Ellagic acid
Ellagic acid
This information describes the common uses of Ellagic acid, how it works, and its possible side effects.

How It Works

Ellagic acid is found in many foods that are part of a healthy diet, but there is no evidence to support its use for cancer treatment.

Ellagic acid is a naturally occurring compound called a tannin, found in red raspberries, strawberries, and walnuts. It has been studied in the laboratory, but not in humans. In laboratory animals, ellagic acid showed cancer-preventive properties. For example, rats fed ellagic acid before and during exposure to carcinogens (cancer-causing substances) developed fewer liver tumors than rats fed a normal diet. Similar results were shown in mice with lung or esophageal cancer. Scientists think that ellagic acid exerts these effects in two ways. First, ellagic acid enhances the activity of certain detoxification enzymes in the liver, speeding up the removal of dangerous substances from the body, while it also inhibits the cytochrome P450 liver enzymes and may prevent them from metabolizing carcinogens into more dangerous forms. Second, ellagic acid causes changes in the cell cycle of cancer cells in the test tube, leading to cell death.

Purported Uses

  • To prevent cancer
    Although experiments in the laboratory and in animals suggest that ellagic acid may have anti-cancer properties, these results are not always transferable to the human body. There are no data on the safety and efficacy of ellagic acid in humans.
  • To lower cholesterol
    One study found that consumption of a drink made with freeze-dried strawberry powder for 4 weeks lowered total cholesterol and LDL levels in obese women with metabolic syndrome. Further research is needed to confirm this effect.

Do Not Take If

  • You are taking drugs that are substrates of Cytochrome P450: (Ellagic acid may increase the risk of side effects of these drugs).