Medicinal Uses of Peaches Throughout History

When the world’s most famous alchemist, Albertus Magnus in his 1517 essay De Vegetabilibus et Plantis in his book Parra Naturalia claimed that peaches were good for the sex life, he was probably only confirming a belief that had been common in Europe for centuries. According to Poetry in the Song of Songs: A Literary Analysis, the Catholic scholar and writer, Conrad von Megenberg wrote that peaches were prescribed as an aphrodisiac for men whose passion was waning.

Gabrielle Hatfield, in Encyclopedia of Folk Medicine: Old World and New World Traditions, presents a very long list of ailments that the peach was used to treat.

As recently as the late 1800s, peaches were included in official medicine as a a treatment to get rid of worms in children. Going back further into folklore, there are reports that peaches were used in Europe and later in North America by the native peoples. Treatments were for many ailments including:

  • Thrush
  • Poison ivy and other rashes
  • Itching, insect bites, stings
  • Snake bites

Peach leaves, either in poultices or tea were used to treat:

  • Splinters
  • Boils
  • Baldness
  • Dandruff
  • Sore muscles
  • Burns
  • Jaundice
  • Stomach ache
  • Morning sickness during pregnancy

The bark of the peach tree was used to treat

  • Hearrburn
  • Dysentery
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation

Today, research is showing that certain natural chemicals in peaches do have medicinal value. AgriLife Research scientists say that the mixture of phenolic compounds present in the peach extract are responsible for the inhibition of metastasis (the spreading of cancer cells), according to the study, which was published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry.

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