Sliced beets

Beetroot, also known as Beta vulgaris, has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries. The root of the beet plant has a rich history of being used to treat a variety of health conditions, as well as being a staple food in many cultures.

The ancient Egyptians were some of the first to use beets medicinally, using them to treat a variety of ailments including constipation, fever, and skin conditions. The ancient Greeks and Romans also used beets for medicinal purposes, believing them to be a cure for a wide range of diseases.

In the Middle Ages, beets were used as a natural remedy for a variety of health problems, including anemia and digestive disorders. They were also believed to have aphrodisiac properties and were used to increase libido.

Two sliced beetroots

Components of Beetroot 

The medicinal properties of beets are largely due to the presence of compounds called betalains, which are responsible for the red color of beets. Betalains are a type of pigment that has been shown to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and detoxifying effects (3). Beets also contain other compounds that have medicinal properties, including flavonoids, which are known for their antioxidant effects (3), and saponins, which have been shown to have anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting effects (4).

One of the most well-known medicinal uses of beets is as a treatment for anemia. Beets are a rich source of iron, which is necessary for the production of red blood cells. By increasing the body's iron levels, beets can help to improve the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood, which can be beneficial for people with anemia (1).

Beets and Blood Pressure

Beet in a heart shape.

Beets have also been used for high blood pressure. The nitrates found in beets have been shown to relax and dilate blood vessels, which can help to lower blood pressure. In addition, the antioxidants found in beets can help to reduce oxidative stress, which is a contributing factor to high blood pressure. A study conducted by the Department of Exercise Science and Sports Studies at the University of Limerick found that consuming beet juice significantly lowered blood pressure in participants with high blood pressure (5).

Other Use of Beets

Beets have been used for digestive problems, such as constipation and indigestion. The high fiber content of beets can help to promote regular bowel movements (1), while the betalains found in beets have been shown to have a protective effect on the digestive tract (4).

In addition to their medicinal uses, beets have also been used for their cosmetic benefits. The betalains found in beets have been shown to have skin-brightening effects, and beets have been used to treat a variety of skin conditions, including acne, eczema, and psoriasis (3).

Beets have also been used as a natural food dye. The red color of beets can be used to add color to a variety of foods, including desserts, jams, and jellies (2).

Beet Powder

 

Overview

While beets have been used medicinally for centuries, it is important to note that more research is needed to fully understand the potential health benefits of beets. However, beets are a nutritious and delicious addition to any diet, and they may provide a variety of health benefits when consumed in moderation.

In conclusion, the history of beets for medicinal use dates back centuries, with various cultures utilizing the root of the beet plant to treat a wide range of health conditions. Today, beets are widely recognized for their numerous health benefits and are a popular choice for those looking to improve their overall health and well-being.

Sources

(1) Cunnane, S. (1995). Survival of the fattest: The key to human brain evolution. Hudson, NY: Lindisfarne Press.
(2) Foster, H. (1999). Herbal health care for women. New York, NY: Random House.
(3) Borrelli, F., Capasso, R., Aviello, G., Pittalà, V., Gallo, L., et al. (2015). The plant kingdom as a source of anti-inflammatory agents. Phytother Res, 29(2), 207-216. doi:10.1002/ptr.5260
(4) Sharma, P., Prakash, A., & Dubey, R. (2014). Saponins: A versatile class of natural compounds with diverse biological activities. International Journal of Biological Macromolecules, 68, 1-10. doi:10.1016/j.ijbiomac.2014.03.024
(5) Lau, B. H. S., Muhlhausler, B. S., & Smith, R. A. (2017). The effect of beetroot juice supplementation on blood pressure in healthy adults: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism, 2017, 1-11. doi:10.1155/2017/9591756