Avocados are famed for their healthy fats and delicious taste but most people don’t realize they have many medicinal benefits as well. Not only have they been used throughout folk medicine but they are also currently being researched to unlock even more pharmacognosy secrets.
What folk medicine has to say:
Avocados can aid in the treatment of some dermatologic conditions. In folk medicine, raw mashed avocado has been used for the treatment of psoriasis, dermatitis, and eczema. Avocado oils have been used topically to treat wounds, infections and stimulate hair growth. They have a softening and soothing nature and can be used in face masks. They have a high absorption rate into the skin. This allows them to aid in driving other constituents into the skin as well.
Avocados can also help with systemic disharmonies. The seeds, leaves and bark have been used for dysentery and diarrhea. They can also aid in reproductive issues, stimulating menstrual flow and relieving PMS. Plus, they are an aphrodisiac!
What science has to say:
Cholesterol: The monosaturated fatty acids in avocados can improve total cholesterol. Total cholesterol combines HDL (high-density lipoprotein) and LDL (low-density lipoprotein). HDL is considered “good” cholesterol and is increased by monosaturated fatty acids, like those found in avocados. In a study from Mexico, the intake of avocado was linked to a significant decrease of serum total cholesterol (17%), LDL-cholesterol (22%) and triglycerides (22%), and an increase of HDL-cholesterol (11%). This study exemplifies the ideal result in high cholesterol management, not only did the total cholesterol, LDL and triglycerides go down, but the “good” HDL went up.
Numerous Cancer Fighting Constituents: Avocados are rich in antioxidants, lutien, carotenoids (eaxanthin, alpha-carotene, and beta-carotene), and Vitamin E (tocopherols). A 2005 in vitro study showed avocado extracts containing these carotenoids and tocopherols inhibit the growth of both androgen-dependent (LNCaP) and androgen-independent (PC-3) prostate cancer
cell lines. This means they could potentially aid in the prevention or treatment of prostate cancer. Avocados are also a rich source of beta-sisterol, which is believed to have both cholesterol lowering and anticancer effects.
Osteoarthritis Treatment: Avocados have unsaponifiables, which are also found in soybeans. Studies combining unsaponifiables from avocado and soybean oil have had positive results both in vitro and in human studies. In vitro, these unsaponifiables can reduce cytokines, prostaglandins and other inflammatory mediators. Inflammation is the body’s response to a threat and is a good thing when needed but hypersensitivities and chronic inflammation can lead to debilitating conditions like arthritis. By stopping the inflammation response, it can improve these symptoms.
So next time you’re munching down on guacamole, have an extra scoop!
- Lopez Ledesma R, et al, Monounsaturated fatty acid (avocado) rich diet for mild hypercholesterolemia. Arch Med Res. 1996 Winter;27(4):519-23.
- Lu QY, Arteaga JR, Zhang Q, Huerta S, Go VL, Heber D. Inhibition of prostate cancer cell growth by an avocado extract: role of lipid-soluble bioactive substances. J Nutr Biochem. 2005 Jan;16(1):23-30.
orginally published on naturalnews.com; also published on themercurial.com