Avocado (Persea americana) is a fruit tree native to South American countries. The avocado fruit is sometimes referred to as a superfood due to its unique nutritional composition. I hope you have eaten avocados at one point in time. The pulpy fruit is tasty, creamy and healthy. I am not going to talk about how people usually corrupt avocados by adding sugar. Because that’s a story for another day. However, avocado leaves are one underrated part of the avocado plant.
Avocado leaves have many health benefits and medicinal properties. They are an important herbal medicine in Ayurvedic medicine. You can also describe them as a natural ingredient for herbal medicine. The leaves are rich in phytonutrients that benefit your body. We can use avocado leaves as a functional food thanks to the phytonutrients. Avocado leaves have high antioxidant properties. This is the reason they are called natural antioxidants. And for a good reason too as you will see later on.
Avocado leaves are empirically used as :
- Diuretic (keeping the body’s osmotic balance)
- Analgesic (pain killers/ relief)
- Antiinflammatory remedy
- Antihypertensive (remedy for high blood pressure)
- Hypoglycemic (blood sugar lowering/ antidiabetic)
- Diarrhoea remedy
- Sore throat remedy
- Haemorrhage cure
Some of my relatives used to drink avocado leaf tea for hypertension. Back then, I just thought they were crazy. Because to me, there was no way a fruit tree’s leaves would lower blood pressure! I was a true definition of knowledge deficiency.
Also read: Avocados cause bloating: Why
Avocado leaves health benefits and medicinal properties
An anti-inflammatory remedy
Several studies show that avocado leaves can relieve inflammation. These leaves have potent anti-inflammatory properties.
Dried avocado leaves contain persin and trihydroxyheptadene. These compounds inhibit the formation of superoxides and nitric acid. Superoxides and nitric acid play a part in triggering inflammation in the body.
Avocado leaves can act as cancer chemopreventative agents. Especially inflammation-related organ damage and cancers.
Avocado leaves have antiviral activities
Research shows that avocado leaves can help you fight viral infections. Extracts from avocado leaves show activities against several viruses. These include:
- Herpes Simplex Virus type 1
- Anjeszky’s disease virus
Avocado leaf extracts impair viral replication. This prevents the viral cells from excessively multiplying inside your body.
Quercetin and its related compounds as well as afzelin play a part in the antiviral activities.
You can therefore use avocado leaves to boost your resistance to viruses. In cases of HIV, the leaves can minimise the damage done by the virus. Several studies support the avocado leaf antiviral activities.
Avocado leaf extracts can act as pain relievers. This analgesic activity is dose-dependent. This means a higher dosage has a better effect.
According to studies, avocado leaves show analgesic activities. And the analgesic activities are comparable to those of aspirin and morphine.
Its important to note that some pain killers are addictive. You can use this herbal remedy as a pain remedy for minor problems. This reduces your risks of being addicted to pain killers.
Avocado leaves also help in inhibiting swelling. Studies show that their inhibitory effect is higher than that of indomethacin.
Blood pressure-lowering activity (hypotensive activities)
Avocado leaves can help you in controlling your blood pressure. The leaves have blood pressure-lowering activities.
One thing I like about such herbal remedies is that they have minimal side effects. Most of the conventional hypotensive drugs have serious side effects. I have seen people stroking and losing motor skills after stopping hypertension medication. These herbal remedies can also help minimize the damage done by such medications.
Avocado leaves have anticonvulsant activities
Avocado leaves can also help you in the treatment of convulsions. Convulsions and seizures are very dangerous health problems. I have seen many fatal accidents happen due to these conditions.
Avocado leaves are effective on both petit and grand types of epilepsy. The leaves help to delay the onset of convulsions. They also help in reducing the duration of your seizures and convulsions.
Oral intake of extracts from avocado leaves provides antiulcer activities. The effects were shown to be dose-dependent. So, if you have ulcers you can try these avocado leaves as a remedy. You may need to talk to your doctor first.
However, studies show that avocado leaf extracts have antiulcer activities. If we combine that with the analgesic properties, they can help reduce ulcer related pain.
Also read: Avocado nutrition facts and health benefits
Liver protective effects and anti toxicity
Avocado leaves can help modulate and induce activities of the body’s antioxidant enzymes. These enzymes form part of the body’s antioxidant defence mechanisms. The leaf extracts induce the activity of superoxide dismutase and catalase. They also induce the activities of glutathione peroxidase. These enzymes are very important for your liver to fight toxicity.
The enzymes help in intracellular activities for fighting oxidative stress. Oxidative stress can cause organ damage and it has to be contained. Antioxidant protection is provided by both internal systems and dietary components. Internal antioxidant defence is done partly by these enzymes.
All these activities show that avocado leaves can help in antioxidant defence mechanisms. They can help protect against liver linked diseases, toxicity and oxidative damage.
Avocado leaf extracts help in your body’s antioxidant defence mechanisms. This is beneficial in fighting against oxidative damage. As I explained earlier, they help protect from liver and organ damage. They also help fight oxidative stress caused by toxicity and ageing.
Avocado leaves are rich in phenolic compounds. These compounds protect your body from lipid-induced damage. They also help neutralise oxidative free radicals. Phenolic compounds also inhibit key enzymes linked to Alzheimer’s disease. And avocado leaves have a very high phenolic content. These compounds are very important for their antioxidant properties.
