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Superstitions & Taboos
Foods that are cultivated and used by humans for thousands of years sometimes acquire folklore and have superstitions attached to them. The apricot is one of them. This golden orange fruit with its velvety skin and sweet, fine, smooth textured flesh is steeped in multicultural folklore.
historian believe the much coveted golden apples of hesperides that Greek mythical hero, Hercules picked in his 11th labor is actually the apricot.
The English believe dreaming of apricots will bring them good luck.
We may laugh at this English superstition but in modern times, soldiers have attached superstitious taboos to apricot. Soldiering is high-risk work. Like their counterparts in the dim, distant past, they frequently observe taboos and engage in ritualized behavior- Especially in wartime. To protect themselves, American tank drivers will not eat apricots, allow apricots onto their vehicles, and often will not even say the word "apricot.” This superstition stems from Sherman tank breakdowns purportedly happening in the presence of cans of apricots
During WWII. A ship carrying apricots for the service men sank. All lives were lost. Soldiers blamed apricots for the tragedy. Today, the abhorrence of apricots is so strong that American amphibious assault crews in Kuwait have dubbed them the “A-word” or “Forbidden Fruit.”
On a more positive note, Europeans believe the apricot is aphrodisiac, and can improve fertility
The Chinese associated the apricot fruit with education and medicine
Chuang Tzu, a Chinese philosopher in 4th century BCE, had told a story that Confucius taught his students in a forum among a wood of apricot.
in the 3rd century AD, a Chinese doctor called Dong Feng, asked his patients to plant apricot trees instead of paying fees. After many years, such a huge number of apricot trees surrounded his house that it had became a forest. Thenceforth, when patients wanted to seek medical treatment, they said they wanted to go to Xing Lin (Apricot Forest).
This was how apricot came to be associated with medicine in China; but then, among various cultures apricot has enjoyed a status as a promoter of health and well-being.
TRADITIONAL THERAPEUTIC USES
For thousands of years healers have valued the apricot fruit, kernel, leaves, blossoms and oil for their medicinal properties. They used the various parts to treat cough, fever, skin problems and constipation. It is also used in cosmetic and toiletries
In folk medicine, apricot is used orally for infertility, eye inflammation, intestinal spasm, expel intestinal worms and parasites, gallstones and vaginal infections. The copper and high iron content makes it a suitable addition to the diet for people with anemia.
Apricot [prunus armeniaca] is a sub acid fruit. It is sour when unripe, gradually increasing in sweetness as it ripens. It nature is warming or yang.
The center of the fruit has a hard nut enclosing a droplet-shaped, reddish-brown seed. Its seed [called Xing Ren in Chinese] has a bitter and slightly sweet flavor. Apricot Seed acts on the meridian of the large intestines and lungs.
Ayurvedic doctors consider apricot seed to affect the doshas by Increasing Pitta, decreasing Kapha and Vata.
TREATS RESPIRATORY AILMENTS
TCM doctors include small amounts of Xing Ren in herbal formulations to stop cough and calm wheezing due to hot or cold patterns. It is also used in the treatment of bronchitis, asthma and Emphysema.
REDUCES DIGESTIVE PROBLEMS
Ripe apricot is rich in mucilage, which soothes and protects irritated or inflamed tissue. It reduces irritation down the whole length of the bowel. by reducing the sensitivity of the bowel from potentially corrosive gastric acids, it helps prevent diarrhea and reduce the muscle spasms that cause colic.
However, eating unripe apricot may have the opposite effect and cause diarrhea and gastric upset.
Apricot fruit is highly valued as a gentle laxative, which is beneficial in the treatment of constipation due to its insoluble fiber and soluble fiber, pectin The fruit provides bulk, helping to keep bowel movement regular, balances the PH level in the intestines and binds toxins for removal from the body.
If you suffer from chronic constipation, include apricot in your diet for relief. Normally, to be effective, one has to eat 6 to 8 fruits a day.
TREAT SKIN PROBLEMS
Process leaves in your juicer and apply externally to relief skin diseases like scabies, eczema, sunburn and cold rash.
Oil expressed from the kernel of the apricot nut is used in production of creams, balms, lotions and cosmetics. This finely textured oil spreads easily without leaving any greasiness. It is also used as carrier oil for other essential oils.
- apricot kernel oil is rich in essential fatty acids, vitamin A and E. Since it easily penetrates the skin, this oil is good for prematurely aged, sensitive, dry or irritated skin. The excellent softening and moisturizing properties is great for the face, hands and hair.
- The oil is antispasmodic and eases strained muscles.
