Potatoes are the edible, starchy tubers of Solanum tuberosum, a plant species of the nightshade family Solanaceae.
They are widely cultivated all over the world, due to their nutritional value and incredible culinary versatility. But potatoes have curative and cosmetic properties as well, so they can be used to treat a wide variety of both medical and aesthetic conditions.
Potatoes come in many different sizes, colors and textures depending on the variety. The larger sizes are mature potatoes, while the smaller ones are new potatoes.
The thin skin can be yellow, brown or reddish in color, while the starchy flesh is usually white or yellow and its texture can vary from waxy to floury. The texture affects how potatoes are best cooked.
Although we don’t eat potato in its raw form, it can be used for juicing and is beneficial for many ailments.
(Note: Potato juice is best extracted using a gear juicer.)
Potatoes are composed mainly of starch, a complex carbohydrate, and are virtually fat and cholesterol-free. They also contain good amounts of beta-carotene, vitamin A, C, vitamins of the B complex (B1, B2, B6, and folate), potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, sulphur and copper, as well as small amounts of fiber and protein (about 2.5 grams in a medium-sized potato).
Since most of the nutrients are contained in or just under the skin, it is important not to peel potatoes when juicing them. New potatoes are especially rich with all these nutrients.
Potatoes are nutritious and easily digestible, so they are suitable for all ages. They are diuretic, soothing, anti-spasmodic and help with digestion. Below are some therapeutic uses of potatoes:
Anemia: Potatoes are excellent sources of both iron and folate, which are essential for the production of red blood cells. For this reason potatoes can be used as a natural aid in the prevention or treatment of different forms of anemia.
Arthritis: Like rheumatism, arthritis is an inflammatory condition. The high minerals, potassium and organic salt content in potato makes it one of the best anti-inflammatory food. Slice a potato together with the skin and soak in a glass of distilled water. Drink in the morning before meal.
Burns, rashes and other skin irritations: When applied on the skin, raw potatoes (cut into slices or juiced) have anti-irritating, soothing and decongestioning properties. It can be used to treat a wide variety of skin irritations and conditions, including burns, rashes, as well as skin redness, itching and dehydration.
Constipation and hemorrhoids: Boiled or steamed potatoes promote the formation and passage of soft, hydrated stools. So they can be effectively used as a natural remedy to treat constipation, eliminate bowel straining and prevent hemorrhoids.
Gastritis and gastric ulcers: Perhaps the most common use of raw potato juice is to treat gastritis, colitis, gastric and intestinal ulcers, due to its anti-acid and healing properties. In these cases, to get the maximum benefit from potato juice, it is advisable to drink a half glass of it 3 to 4 times a day, for at least one month.
High blood pressure: Potatoes are excellent sources of potassium, which helps lower and stabilize blood pressure.
Joint and other types of pain: The regular consumption of raw potato juice is a valuable remedy in relieving pain associated with arthritis, gout and even headaches.
Rheumatism: The juice extracted from raw potato is an excellent remedy for rheumatism. It is very detoxifying for a toxic condition. Take 2 teaspoons of the juice before meal for best effect.
Tired eyes: Raw potato is really a useful aid for tired eyes. Apply thin slices of raw potato on the eyes at least twice a day, eyes dark circles will miraculously disappear!
Weight loss: It’s a myth that potatoes are fattening. It is the oil in fried potatoes that causes weight gain. Raw potatoes are an excellent alternative for cereals and grains in any weight-loss regimen, due to their lower calorie content.
When choosing potatoes, avoid those that have sprouted or those with a “green tint”. (See Caution below). Instead, choose new potatoes (smaller ones) which are harvested before they are fully mature. They contain the most nutrients.
Store potatoes in cool (not cold), dark and dry places to avoid premature sprouting and dehydration. Also avoid storing in the refrigerator as this will cause the starch content to turn into undesirable sugar.
Finally, avoid storing potatoes with onions like we always like to do. Each emit gases that are not conducive and will degrade each other. Check your potatoes regularly and remove those that have sprouted, spoiled and dried up so that they don’t affect the other good potatoes.
Potatoes are among the foods which pesticide residues are frequently found. Go for organic whenever possible. If not, soak them in water with apple cider vinegar and sea salt to remove the residues. Then use a vegetable brush to give a good scrub on the peel before using.
Avoid consuming potatoes that have sprouted, turned green or have dehydrated. These contain toxic alkaloid solanine that have undesirable taste and may cause circulatory and respiratory health symptoms like nausea, diarrhea, stomach cramps, headache, dizziness.