In addition to antioxidant activities, avocado leaves phenolics also provide:
- Reduce risks of getting cancer
However, you need to be extra careful with your drying process for avocado leaves. Lower temperature and air drying are better to retain most of your phenolic compounds.
Flavonoids also have antioxidant activities. They help arrest the damaging effects of oxidative free radicals. The usual good sources of flavonoids in the diet are red wine and tea. However, avocado leaves also have a higher flavonoid content.
Avocado leaves are also a good source of vitamin C which is a potent antioxidant. However, it’s very easy to damage this vitamin. This is because vitamin C is sensitive to shear forces and high temperatures.
Antidiabetic/ hypoglycemic activities
Avocado leaves can help you lower your blood sugar levels. Maximum antidiabetic activities were shown after 6 hrs of the first dose. This means you have to take your avocado leaf tea before you eat. This herbal remedy can help you in controlling your blood sugar levels. And it can help you prevent your blood glucose levels from overshooting. Care has to be taken when using this remedy. This is because the remedy can lower sugar levels beyond recommended levels.
Studies also show that flavonoids may inhibit glucose absorption. This results in reduced risks of blood glucose and insulin spikes after meals. And may help improve insulin sensitivity. The flavonoids also increase the body’s tolerance to glucose. The common avocado leaf flavonoids include luteolin, rutin, quercetin and apigenin. These compounds also act as insulin mimetics. Because they stimulate glucose uptake by peripheral tissues in your body. This helps lower your blood glucose levels.
All this gives P. americana leaves powerful anti-diabetic effects.
Studies show that avocado leaf extracts can cause a reduction in body weight. This is because the leaf is rich in bioactive compounds. Some of these help in burning accumulated fat in your body. Especially the fat accumulated in your adipose tissue. So, it means compounds in avocado leaves can burn fat in the adipose tissue. This results in a decreased body weight.
Weight loss may also be induced through the inhibition of carbohydrate absorption. This is due to the presence of flavonoids. Studies show that flavonoids inhibit carbohydrate absorption.
Avocado leaves help in cholesterol regulation
Avocado leaves are rich in phytosterols, saponins, polyphenols, flavonoids and ascorbic acid. Most of these compounds have antioxidant activities. Some like flavonoids can regulate cholesterol metabolism in the body. They also offer improved antioxidant status in hypercholesterolemia conditions. These are damaging conditions where you have too much cholesterol in the body. An improved antioxidant status can help protect you from damage.
Antipyretic compounds help in lowering elevated body temperatures. They help in dealing with fevers and infection-induced higher temperatures.
Avocado leaf tea has antipyretic activities. The stems and leaves of avocado plants can reduce your body temperature. This is because they have compounds that inhibit prostaglandin synthesis. Prostaglandins are localised hormones. Some of them play a part in pyresis. Avocado leaf flavonoids and saponins have strong antipyretic activities.
Anticancer activities of avocado leaves
Cancer is one problem that modern medicine has failed to deal with. I have several traditional healers that are helping cancer patients. Surprising, some of the patients are recovering. Studies show that avocado leaf extracts have anti-cancer properties.
The avocado leaf extracts play a part in the process of apoptosis of cancer cells. This is the process where the body kills its cells because of several reasons. This can happen because the cells are old, damaged, infected or cancerous. Cancer cells always find a way to evade the natural process of apoptosis.
Avocado leaf extracts also contain scopoleptin a plant coumarin. This compound helps reduce carcinogen-induced toxicity in the body. This results in reduced risks of you getting cancer. It also helps inducing apoptosis on cells showing cancer invasion markers.
Persin a compound in avocado leaves has helpful synergistic effects with tamoxifen a cancer drug. Which means it may help improve the effectiveness of the cancer drug.
Traditionally avocado leaf decoctions are used to treat tumours and tumour-related diseases.
Several studies show the anti-cancer activities of avocado leaf extracts on
- Larynx cancer cells
- Breast cancer s
- Cervical cancer cells
- Lymphoblastic leukaemia cells
- Skin papilloma cells.
How do you use avocado leaves
- Dried leaf teas (use low temperature to dry the leaves and then crush them into a powder)
- Leaf extracts ( water infusions, warm-water teas)
- Leaf decoctions ( boil your dried or green leaves in hot water for more than 5 minutes)
- Ethanolic extracts (crush leaves soak in diluted alcohol (dilute strong alcohol or beer)). Dilute this before taking it.
Caution: Too much avocado leaf can be harmful don’t go beyond a single cup per day. Also, this is not medical advice, however, if you chose to try the herbal remedy, try with small amounts first.
- The phytochemical and pharmacological profile of P americana.
- Polyphenolic profile and antioxidant properties of Avocado leaf.
- Avocado leaves: Influence if drying on polyphenolic content
- Phytochemical and antioxidant activity of avocado leaf extract.
- Profiling of analgesic, antipyretic, antihypertensive and anti-inflammatory activities of P americana
- The Odyssey of bioactive compounds in avocados and their health benefits.
As you can see, avocados have many health benefits. It’s not too late to start taking your avocado leaf tea to boost your overall health. You can use this with other green teas or alone. Avocado leaves have anticancer, antioxidant, antidiabetic, antipyretic, antiulcer and anti-inflammatory properties among other health benefits.