Because potatoes belong to the Nightshade family, many people mistakenly believe that they are toxic if eaten raw. Although the leaves, stems, and flowers/fruit of potato plants are quite poisonous to humans, eating raw potato, the actual potato tuber itself, is safe. They DO contain small amounts of alkaloids, but so do most vegetables – unless you eat mountains of raw potatoes toxic compounds will never build up in your body. The “raw potatoes toxic” story often does the rounds on forums, but people have been using potato juice for skin and arthritis treatment for hundreds of years.
Why are raw potatoes good for you? Everyone knows potatoes are very starchy and a great source of energy. But they contain much more – in raw form they are very rich in vitamin C and B-6 compounds, as well as calcium and magnesium. When you cook them you denature most of the vitamin content as well as any live enzymes. Eaten raw or juiced and drunk, potatoes yield a powerful natural remedy.
What is raw potato good for?
1. Treating skin conditions including eczema, burns, and dry/scaly skin: Crushed potatoes or fresh juice can be applied directly to skin, to effectively relieve and aid in repair of broken or stressed skin. Raw starch and organic acids coupled with dissolved calcium and magnesium act as an emollient, for a moisturising and soothing effect. Using potato juice for skin treatment is cheap too!
2. Anti-ageing effects: As above, raw potato juice for skin is a great natural remedy. By applying a layer of crushed or shredded raw potato to wrinkles and blemished skin, you can moisturise and rejuvenate your skin without creams or lotions.
3. Naturally treating Rheumatism: The potato juice benefits for arthritis sufferers are natural anti-inflammatory properties. Organic acids may play a part in this, but it is believed that the minerals in the juice (magnesium, calcium, potassium) play the most active role in reducing swelling and pain. A milder version of this tonic is to drink the water that was used to boil potatoes for eating – an age old remedy many people still swear by.
4. Digestive problems: Eating raw potato or using raw potato juice can be a good way to sooth stomach ulcers, and gastritis. Potato juice benefits probably exceed eating whole potatoes, since the liquid extract will more easily coat the lining of the stomach to provide relief. Many diets for ulcers include potato both cooked and raw for its soothing effects.
5. Treatment of scurvy: an extreme vitamin C deficiency can manifest itself as scurvy, and raw potato juice is a great way to treat this disorder. Being rich in vitamin C (and B-6) is what makes raw potatoes good for you if your body is malnourished or starved of vitamins.
To juice or eat raw? Eating chunks of any raw vegetable can be a bit daunting, especially if you are already not feeling well! I find that juicing potatoes and drinking the juice is a lot easier and nicer. It is no trouble to throw down a glass of juice – to get the same nutrition would require eating raw potato for about half an hour!
Does potato juice taste bad? I’ll be honest, it does not taste that great by itself! But it is certainly not undrinkable (I define undrinkable as the almost pure garlic and onion juice I once made). Raw potato juice is a sort of grey-light brown color, and tastes quite earthy and mild. Juicing some carrot or apple in with the potato makes it taste a lot better, and the potato juice benefits are only enhanced by the addition of extra nutrients from other raw foods.
Just remember, don’t eat potatoes that have gone green, and if in doubt peel them first. Juicing or eating the skins is only a good idea if you are sure the vegetables are very clean and from a good home – again, peel if in doubt. A slow speed masticating juicer works well (My old Lexsun single auger juicer does a great job), but a high speed juicer will work fine too.
You will find that potato juice oxidises very quickly, so drink it straight away if you can.