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Curative Properties of the Potato

Potatoes originated in the South American country of Peru. They were cultivated there by the Incas for over two thousand years before they were discovered by the Spanish conquistadors, who were exploring for gold and silver. Incan communities used potatoes for healing broken bones and relieving rheumatism and indigestion, and they were thought to be a major part of the Indians’ diet. When the conquistadors did not find the gold they were seeking, they starting shipping potatoes back to Spain in the 1530’s. However, potatoes were not trusted for food right away, as they are a part of a family of toxic plants called nightshades. In fact, some have commented that if potatoes were a modern find, they would be deemed unsafe for human consumption for this family relationship. It would take about 200 years for the potato to become a popular table item.

Potatoes are relatively inexpensive, grown rather easily, and have useful medicinal purposes, to boot. Since their introduction to Europe and their belated popularity, remedies from the once ignored potato have come from around the world, including Korea, Central America, England, and the United States, where the potato has been used to treat a variety of skin ailments. These treatments range from acne and warts to frostbite and burns. The National Potato Board has even recommended using peeled, shredded, and soaked potatoes as a facial mask for drying oily skin. Russian folklore has suggested that those over 40 should grate and eat a medium sized raw potato daily, before breakfast, to keep the arteries clear and increase blood flow to the heart. In some rural areas of England, those suffering from rheumatism still carry potatoes in their pockets, hoping that they will absorb some of the acid from their bodies. They are replaced every few days and the old ones thrown away.


Potatoes have been found to be a highly nutritious vegetable. Starch is the main component of potatoes, but they also contain small amounts of protein and alkaline salts. They are also rich in vitamin c, b-complex vitamins, and beneficial levels of the minerals iron, calcium, manganese, magnesium and phosphorus. Many of the nutrients in potatoes are found in their skin, so more benefits have been attributed to eating them whole as opposed to peeled.

Medicinal uses

Potatoes have many constituents including a host of tannins, flavonoids, and alkaloids. The tannins have a drying action which has been linked to relieving diarrhea. They have also been used externally for burns and inflammation. In folk medicine, the use of potatoes for bone and muscle pain is partially due to their ability to hold heat for long periods of time, allowing it to penetrate deep into ones tissues. The converse is also true, as they hold cold well and are also used as a compress for treating burns and scalding.

Successful experimental treatments for gout and rheumatism have been made in recent years from the juice of raw potatoes and using the vital mineral salts found in the water of boiled potatoes. Potassium, sulfur, phosphorus, and chloride in an uncooked potato are useful for treating acne blemishes; while their enzymes and vitamin c can nourish the skin, remove unhealthy tissues and make it younger looking. Folklore claims that an uncooked potato, freshly cut and placed on a wart several times daily, will remove it. This treatment has also been recommended for removing splinters and relieving bags under the eyes.

Potatoes should be omitted from the diet of those with venereal diseases and those who are prone to aphrodisiac tendencies as they contains an alkaloid toxin (solanine) which affects the sexual organs. Solanine poison is more prevalent in potatoes too green in color. The combination of cooked meat and the afore mentioned ‘too green’ potatoes cooked intensifies this poisonous actions. Together, with the presence of uric acid crystals resulting from the poor digestion of the meat, they may cause severe irritation of the sexual organs.