The very potent medicinal properties of the humble apple are often forgotten, despite the old adage that states "an apple a day keeps the doctor away." The apple is one of the most common fruits and has been a part of the human diet since antiquity. The scientific name of the apple is M. communis, and apples have been in cultivation since Roman times - the plant probably originates from somewhere in the Caucasus Mountains. In the ancient world, ripe apples were often used as a laxative, while, raw apples were used to counter diarrhea and related digestive disorders. According to a widely held ancient medical system, namely Galenical medicine, most apples were thought of as being cool and moist and good for digestion. Apple based juices and herbal fruit infusions were often prescribed for the treatment of persistent fevers and all kinds of eye infections in the ancient world.
Remedies prepared from the apples were also used many years ago to gain relief from metabolic disorders like the gout, for the treatment of bilious constitutions, to heal skin eruptions and to aid nerve impairment. All sorts of superstitious beliefs and traditions have been connected with remedies made from the apple, these beliefs gained ground as the remedies are so popular across the world. Apples mixed with saffron were often used by peasants of Westphalia to cure cases of jaundice decades ago. A legend connected to the healing ability of the apple is still extant in Devonshire, England; the belief is that an apple rubbed on a wart can make it disappear. Prussian peasants in one particular province used to eat an apple on Easter morning as an insurance against fever.
Apple therapy is still in use to this day; many doctors prescribe apple based remedies to treat stubborn cases of diarrhea in patients of all age groups - including babies and young infants. The apple is an ideal fruit for many infants and invalids as it is rich in so many of the essential vitamins and minerals, the apple is also a good food as the fruit sugar found in the fruit is in a predigested form.
Dieticians class apples to be an alkaline food based on their chemical content. Apples are also believed to be an eliminative food and possess large amounts of the plant pigment called pectin; this compound has the ability to soak up excess water present in the intestines. Pectin also forms a soft bulk in the stomach that acts as a mild and nonirritating stimulant to the digestive system. The stimulating effect of pectin aids the peristaltic movement of the alimentary canal and helps the natural bowel movement - aiding elimination of waste from the body.
Apples are not very high in the mineral iron; however, apples have a very beneficial ability in that they can aid the body efficiently absorb the iron found in all the other foods - including eggs and organ meats like liver. Apples are quite rich in their content of the essential mineral calcium. The calcium found in the apple helps the human system absorbing all the calcium found in different foods.
The vitamin A content of apples is fifty per cent higher than what is found in oranges and other citruses. Vitamin A is very helpful in warding off colds and all kinds of infections, it also promotes growth in the human body. Vitamin A is also essential to keep the eyes in good condition, sufficient vitamin A in the body prevents night blindness - night blindness is very common symptom of severe vitamin A deficiency.
All the essential vitamins are found in good amounts in the apple. Apples are very rich in their vitamin C content; this vitamin is necessary to keep the bones and teeth in sound condition and helps normalize the human body. Apples also contain large amounts of the vitamin B complex, these vitamins are essential to maintain proper nerve health. The essential vitamins and minerals found in apples are also effective at treating low blood pressure problems and in reducing the hardening in the arterial system - this is because most of these nutrients are potent purifiers of the blood. Apples also have a very beneficial effect on the functioning of the lymphatic system in general.
Everyone benefits from drinking apple juice - one of the healthiest fruit drinks around. Apple juice can be used to cleanse the body and should be included in the diet, the juice speeds up the bowel action. However, drinking a lot of apple juice will lead to the production of large amounts of gas, if the bowel action is impaired in any way. When used in an enema mixed with water, the juice or concentrate of the apples heals bowel irritation.
Homemade apple juice is preferably made using raw apples; this juice must be consumed immediately after it is prepared for maximum benefit. The peels of raw apples can be saved and used to prepare a herbal and healthy tea, this tea is considered excellent for the kidneys and should be used in treating chronic kidney problems. The herbal apple tea is easy to prepare as the only requirement is to steep apple peelings in boiling water. The taste of the tea can be enhanced by adding a little honey to the tea before it is consumed.
Apple contains sugars, fruit acids, pectin, vitamins A, B1, C, minerals.
Apple jelly with lemon verbena leaves
Chop the cored apples, and in a heavy enamel kettle, simmer them with the water until soft, about 25 minutes. Place the apples and juices in a jelly bag to drain overnight; set a glass bowl under the bag to catch the draining apple juice. It should make 10 cups.
Applesauce and raisin relish
Combine applesauce with raisins that have been soaked for 5 minutes in hot water, then drained. Add orange peel and crushed marjoram. Chill 2 hours before serving.