What is Ellagic Acid?

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  • Written By: Felicia Dye
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 23 September 2018
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Ellagic acid is a phytochemical, meaning that it is produced naturally by plants. The plants use this phytochemical to ward off infections and to deter pests. It is believed that the anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties in ellagic acid may have substantial health benefits for humans. Evidence regarding the effects of ellagic acid on human health is not conclusive, but many people are optimistic.

Positive anti-cancer properties have been observed when using this phytochemical to treat breast, skin, and prostate cancer cells. Some studies found that ellagic acid has the ability to bind with the cancer molecules and make them inactive. It is important to note that many of the studies conducted were performed on non-human subjects such as rats. Most of the studies that were conducted on humans have been relatively small.

There are strong beliefs that this phytochemical is an antioxidant. This would be a benefit to humans because antioxidants help to prevent cell damage. It also said to reduce heart disease, birth defects, and promote wound healing. People who prefer alternative healing methods often use ellagic acid for these purposes. This is done despite the fact that there are no conclusive human studies supporting these claims.


Foods that contain ellagic acid include strawberries, cranberries, and pomegranates. Raspberries are believed to have one highest concentrations. Some nuts, such as walnuts and pecans, also contain the phytochemical. Those who consider eating excessive amounts of these foods in hopes of fighting cancer should be reminded of the importance that a balanced diet plays in their health.

Supplements in capsule, powder, and liquid form are commonly available in health food stores and on the Internet. In the United States, these are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), although they are not generally considered dangerous. The FDA has, however, warned the public and suppliers against buying or selling ellagic acid as a cancer cure. There is also the possibility that substantial amounts of this phytochemical may affect the enzymes in the liver. This could be of concern to those who are taking prescribed medications.

The study of ellagic acid dates back to the 1960s, when there were theories that it may affect blood clotting. Some positive results were found in this regard. Published research linking the phytochemical to cancer began to appear in the 1970s. The commercial opportunities provided by the Internet are generally credited for the widespread promotion of this phytochemical as an alternative healing option.



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