Potato (The information provided on this site is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for advice from your Physician or other health care professional. These are the forgotten recipes compiled by the author H.K. Bakhru an expert naturopath of India.) Description The potato is the most popular and widely used vegetable in the world. It is an annual plant, producing swollen underground stem tubers. This vegetable forms an indispensable item of daily food and is an important source of nutrition. Origin and Distribution The potato is a native of South America, where it has been cultivated from ancient times. It was introduced to Europe in the later-half of the 16th century. But nearly one hundred years, it was looked upon as a poisonous tuber. Its food value was realized only in 1771, when a prize was offered in France for the discovery of an article of food which could be used as substitute for wheat in times of famine. In the United States, potato was introduced by Irish immigrants in 1719. The Spaniards took it to Philippines at an early date. In 17 th century it was introduce in Asia and in 19th century in East Africa. The potato now exceeds all other crops in the world. Food Value Potato contains high nutritive value. Its chief food principle is starch, but it has a notable amount of protein of high biological value. It contains a substantial amount of alkaline salts. It is rich in soda, potash and vitamins A and B. Moisture 74.7% Calcium 10mg Protein 1.6% Phosphorus 40mg Fat 0.1% Iron 0.7mg Minerals 0.6% Vitamin C 17mg Fiber 0.4% Small amount of Carbohydrates 22.6% Vitamin B Complex Value per 100 gms edible portion Calorific Value – 97 The potato can be boiled, baked, steamed and cooked with other vegetables. But it should be cooked in such a way so as to retain all its excellent qualities. To secure its maximum value, it should always be cooked with its skin as the most nutritive part of the potato lies just below the skin and this particular layer is very rich in protein and mineral salt. Natural Benefits and Curative Properties The potato contains several medicinal virtues. As it is one of the most strongly alkaline foods. It is therefore, very helpful in maintaining the alkali reserve of the body and a natural antidote for an overdose of acid or acidosis. It dissolves away uric acid and lime. It is also important in preventing the fermentative process in intestine and it helps the growth of friendly bacteria in the digestive tract. However, potatoes should be avoided obese people as they are fattening. They should also be omitted from diet of those suffering from venereal diseases and those afflicted with aphrodisiac tendencies. The potato contains an alkaloid toxin known as solanine which affects the nerves controlling the sexual organs. The solanine poison is particularly prevalent in potatoes too green in colour. The combination of cooked meat and potatoes intensifies the solanine poison, which together with presence of uric acid crystals resulting from the ingestion of meat may cause excessive irritation of sexual organs. Potato Therapy An exclusive potato diet is considered valuable in the treatment of certain disorders such as chronic constipation, intestinal toxemia, uric acid diseases, Renal calculi or stone and dropsy. This diet may be employed with beneficial results for several months, if necessary. In the potato diet, potatoes can be consumed in its various preparations, such as baked, steamed and in soup form. When on potato diet, other vegetables which can be taken are spinach, beet tops, turnip tops, cucumbers, lettuce, celery, tomatoes and other green vegetables. Scurvy The potato is regarded as an excellent food remedy in scurvy. It has been noted that scurvy in Europe has become more and more uncommon with the progress of potato cultivation and it makes its appearance only when the drop fails. Dr. G.F.Still used “potato cream” in curing cases of infantile scurvy, while Dr. A.F. Hess used ordinary mashed potatoes for the same purposes. Rheumatism Raw potato juice is regarded as an excellent food remedy for rheumatism. One or two teaspoonful of the juice pressed out of mashed raw potato should be taken before meals. This will help eliminate an acid condition and relieve rheumatism. In some rural areas in Britain, it is a custom for rheumatic sufferer to carry a potato in their pockets, in the belief that the potato will absorb in itself some of the acid from the sufferer’s body. The old potato is replaced with a new ever few days. The skin of the potato is also an excellent food remedy for rheumatism. The skin is exceptionally rich in vital mineral salts and the water in which the peeling have been boiled is one of the best medicines for the ailments caused by excess of acid in the system. The potato peelings should be thoroughly washed and boiled for few minutes. The decoction should then be strained and a glassful of the same should be taken three or four times daily. Digestive System Disorders Raw potato is valuable in stomach and intestinal disorders. Stomach ulcers are treated with the juice of pink potatoes. Potato juice also relives gastritis. The recommended dose is half a cupful two or three times half an hour before meals. Potato starch is administered as an anti-inflammatory for gastro-intestinal diseases and toxins. Skin Blemishes The juice of raw potatoes has also proved very valuable in clearing skin blemishes. This cleansing results from high content of potassium, sulphur, phosphorus and chlorine in the potato. These elements are, however, of value only when the potato is raw as in this state they are composed of live organic atoms. In the cooked state, they are converted into inorganic atoms and are of little value for constructive purposes. The juicy pulp of the shredded raw potatoes can also be applied as a poultice in cleaning the wrinkles and other skin blemishes due to ageing. It may be ribbed on the face and other portions of body that have wrinkles before retiring for bed. It will help melt the wrinkles, banish age spots and clear the skin. The enzymes in raw potato pulp, combined with the vitamin C and the natural starch, helps create a ‘skin food’ that nourishes the starved cellular tissues of the skin. Furthermore, the alkaline juice of the potato promotes an antiseptic action that gives a glowing look of youth. Much of the decaying skin sloughs off by the acid portion of the pulp. Swellings Raw potato juice, externally applied in the treatment of swelling and other disordered condition of the joints and muscles. After extraction of the juice, it should be boiled down to about one-fifth of its original bulk. A little quantity of glycerin may be added as a preservative. It is used as liniment. It should be applied after fomentation of the affected parts and should be repeated every three hours until the pain and swelling are relieved.