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AppleAPPLE

 

Common names

None

 

Medicinal parts

Fruit pulp and skin; never eat seeds

 

Description

Who can describe an apple? In shape, it can be round like a McIntosh or oblong like the Delicious. In size, it can vary from a 2-inch crabapple to a 6-inch Rome Beauty. The flesh may be white as a Wealthy, yellow as a Golden Delicious, crisp as a Northern Spy, mellow as a Baldwin, sweet as a Grimes Golden, or tart as a new Winesap. The apple's skin is thin and glossy, ranging in color from bright or russet red to yellow or bright green.

It might seem odd to include the apple in a book about herbal remedies, but originally, all plant-based remedies were considered to be "herbal," and the apple not only has a venerable tradition as a healing agent but also has recently been scientifically approved as such. We've all heard the old adage that "an apple a day keeps the doctor away," and recent studies support this nostrum-especially if the doctor in question is a gastroenterologist, cardiologist, or oncologist. Studies have shown that apples are good for treating both diarrhea and constipation and may be instrumental as a preventative for heart disease, some types of stroke, and even cancer.

The active ingredient in apple pulp is pectin, a soluble form of fiber. As an agent against diarrhea, pectin acts with the intestinal bacteria to create a soothing, protective coating for the irritated intestinal lining. One study shows pectin to be effective against diarrhea-causing bacteria, which explains why the "pectate" in the popular over-the-counter preparation for diarrhea. Kaopectate is pectin. For constipation, apple pectin adds bulk to the digestive system, which stimulates normal bowel contractions, making stool evacuation easier.

Pectin may be effective against heart disease and stroke because it helps reduce "bad" cholesterol by keeping it in the intestinal tract until it is eliminated. Fresh apples are especially recommended as a dessert in such cases. Also, according to the American Cancer Society, a high-fiber diet helps to prevent several forms of cancer, especially colon cancer. A study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute shows that pectin binds certain cancer-causing compounds in the colon, accelerating their removal from the body.

High-fiber diets are also recommended by physicians for their diabetic patients and several studies have shown that apple pectin can help control blood sugar levels in diabetics.

Apples are also used for internal cleansing. European studies indicate that apple pectin can help to eliminate lead, mercury, and other toxic heavy metals from the human body-so "an apple a day" is especially good advice for those living in polluted areas such as big inner cities. Eating raw apples also helps cleanse the teeth, an important health consideration, as many serious diseases have now been linked to unhealthy gums and teeth.

Not only does the tree's delicious fruit provide numerous health benefits, it gives us its leaves for use as a first-aid treatment for cuts and wounds. The leaves contain the antibiotic phloretin and can be crushed and pressed onto a cut or skin abrasion as a temporary measure.

Dosage

Use the entire fruit, peel and all, but never eat the seeds, which are poisonous. Unless you can obtain your apples from a certified organic source, wash them thoroughly in soap and water to remove pesticide residues; commercially produced apples are always raised with pesticides. Once cleaned, you can eat as many as you like, raw or cooked in various ways. Applesauce is a good treatment for diarrhea; a person suffering stomach upset may not want to eat raw food, and warm applesauce is soothing both to the tummy and the psyche.

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