Carrots belong to the same botanical family as poison hemlock. It differs in that it has a purple stain in the center of its flower bouquet. Wild carrot has a woody, inedible root with the same health benefits of carrots that we farm today when applied in a poultice.
For centuries, medical practitioners have recommended carrots for cosmetic purposes, used in slices to the face. Today, we know that the many health benefits of carrots include achieving smoother skin, which is fundamentally due to the provitamin A it contains. Vitamin A is defined as the “beauty vitamin.”
Carrots Scientific Facts
- Synonyms: Beenest plant, bird’s-nest root, Queen Anne’s face
- French: Carotte
- Spanish: Zanahoria
- Habitat: Wild varieties are commonly found in meadows and prairies all over Europe. The cultivation of carrots is widespread across the globe.
- Description: Biennial plant of the family of Umbelliferae, growing up to 80 cm high, with leaves cut into subtle divisions and white flowers grouped in terminal bouquets (umbels)
- Parts Used: Roots and seeds
Health Benefits of Carrots: Preparation and Dosage
- Raw: Carrots, sliced or shredded, should be an indispensable ingredient in salads, which healthy people must eat every day. If you have a delicate stomach, eat finely grated raw carrot.
- Benefits of carrot juice: Drink it immediately after it is prepared, alone or mixed with lemon, cucumber, and apple juice, about half to one glass daily. It must be drunk over long periods (at least one month) to produce its beneficial effects. Provitamin A is not destroyed when cooked; however, the action of light degrades it.
- A herbal tea with carrot seeds: 20-30 g per liter of water. Three or four cups daily.
- Poultices of cooked and mashed carrots to soothe skin
Medicinal Properties and Indications
The root of carrots contains a large amount of pectin, a glycosidic substance with absorbent and antidiarrheic actions, various minerals, especially potassium and phosphorus, and trace elements with remineralizing and diuretic properties. Carrots also contain essential oil, which confers on the plant its peculiar aroma, vermifuge effects, and vitamins of the group B, some of the C, and generally carotene.
The carrot is one of the richest vegetables in provitamin A, only exceeded by alfalfa. Other significant sources of carotene are spinach, cabbage, apricots, tomatoes, and peppers.
Carotene, or provitamin A, is the most valuable active component of carrots. When it reaches the intestine, it is converted into vitamin A, also called retinol. Vitamin A plays fundamental roles in human physiology:
- In the mechanisms of vision in the retina
- In good condition of skin and mucous
- In the production of blood and antibodies (defenses)
Because of its high content in provitamin A, the carrot is beneficial when there is a lack of this critical vitamin due to an insufficient intake or an increase in needs. The symptoms or signs of a deficiency of vitamin A, which carrot helps to overcome, are the following:
- Vision disorders: Loss of visual acuity (nyctalopia) (problems with night vision), dryness of the anterior part of the eye, blepharitis (inflammation of the eyelids), chronic conjunctivitis, and keratitis (inflammation of the cornea), etc. Excellent results are obtained by an abundant consumption of carrots, which quickly improves visual ability when its loss is due to a lack of vitamin A.
- Carrot benefits for skin: Dryness, wrinkles, atrophy, acne. Carrots contribute very markedly to the beauty and health of skin, either when applied externally or taken orally. The smoothness they give is difficult to obtain with other cosmetic products.
There have been persistent cases of acne, which have improved after the lengthy treatments with carrots. It also gives strength to nails and hair and brightness to the latter.
- Mucosal variations: Vitamin A also plays a role in the balance of mucosas, which are membranes covering the center of ducts and organ cavities. It is useful in preventing kidney and gall stones, having been demonstrated that healthy mucosa precludes the formation of stones inside the urinary or bile ducts.
Vitamin A is also valuable in preventing sinusitis, nasal, bronchial, and pharyngeal catarrh because it augments organic defenses and strengthens the mucosa. It also improves the gastric mucosa functions by normalizing gastric juice production and collaborates to heal ulcers. Among the many health benefits of carrots includes easing stomach aches and any excess acidity.
- Metabolic and endocrine disorders: Anemia, growth retardation, hyperthyroidism, dysmenorrhea, nervous depression, and other conditions.
- Diarrhea and colitis: Especially in children due to the action of pectin. Grated or boiled carrots are best.
- Intestinal parasites: The essential oil that carrot contains is primarily active against pinworms. It is eaten raw or grated, from 0.5 to one kilogram in 24 hours as a single meal. Two carrots eaten for breakfast during a whole week are also useful.
- Growth: The Carrot is a proper medicine and food for children. Its juice can be drunk from the age of two months onwards, or even before: it augments defenses, prevents diarrhea, protects against parasites, stimulates growth, favors tooth growth, and strengthens teeth if, apart from drinking its juice, children under the age of four eat it. It is also useful in cases of celiac diseases.
- Depurating cures: Carrot alkalizes the blood and thus compensates and eliminates metabolic acid residue.
- Detoxification: It is entirely appropriate for those who wish to give up smoking, as it accelerates nicotine elimination. Its content in vitamin A regenerates the mucosal membrane of the respiratory system.
- Skin emollient: In external applications, in the form of poultices, it is used to heal infected wounds, burns, eczema, acne, abscesses, and a cosmetic potion to make the skin more beautiful.
The Health benefits of carrots also include the seeds. The seeds contain an essential oil that helps avoid intestinal gases. Also, carrot seeds are beneficial during menstruation, and they possess a mild diuretic effect, as occurs with many of the Umbelliferae family.
George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. “Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants.” George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants. Ed. Francesc X. Gelabert. vols. 1 San Fernando de Henares: Editorial Safeliz, 2000. 133, 134, 135. Print. [health benefits of carrots]