The medicinal power of potato

On the one hand, we all know the potato. But there are sides of the potato that we don’t know. The potato is a medicinal food! It must be admitted that there are foods with many more medicinal properties than the potato, but this popular vegetable number one should not be missing from a complete list of medicinal vegetables. Raw potato can be used both internally and externally as a medicine. Internally it helps with heartburn, stomach pain and stomach ulcers and externally with burns, among other things. NB! This article is written from the personal view of the author and may contain information that is not scientifically substantiated and/or in line with the general view.

Botanical drawing of potato / Source: Amédée Masclef, Wikimedia Commons (Public domain)

Contents:

  • History of potato
  • Naming
  • Active substances
  • Potato juice for heartburn
  • External use potato
  • Dose and safety
  • Potato is not only healthy
  • Potato and autoimmune diseases
  • Visit a doctor or herbal therapist

History of potato

The Indians in the area now called Chile cultivated the potato. The wild potato does not taste nearly as good as the fully grown potato. In 1553 it was announced in Spain that a type of truffle had been found in South America; the Spaniards confused the potato with a type of mushroom. That is where the name Kartoffel in German comes from, which is the direct translation of tartuffel. The potato was already widely eaten in Italy at the beginning of the 17th century. Initially, attempts to popularize the potato in Europe failed. At some point, a pharmacist in France came up with a trick. He planted potatoes in a field and posted signs indicating that it was a new, valuable crop that could not be stolen. Within a short time, all farmers from miles around switched to growing potatoes. In the Netherlands the story goes that the farmers were initially not very happy with the potatoes. However, they are said to have eaten the berries of the potato plant and become ill. Out of anger about this bad crop, they decided to burn the first harvest. When the fire was extinguished, it was seen that the animals were eating the tubers, i.e. the potatoes. These had been cooked by the fire. People then also started eating the potatoes and liking them.

Naming

In Latin, the potato is called Solanum tuberosum . The potato used to be known in Dutch as: Dollebeien, Kartoffen, Patatten, Piepel, Piepers and Aardbuil. Tuberosum means truffle or tubers; that is a logical name for this underground growing crop. However, the name solanum is not easily interpreted; Scientists from all over the world are confused about where nightshade plants have been given the name solanum or ‘of the sun’.

Potato varieties / Source: Scott Bauer, USDA ARS, Wikimedia Commons (Public domain)

Day and night are united in the nightshade family. Now it is true that there are healthy edible nightshades and unhealthy poisonous ones. Perhaps the namesakes wanted to express this difference in the contrast between the family name and the species name.

Active substances

The tuber or root tuber of potatoes is used for phytotherapeutic purposes. It contains the following important nutrients: minerals in the form of calcium, phosphorus, potassium and iron, vitamins A, B1, B2, B3 and C. Furthermore, the potato contains minimal amounts of steroid alkaloids such as alpha-solanine and alpha-chaconine.

Potato juice for heartburn

Juice from a raw potato is alkaline and can therefore neutralize stomach acid. When potato juice is drunk in moderation, it can structurally combat stomach acid problems. There are also other ways to prevent heartburn; it is good to use this alternately with drinking potato juice. Purslane, cauliflower, seaweed and hemp seeds are foods that can prevent heartburn. Chewing a piece of licorice is a well-known remedy to get rid of an acute stomach acid problem. When potato juice is used, it is half mixed with water or possibly juice from a type of cabbage. Potato juice, from raw potatoes, can be made by herbalists

Solanum tuberosum or potatoes / Source: Public domain, Wikimedia Commons (PD)

are prescribed for:

  • Pyrosis or heartburn,
  • Gastralgia or stomach pain,
  • Prevention of gastric and duodenal ulcers.

External use potato

The scrapings of potatoes, or grated raw potatoes, are used for skin problems.

  • Hematomas or bruises
  • Black eye,
  • Burns,
  • Eczema,
  • Hordeolum or stye.

Dose and safety

A glass of raw potato juice, half mixed with water, three times a day is the maximum dose. Instead of water, juice from any type of cabbage can be added. Sprouting potatoes and green potatoes should always be avoided due to their excessive alpha-solanine and alpha chaconine content. These are toxic substances, alkaloids with harmful effects. These substances are risky for everyone, but especially for pregnant women because they can cause damage to the fetus in the form of deformity. When these substances are ingested in excessive quantities, the following symptoms may occur, which are referred to as potato poisoning:

  • Fever,
  • Confusion,
  • Sudden low blood pressure,
  • Accelerated breathing.

Potato is not only healthy

The potato is not only healthy. For example, potatoes may contain solanine. Normally, this unhealthy substance is not or hardly absorbed into the blood, but people with autoimmune diseases have a reduced functioning of the gastrointestinal tract, which means that toxins such as solanine may be absorbed into the blood. In addition, it is unwise to take too much solanine because some of it always ends up in the blood. Green potatoes should be avoided at all times.

Potato and autoimmune diseases

A potato may not always be healthy for people with an autoimmune disease. If you have an autoimmune disease and want to know whether the symptoms are aggravated by potatoes or other nightshade vegetables, do the following: first stop eating nightshades for four weeks, so do not eat goji berries, eggplant, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, hot pepper, and derived products such as ketchup, tomato soup, tomato puree, fries, cayenne pepper, sambal and eggplant mousse. If symptoms diminish, this is an important indication that you should avoid this food. Then on a good day you just eat potatoes and tomatoes as before. If the symptoms occur to an increased extent, you know that you should definitely stop eating nightshade vegetables in order not to worsen your condition.

Visit a doctor or herbal therapist

Much of the information about the medicinal plant mentioned in this article comes from the book Groot Handboek Medicinal Plants by Geert Verhelst. That is a handbook in phytotherapy. However, it is not suitable for self-healing. Anyone who suffers from something should consult a doctor or herbal therapist for a good diagnosis and choice of the best remedies, tailored to your personal situation. The knowledge and science mentioned here is of a purely informative nature.