Potato Uses, Remedies, Qualities


By Dr Renita D’Souza

Introduction

Potato (Solanum tuberosum) is a well-known food crop cultivated worldwide. Commonly known as White potato or Irish potato. Potato being stable food, it also possesses medicinal values. Fruits are not suitable for consumption as it contains the toxic alkaloid solanine. Potatoes are rich source of starch and this potato starch forms an adulterant of fine flours and starches. Potatoes also form an important source of alcohol. 

Botanical Name – Solanum tuberosum
Family – Solanaceae
Synonyms – Solanum andigenum, Battata tuberosa, Lycopersicon tuberosum (L. Mill.), Parmentiera edulis

Medicinal Qualities

Taste (Rasa) – Madhura (Sweet)
Quality (Guna) – Guru (heavy to digest), Ruksha (dry)
Potency (Virya) – Shitha (cold)
Action (Karma)
Vishtambhi – causes bloating
Srishta Mutra Mala – helps in formation and expulsion of urine and stools.
Durjara – Difficult to digest
Raktapittanut – useful in rakthapitta (bleeding disorders)
Balya – promotes strength
Vrishya – Aphrodisiac

Effect on Tridoshas
Kaph-anila kara – Increases kapha and vata dosha

Part Used

Tuber, Leaves

Botanical Description

Solanum tuberosum is a perennial bushy herb that grows up to 60 cm in height. Leaves are pinnate with a single terminal leaflet, leaflets usually 5-9, large, ovate with smaller leaflets in between. Flowers white, pink, red, blue or purple with yellow stamens. Fruits are spherical to ovoid berry, 2-4 cm in diameter, green colour, each containing 300 seeds. Rhizomes originate from basal stem nodes below the ground with up to 3 rhizome per node.

Distribution

Solanum tuberosum is a native of America and was brought into India by the Portuguese. It is cultivated around the world. It is best grown in cool climates.

‘Potato Meal’

Mueller (L. Klin. Woch) recommends potato meal to infants.

Preparation
Potatoes are well washed, cleaned and sliced.
These slices are then dries at a low temperature not exceeding 400C.
Slices which contain hulls are powdered, roasted slightly at 500 to 550C temperature.
At this temperature conversion of starch into dextrin takes place.

This powder contains natural constituents such as minerals, albuminoids and vitamins.
Reference – Indian Materia Medica, Vol 1 By A.K Nadkarni

Nutritional Values

Solanum tuberosum is composed of starch and rich in mineral such as potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, sulphur and copper. Vitamins present in potato are beta-carotene, vitamin A, C, B1, B2, B6, and folic acid.

Remedies

  1. Poultice prepared from potatoes boiled in water is used to boiling potatoes in water is used in rheumatic joints, swellings, skin rashes and haemorrhoids.
  2. Paste of uncooked potatoe is applied in burns and scalds as a soothing plaster.
  3. Potato skin is used in burns and swollen gums.
  4. In Constipation, boiled / steamed potato consumption will help in formation of soft stools and its easy expulsion. If consumed in excess it may cause flatulence.
  5. Raw potato juice is used to treat gastric and intestinal ulcers.
  6. Potato slices are kept over eyes to treat dark circles.
  7. In chronic cough, leaf extract is used. It acts as antispasmodic.

Pharmacological Activities

Solanum tuberosum possess Antioxidant, Anticancer, Antiallergy, Antibacterial, Anti-Inflammatory, Anti-Obesity and Anti-Ulcer Activity

Medicinal uses

Anaemia – Potatoes are rich iron and folic acid; hence it can be beneficial in Anaemia.
Burns, Rashes – Due to its soothing property, potatoes applied externally can be beneficial in skin irritations.
Gastritis, Colitis, Intestinal ulcers – It possess anti-ulcer and healing properties.

Chemical Constituents

Solanum tuberosum possess phytochemicals such as phenolic acids, flavonoids, phytates, folates, anthocyanins and carotenoids.

Controversy

Aaluka and its varieties mentioned in Bhavaprakasha Nighantu, is considered to be that of Dioscorea species.

Varieties

According to Bhavamishra, there are 6 varieties of Aaluka
1. Kaashtaaluka – Tubers are hard. In Hindi it is known as Kataalu
2. Shankhaaluka – white in color. Known as Shankaalu in Hindi
3. Hasthyaaluka – Large in size
4. Pindaaluka – Globular in shape. Commonly known as Suthani or Pindaalu.
5. Madvaaluka – It is sweet in taste and outter surface is hairy. It is known as Deerg suthani in Hindi
6. Raktaaluka – It is red in color. Commonly it is known as rakthaalu, rathaalu / rathanda.

Sanskrit Versus

References for Aluka in Ayurveda Briyattrayis

Acharya Charaka mentioned potato as most unwholesome among the tubers. (C.S Su 25/39).
Aaluka (Potato) is mentioned one among the shaaka varga (Vegetable) – (C.S. Su 27/98)
Acharya Sushrutha and Vagbhata have also mentioned this plant in S.S Su 46/298 and A .H Su 6/93 respectively.

Classical Categorization

Bhavaprakasha Nighantu – Shaaka varga

Scientific Classification

Kingdom – Plantae
Subkingdom – Viridaeplantae
Division – Tracheophyta
Subdivision – Spermatophytina
Class – Magnoliopsida
Order – Solanales
Family – Solanaceae
Genus – Solanum
Species – S. tuberosum

Vernacular Names

English Name – Potato
Sanskrit Name – Golakandah
Hindi Name – Alu
Gujrati Name – Papeta
Bengali Name – Golalu
Marathi Name – Batata
Malayalam Name – Urulakkilan
Kannada Name – Batate, Alugadde
Konkani Name – Botate
Tamil Name – Urulaikkizhangu, Urala-kalangu
Telugu Name – Bangaaladumpa, Urlagadda
French Name – pomme de terre
Portuguese Name – Batata
Spanish Name – Papa
Germany Name – Kartappe

Sanskrit Synonyms

Aaruka, Aarooka, Veerasena, Veera, Veeraaruka, Aaluka

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