Wednesday, September 28, 2016
PEACH –Prunus Persica, Amygdalis Persica, Persica Vulgaris, etc.
Also known as: Too (Chinese and Japanese), Persian Apple
Parts used: bark, leaves, fruit, seeds, flower
Systems/organs affected: respiratory, digestive, kidneys, skin, immune, cardiovascular, eyes, liver, nervous system, colon
Properties: demulcent, sedative (flowers), expectorant, diuretic, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-diabetic/obesity, aperient, aphrodisiac, antimicrobial, anthelmintic, astringent, anti-fungal, emmenogogue (seed)
PEACH is a member of the Rosaceae family. It has oblong pointed leaves with indented margins. The leaves dangle in groups of two or more while the beautiful light pink flowers bloom. The fruit has a fuzzy yet smooth surface and is a combination of yellow, orange and red in color. The inside offers a delicate yellow color and a lovely sweet flavor that encompasses a hard seed. It comes in a few different varieties; free stone, semi-free stone and cling stone. The cling stone variety has the flesh clinging to the pit of the peach. The semi-free stone is a hybridized version of the free stone and the cling stone and the put comes away freely from the center of the peach once it is ripe. Free stone peach pits come away easily without any prying. The pit contains a seed that is used in the place of almonds for almond oil when necessary as their components are virtually identical. (Who knew????)
The origins of the peach are unknown for sure but are believed to have come from China. Perhaps this is due to the writings of Confucius who spoke of the fruit tree around 5th century B.C. It is also found in Chinese art, especially on many of their vintage porcelain pieces. To the Asians the fruit represents long life, friendship, luck and protection. It was once referred to as the Persian apple by Alexander the Great who spoke of it in 392 B.C. to Theophrastus. The Romans brought it directly from Persia during Claudius reign (41-54 A.D.). The English didn’t start cultivating it until the early 16th century.
There are many ancient records that refer to the medicinal uses of the plant aside from it being a food. Peach leaves were used to get rid of worms, warts and to speed the healing of wounds. Culpeper used the dried leaves to stop hemorrhaging and an infusion of the leaves was used specifically for gastric issues as well as bronchitis and whooping cough. The infusion was also used to cleanse the kidneys. The bark was used for those things as well. The flowers were used for jaundice, general weakness and as a mild purgative (as a syrup and an infusion). The flower tincture was used to ease the pain of colic associated with kidney or bladder stones. Culpeper pulverized the seeds and boiled them in vinegar to make a thick paste that he used for patients with thinning hair or baldness. He also used the milk from the seeds to aid with sleep in the sickly. The oil from the seed he would apply to the temples for the same effect. The fruit itself was said to help ease ulcers and inflammation of the bowel, would help rid the body of toxins and assist in weight loss. Since peaches are easy to assimilate they are a great food for infants, small children and the elderly (who often suffer from digestive issues). Peach leaf extract has been found to be helpful for diarrhea, hepatitis, indigestion and dysentery.
A study done at Texas A&M found stone fruits (peaches, nectarines, plums, etc) to ward off cardiovascular disease, diabetes and metabolic syndrome (a cluster of conditions that increase one’s risk of getting diabetes, heart disease, stroke, etc). Dr. Luis Cisneros-Zevallos, an AgriLife food scientist, stated that stone fruits have phenol components that are anti-inflammatory and may help to reduce cholesterol. The most valuable of these phenols are the anthocyanins, catechins, chlorogenic acids and quercetins. These work synergistically to fight off a number of conditions and illnesses. Another study done by Texas A&M showed that the extracts of stone fruits were effective in killing the most aggressive breast cancer cells without harming healthy cells. Studies have also found that all diabetics blood sugar levels are better with consumption of peaches (meaning type 1 and type 2 diabetics both benefit from the ingestion of this fruit). This may be in part due to the fiber components of the fruit as well as the low glycemic index (listed between 35 and 42).
Peaches are an excellent source of valuable nutrients. They contain iron, choline, copper, phosphorus, manganese, potassium, zinc, magnesium, and the vitamins A, E, C, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9, K, calcium, lutein, lycopene, etc. They contain at least 2 grams of fiber per peach and are roughly 50-60 calories (depending on the size of the peach). Due to the nutrient value this also makes them valuable for healthy skin, collagen formation, vision health (3 or more servings of fruit a day has been found to reduce the risk of macular degeneration), heart health (those who consume more potassium are 49% less likely to die from heart disease), cancer prevention, stone formation, high blood pressure, cholesterol issues, etc.
This herb has been found to strengthen the nervous system, help with bronchial and skin conditions, protect one from environmental toxins, nausea, heartburn, headaches, allergic reactions, anxiety, morning sickness, hot conditions and with insomnia aside from its many other roles in health.
The best time to get peaches is between May and October. The bark is best harvested in the spring from young trees and dried in moderate heat then stored for later use. The leaves should be harvested between June and July. The seed is edible and is said to taste like almonds. The seeds are also said to be effective for menstrual disorders, asthma, acute appendicitis and circulation. Jethro Kloss said they could be used in the place of quinine for malaria. According to Michael Tierra, ND (author of The Way of Herb and Planetary Herbology), peach seeds are one of the strongest blood moving herbs which makes them useful for tumor reduction, etc.
Some fun facts you may not have known about peaches. August is National Peach month. Georgia is the peach state and is considered to have the best peaches but California produces 50% of America’s peaches. China is the world’s largest producer of peaches with Italy coming in second. The peach tree is considered to be the tree of life.
Peaches may cause food allergies (especially dried peaches which usually have sulfites as a preservative) so be aware of that if you are sensitive to those things. Peach seeds should also be consumed in small amounts as they do contain trace amounts of cyanide. Peaches should not be consumed in pregnancy as they can stimulate the uterus. Always consult a physician before beginning any herbal product or regimen.
As is customary with my posts I am including some interesting links below for your benefit. Enjoy and stay strong and healthy!