The name “carota” for the garden carrot is found first in the writings of Athenaes (AD 200) and in a cookery book by Apicius (AD 230). It appears Galen (AD 130-200) named it “daucus” to distinguish the carrot from the parsnip and in the eighteenth century, Daucus carota was adopted as the official botanical name.
In the 20th century, the discovery of vitamins and other substances in plant food revealed that the carrot we normally eat as a vegetable, can also act as a medicine. All parts of the carrot can be used – the aerial parts and seeds can be used as a tea and the root, as a poultice. Carrots are useful for those on a weight-loss diet, they are the main vegetable in raw juice therapy, and are the most non-allergenic of the root vegetables.
A rich source of carotene (vitamin A), carrots can not only help you see in the dark, but they keep the cellular system healthy and the digestive organs functioning efficiently; as well as promoting healthy growth and the development of strong, disease-resistant teeth.
Carrots are packed full of important minerals, such as potassium, calcium, iron, copper, phosphorus, iodine, magnesium and cobalt. In fact, their content of iodine makes them beneficial for the glands and, as there is 150mg of phosphorus in 500g carrots, they are excellent for the brain, particularly the memory.
As an antacid, carrots are recommended for heartburn and gastritis; they provide bulk in bowel disorders and can also be used to expel worms. The pulped root makes an effective first-aid poultice with drawing/soothing properties, particularly for itchy skin; plus carrots can help improve resistance to infection, increase the red blood cell count and are useful in cases of anaemia.
The late Dr H Vogel of Switzerland says: “Did you know that carotene, if taken plentifully, is able to prevent the formation of kidney stones? Another thing, a lack of carotene is one of the factors that contribute to greater susceptibility to infections, especially coughs and sneezes.
“Taking plenty of carotene helps to achieve a faster and more complete recovery in cases of pneumonia, various heart troubles, eczema and psoriasis. It is good for the eyes, helping to improve the eyesight and, if taken in sufficient quantities, it can overcome night-blindness and reduces the tendency to form cataracts.
“Carotene improves the function of the sex glands because it exerts a certain influence on the production of sex hormones.”
Who would’ve thought such a humble vegetable could provide so many health benefits!