. The pomegranate tips I read suggested a simple method to trim many pomegranates was to score the rind in half and then sixths or eighths; and fill a clean sink or large container with water and remove the seeds under water. Good seeds tend to be heavy and sink and bad seeds and the membrane and rind tend to float. Skim off the top layer of floating seeds and membrane and separate and trim the good parts of the inner membrane and rind and discard any decayed rind or seeds. Drain the bowl or sink and remove the seeds and sort for any bits of membrane. I didn’t try this method. I sorted god and bad seeds into separate bowls and trimmed the pile of peel/membrane of discolored areas afterward. Using food safe gloves might help protect the skin if prepping a large batch. The juice is acidic and can be a little drying to the skin. Put the seeds in a refrigerator container to use fresh or a freezer container to store for later use.
  5. I chopped the trimmed peel and inner membrane into roughly a quarter inch dice to try to maximize how much phospholipid and other phytonutrients might be released during the simmering phase. The extract might be as potent with a larger chop or no extra chopping. I didn’t experiment with that aspect – all batches were made with a quarter inch dice.
  6. I tried varying amounts of water with the chopped membrane and found it was easiest to work with when more was used, about one cup of water per one cup of diced peel worked fairly well for draining afterwards. One large pomegranate produced about two cups of diced membrane. I added one teaspoon of cold pressed organic coconut oil to the water/peel mixture in a large nonstick stockpot (or saucepan depending on the amount I was making). A little extra oil can help some phytonutrients be released from produce – (tomato sauce made with a little oil has more available lycopene content then tomato products made without oil or the fresh tomato.)
  7. Bring the peel/water/coconut oil mixture to a simmer at medium high heat ( a few minutes) and promptly turn down the heat to medium or low, cover with a lid, and continue at a gentle simmer (barely bubbling) for 20-30 minutes. Try not to overheat which might be noticed as a caramelized sugary smell or membrane fiber sticking to the bottom of the pan. Stirring occasionally can help.
  8. Drain the extract in a metal colander or soup stock wire mesh skimmer (example). Store in glass or metal until cooled as hot liquids can interact with some types of plastic and cause plastic molecules to enter the food. I rinsed the leftover peel with a few additional cups of water and got a second and third batch of more dilute extract that also had flavor and some health symptom relief effects. Master Chef challenge – there’s probably easier ways to do this. I did try running one batch of the softened membranes through a juicer and it didn’t really work, turned it to pulp, a blender would have done that, but the taste is very bitter, the extract is bitter enough without adding the actual peel (I sampled a little, sugar can’t help everything taste better.)
  9. Use the extract fresh or freeze the excess. It is quite acidic and fairly concentrated. To drink it as a juice I diluted with water, doubling roughly the volume and adding an ounce of 100% cherry juice and a spoonful of sugar helped the flavor, but pH strips and my stomach told me the acidity is the main issue with making it tolerable to drink. It is more acidic than coffee. I started adding baking soda as I do to my coffee but instead of one pinch per cup of coffee I ended up needing four pinches to get the pH adjusted to around a 6.0 it started at 4 or less (water is ~ a 7.0) (I happened to have pH strips on hand).
  10. I also tried the extract in a thick bean/rice vegetable soup, adding about an 1/8 to 1/4 cup of the more concentrated extract per couple bowls of soup to thin it for reheating and a little addition of something acidic can help with digestion, especially for older people (about 3 cups of soup). I regularly add a spoonful or two of lemon/lime juice to my bowls of bean soup or one spoonful of apple cider vinegar Iit is slightly more acidic). I tried a slightly smaller amount in the same soup for a group of people and while they all weren’t regular bean soup eaters they all found it okay and a couple of them liked it. (The chocolate chip cookies were more popular.)

My health symptoms seem to be more stable with the addition of extract  to my diet than they were with the 1/3 to 2/3 cup of pomegranate seeds each day. The other advantage is that freezing extract and seeds could help make it easier to have a reliable year round source for something that is needed for a daily health need.

The unchopped peel in the scale, a large bowl of good seeds and a small bowl of a few discolored seeds. This pomegranate didn’t really have many bad spots.

The chopped, 1/4 inch dice, raw peel and inner membrane.

The raw chopped peel and water before heating.

A large batch of the extract with peel and membrane after cooking 30 minutes.

A pan with drained extract and a colander with the leftover larger peel – this batch was cooked for 20 minutes.

A little chilled coconut oil is floating on top of the containers prepped to freeze.

Math yield:

The large pomegranate averaged more seeds but the total peel/membrane ended up being only a little more than from the small size. However the small ones I had were fresher and had fewer bad spots to trim so less waste may have been the major difference. The size difference isn’t type, it depends on when the blossom was pollinated. The pomegranate can have a few blossom setting times during the spring and blossoms that pollinate early produce large fruit and later ones produce smaller fruit. Or a shorter or drier growing season or less fertilizer applied to the rows may also result in smaller fruit. Pomegranate are usually sold by unit price rather than by pound so a larger fruit averaged about twice the size of the small size and would be a better deal if the price was per unit/ per fruit rather than by weight.

The large fruit, (six), averaged 18 1/4 ounces, 510 grams. And provided an average of 11 1/4 ounces, 306 grams, good seeds, and 7 ounces good peel/membrane, 195 grams, and 3 1/4 ounces bad seed/peel, 106 grams.

The small fruit, (two), averaged 9 3/4 ounces, 270 grams. And provided an average of 4 ounces good seeds, 110 grams, and 4 3/4 ounces good peel/membrane, 123 grams, and 1/4 ounce bad seed/peel, 6 grams.

The total extract made depended on how much water I used and the concentration varied so it would be difficult to give any accurate yield but roughly the amount of water used resulted in a similar amount of extract produced. Each pomegranate roughly produced two to three cups of concentrated extract which needs to be diluted with another two t three cups of water or soup to be palatable.

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.