Phytochemicals — chemicals found in plant foods — might have health benefits that explain why fruits and vegetables are good for you, just like your mom said. Potential benefits of one phytochemical, ellagic acid, include decreasing cancer risk and lowering cholesterol. Ellagitannins, which break down into ellagic acid when you consume them, are one of the compounds found in some berries and other fruits as well as some nuts.


Ellagic acid (EA) is a naturally occurring polyphenol found in some fruits and nuts, including berries, pomegranates, grapes, and walnuts. EA has been investigated extensively because of its antiproliferative action in some cancers, along with its anti-inflammatory effects. A growing body of evidence suggests that the intake of EA is effective in attenuating obesity and ameliorating obesity-mediated metabolic complications, such as insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, and atherosclerosis. In this review, we summarize how intake of EA regulates lipid metabolism in vitro and in vivo, and delineate the potential mechanisms of action of EA on obesity-mediated metabolic complications. We also discuss EA as an epigenetic effector, as well as a modulator of the gut microbiome, suggesting that EA may exert a broader spectrum of health benefits than has been demonstrated to date.

Reduction of tumor necrosis factor

This study employed the metabolomic approach to identify the key constituent exerting anti-inflammatory activity in murine macrophage RAW 264.7 cells. Among the six different fractions (SF1-SF6) of the strawberry ‘Seolhyang’, SF4 showed more significant inhibition on iNOS expression than SF3, and ellagic acid was determined as the most significant different component between SF4 and SF3 using orthogonal partial least-squares discriminant analysis. Ellagic acid (0.3 and 1.0 μM) and SF4 (100 μg/mL) were found to regulate the same inflammatory mediators, inhibitory κB (IκB) and mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs), which led to the reduction of tumor necrosis factor (TNF-α), interleukin-1β (IL-1β), and iNOS expressions. These results demonstrate that ellagic acid from strawberry ‘Seolhyang’ is the major component playing a crucial role in inflammation, suggesting the possible application of metabolomic analysis to determining the key ingredients having biological functions in the complicated food matrix.


There are several hypotheses that explain the process of acute inflammation, including free radical overproduction, pro-inflammatory enzyme activation, and release of pro-inflammatory cytokines. In this study, the protective role of ellagic acid against carrageenan-induced acute inflammation was assessed. In addition, the immunomodulatory action, the antioxidant effects, and the role of COX-2 and NF-κB were also investigated. Inflammation was induced by the injection of 100 μl of 1.5% carrageenan solution. Ellagic acid (10, 25, 50, 100 and 200mg/kg), indomethacin (10 mg/kg), meloxicam (4 mg/kg), and saline, were injected 2h before carrageenan injection. The percentage inhibition in the paw weight was calculated. Paws, MDA, NO, GSH, IL-1β, TNF-α, IL-10 and NF-κB mRNA expression were estimated. Formalin fixed hind paws were used for histopathological examination and immunohistochemical staining for COX-2 expression. Ellagic acid, meloxicam and indomethacin reduced paws, edema, MDA and NO formation. In addition, all of them restored the depleted GSH contents in the paws. Ellagic acid, meloxicam and indomethacin reduced NF-κB mRNA expression. Ellagic acid ameliorated COX-2 expression; meloxicam inhibited while indomethacin failed. Both ellagic acid and meloxicam increased IL-10 while indomethacin did not. The docking study revealed a high affinity of ellagic acid towards COX-2. Ellagic acid exhibited a potent anti-inflammatory effect against carrageenan-induced inflammation. The mechanisms of ellagic acid induced protection were proved to be due to reduction of NO, MDA, IL-1β, TNF-α, COX-2 and NF-κB expression and induction of GSH and IL-10 production.

Ellagic acid (EA) has shown antinociceptive and anti-inflammatory effects. Inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS), cyclooxygenase 2 (COX-2) enzymes and also cytokines play a key role in many inflammatory conditions. This study was aimed to investigate the mechanisms involved in the anti-inflammatory effect of EA.


Carrageenan-induced mouse paw edema model was used for induction of inflammation.


The results showed that intraplantar injection of carrageenan led to time-dependent development of peripheral inflammation, which resulted in a significant increase in the levels of tumor necrosis factor α (TNF-α) and interleukin 1 (IL-1) β, nitric oxide (NO) and prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) and also iNOS and COX-2 protein expression in inflamed paw. However, systemic administration of EA (1-30 mg/kg, intraperitoneal [i.p.]) could reduce edema in a dose-dependent fashion in inflamed rat paws with ED50 value 8.41 (5.26-14.76) mg/kg. It decreased the serum concentration of NO, PGE2, aspartate aminotransferase and alanine aminotransferase, and suppress the protein expression of iNOS, COX-2 enzymes, and attenuated the formation of PGE2, TNF-α and IL-1 β in inflamed paw tissue. We also demonstrated that EA significantly decreased the malondialdehyde (MDA) level in liver at 5 h after carrageenan injection. Moreover, histopathological studies indicated that EA significantly diminished migration of polymorphonuclear leukocytes into site of inflammation, as did indomethacin.


Collectively, the anti-inflammatory mechanisms of EA might be related to the decrease in the level of MDA, iNOS, and COX-2 in the edema paw via the suppression of pro-inflammatory cytokines (TNFα, IL1 β), NO and PGE2 overproduction.

Fish oils (e.g., cod liver oil) have been proposed as a reasonable alternative for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and other conditions as a consequence of the fact that they provide less cardiovascular risk than other treatments including NSAIDs.

Natural COX inhibition

Culinary mushrooms, like maitake, may be able to partially inhibit COX-1 and COX-2.[3][4]

A variety of flavonoids have been found to inhibit COX-2.[5]

Fish oils provide alternative fatty acids to arachidonic acid. These acids can be turned into some anti-inflammatory prostacyclins by COX instead of pro-inflammatory prostaglandins.[6]

Hyperforin has been shown to inhibit COX-1 around 3-18 times as much as aspirin.[7]

Calcitriol (vitamin D3) significantly inhibits the expression of the COX-2 gene.[8]

Caution should be exercised in combining low dose aspirin with COX-2 inhibitors due to potential increased damage to the gastric mucosa. COX-2 is upregulated when COX-1 is suppressed with aspirin, which is thought to be important in enhancing mucosal defense mechanisms and lessening the erosion by aspirin.

Pharmaceutical inhibition of COX can provide relief from the symptoms of inflammation and pain. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as aspirin and ibuprofen, exert their effects through inhibition of COX. Those that are specific to the COX-2 isozyme are called COX-2 inhibitors.

In medicine, the root symbol “COX” is encountered more often than “PTGS”. In genetics, “PTGS” is officially used for this family of genes and proteins, because the root symbol “COX” was already used for the cytochrome c oxidase family. Thus the two isozymes found in humans, PTGS1 and PTGS2, are frequently called COX-1 and COX-2 in the medical literature. The names “prostaglandin synthase (PHS)”, “prostaglandin synthetase (PHS)”, and “prostaglandin-endoperoxide synthetase (PES)” are older terms still sometimes used to refer to COX.

Connie’s comments: My 81 yr old mother had been drinking her red wine during the last 15 years and she did not drink the red wine on her 18 trip to the Philipines. Sitting for long hours with her tired body, she could not walk on her arrival to Manila airport and was hospitalized for 2 days. She always tells me that red wine at night help ease some of her aches and pain for a day’s hard work. She takes 1 Aleve once a month or when her pain is unbearable but I always caution her about its side effects.