- It is a soothing medication used to relieve pain in inflamed tissues of wounds. Traditionally Hunza people apply the kernel [which is rich in oil] to their open wounds
INHIBIT BACTERIA GROWTH
Researchers tested the validity of traditional usage of apricot seeds [bitter almond] for treatment of parasitic infections and skin diseases. They found bitter almond extract inhibited significantly the growth of the tested bacterial strains. Staphylococcus aureus was the most susceptible. They concluded, “Results from these findings suggest that this bitter apricot seeds extract may be used as natural antibacterial treatment for some diseases, especially topically.” - [Journal of Medical Sciences, 2008]
TOXIC CANCER FIGHTER
Scientists had extracted a cancer-fighting substance from apricot kernel called "amygdalin”, which was further refined into a drug called "Laetrile". Later it was found that the threshold dosage at which amygdalin really made a noticeable difference in fighting cancer was also the dosage at which it became toxic to the body. There were deaths among people who used therapeutic dosage of "Laetrile” or apricot kernel.
when ingested, the body converts amygdalin [a constituent of the kernel, bark and leaf] into toxic hydrocyanic acid. This is why only a small amount of bitter apricot seeds are used in herbal formulations. Young children should not take bitter apricot seed. Pregnant women and nursing mothers are advised to avoid it as well.
Excessive intake of the amygdalin contained in apricots kernel can cause cramps, vomiting, respiratory distress and in severe cases, nervous system depression and fatal respiratory failure.
Patients with diarrhea should not consume apricot seeds.
According to TCM, bitter almond [apricot seed] should not be combined with astragulus, skullcap, or kudzu root. The toxicological effects of overdose include dizziness, nausea, vomiting and headache. - http://jumblebox.webs.com/
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Vitamin-A in the fruit enhances or promotes good vision and reduces the risk of developing cataracts. It also promotes and protects brain cognitive functioning and memory.
The high content of magnesium and phosphorus also improves functioning of the brain.
The unique mix of compounds found in apricots makes this fruit a good choice for helping to fight heart disease. Along with potassium, apricots contain powerful anti-oxidants: beta-carotene, Vitamin C and lycopene. Combined, these compounds help protect against cancer, heart disease and stroke.
Apricots also contain salicylates - the basic ingredient of aspirin. Salicylates help reduce coronary disease by preventing blood cells from clumping and forming clots.
Magnesium in the fruit can also help to normalize blood pressure very effectively.
Apricot oil [extracted from kernel of the nut] is dominated by the presence of unsaturated fatty acids with oleic acid comprising 70 to 75 % and linoleic acid at 22%.
oleic acid, also known as Omega 9 fatty acid, is a mono-unsaturated fatty acid that is found in almost all natural fats. Oleic acid lowers the risk of a heart attack, arteriosclerosis, and aids in cancer prevention.
Linoleic Acid is a polyunsaturated fatty acid that is part of the Omega 6 fatty acids family. an essential fatty acid the body cannot produce, it is important for growth and development of infants.
Conjugated linoleic acid provides raw materials that help with blood clotting, blood pressure, inflammation, body temperature, and other body functions. Research showed it could reduce body fat. -The Journal of Nutrition Dec 2000,
Ailments Treated With Apricot
Traditional healers use apricot as an active constituent in their remedies to treat the following ailments:-
Muscular and joint problems:
strained muscles and joint pains, rheumatism
colic, diarrhea, flatulence, heartburn, loss of appetite, dyspepsia, constipation, bilious conditions, gallstone
Worms and parasitic infestation
infections- colds, eye inflammation, fever, bacterial infection,
Treats coughs, bronchitis, asthma, emphysema
pimples, acne, eczema, scabie, sores, wound, sunburn, cold rash, dry and sensitive skin
Anemia, infertility, vaginal infection, inflammation
Moisturize and soften skin
Expel intestinal worm
tonic to improve fertility of women
normalize PH of intestinal tract
Demulcent- (sooth and protect lining of intestines)
- Protein 1g 2%
- Total Carbohydrates 11g 3%
- Sugars 9g
Total Fat negligible
Vitamin A 38%
Beta Carotene 1094 mcg
- Lutein + Zeaxanthin 89 mcg
- Vitamin C 16%
- Vitamin E 2%
- Vitamin K 5%
- Thiamin 2%
- Riboflavin 2%
- Niacin 3%
- Vitamin B6 2%
- Vitamin B12 0%
- Folate 2%
Pantothenic Acid 2%
- Calcium 1%
- Iron 2%
- Magnesium 2%
- Phosphorus 2%
- Potassium 10%
- Sodium 0%
- Zinc 1%
- Copper 3%
- Manganese 3%
- Selenium 0%
[0% = Negligible amount]