By Hwaa Irfan
With all the varieties of foods that Allah (SWT) has made available to us, it still amazes me the range of distinguished flavors that He has given them. Strawberries are one of those foods which does have a flavor that is all its own, but how often do we consider the benefits of this sumptuous fruit when we sink our teeth into it! As the most popular fruit globally, it is classified by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition as the third highest along with other berries in antioxidants, Fragaria vesca as a wild fruit is native to the Northern Hemisphere, which was small. It was a turn of nature that the strawberry of the Northern Hemsiphere became the fruit we know today when a French engineer on his escapades in Chile and Peru in 1714, on a reconnoiter of Spanish activities brought back a variety native to Chile and Peru which did not flourish well until natural crossbreeding took place producing a larger, juicier, more fragrant, and a sweeter variety – this is what spread and became popular in Europe.
With a preference for growing in slightly shaded locations, the wild strawberry (also known as alpine strawberry) is small in comparison to the cultivated variety seen at the fruit and veg. vendors today, and at the supermarket (600 varieties with the most common being Fragaria virginiana and Fragaria chilioensis), which actually has less flavor. It grows as a tangle of vines with the fruit covering the ground flowering from May to November, with seeds ripening from June-November. The flowers have both male and female organs, and are pollinated by bees, flies, moths and butterflies. Although today one can find strawberries are in season throughout the year, their season is April – July. The wild strawberry (including the leaves) contains:
• Malic and citric acids
• Vitamin C
• Anthocyanins (gives the fruit its red color, and its strong antioxidant content which prevents cell damage)
• Ellagic Acid
• Vitamin B5
• Omega-3 fatty acids
• Vitamin B6
• Vitamin K
The rich iodine content is beneficial to the proper functioning of the brain and the nervous system, and the potassium and magnesium content is effective in lowering high blood pressure caused by sodium.
The high fiber, folate and anti-oxidants combination helps to protect the heart and to reduce bad cholesterol, while the Vitamin B’s present strengthens the cardiac muscle.
The leaves contain:
• Ellagitannins ( Agrimoniin, Pedunculagin, Proanthocyanins, Flavonoids)
• Salicylic Acid
• Caffeic Acid
• Chlorogenic Acid
The fruit and leaves act as an:
The anti-inflammatory properties of strawberry, Ellagitannins, Cyanidin and Anthocyanins (phenols) has the same effect as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin, which is to reduce the activity of the enzyme cyclo-oxygenase which when overactive leads to the inflammation common to rheumatoid and osteoarthritis, asthma, and atherosclerosis. However, unlike non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs strawberry does not cause intestinal bleeding.
As a calmative, strawberries have a calming effect on the liver, the spleen, and blood – and even an irritating stomach.
Strawberry along with other fruits, are considered to be anti-cancerous/carcinogenic. The combination of Vitamin-C, Folate and Anthocyanin, Quercetin and Kaempferol (flavanoids) makes strawberries a powerful anti-oxidant and anti-carcinogenic.
Three or four helpings a day, lowers the risk of having age-related macular degeneration by 36%, ARMD, the main cause of vision loss in older adults.
Overdose of Vitamin C supplements leads to osteoarthritis, but the high Vitamin C content in strawberries protects against inflammatory polyarthritis (rheumatoid arthritis in more than one joint)
It is affective in the curing of:
• Rheumatic gout
• Diarrhea (the leaves)
• Dysentry (the leaves)
• Discoloration of the teeth (the fruit)
The calming effect of the fruit and the leaves along with the astringent properties is what helps in the treatment of diarrhea and urinary tract disorders. In vitro studies have shown that strawberry extract can reduce cell proliferation of breast cancer cells and colon cancer cells. In cases of Thrombosis, the active ingredients ellagic acid, anthocyanins, catechins, quercetin and kaempferol combine to prevent the formation of platelets reducing the risk of heart disease, and also prevent the oxidation of cholesterol, and reduce the problem of plaque formation.
In Homeopathy characteristics of its growth give away the focus of the remedy ad with strawberry it is the shape and the color signifying the heart, blood, and the vine network indicating the bloods vessels.
In Vibrational Medicine, the common strawberry flower as a tonic relieves past obstacles to experiencing joy blocking behavior patterns from past actions that leads to a heavy feeling of guilt and difficulty in this life.
o The stem can be used to treat wounds by crushing and using as a poultice
o As a drink from the leaves it satiates thirst and is cooling in the heat, and cooling to the stomach.
o However, he had warned that consuming strawberries during the winter or on ‘cold stomach’ was a hazard as it could lead to cough and digestive disorders.
o As a tea (infusion of leaves from the wild strawberry) it can be used to check diarrhea, inflammation in the gastric tract, jaundice, and as a gargle for a painful throat and infections of the mouth. It also wakes up the appetite, and is a tonic to the blood.
o Eating fresh strawberries acts as a tonic on the liver, and cures gastritis. Also speeds up convalescence from hepatitis.
o Crushed strawberries can be used as poultice for sunburn due to its calmative effect.
o The fresh leaves can be used to make tea, and India they use the roots to make a coffee substitute.
o As a cosmetic, strawberries tones and whitens the skin (slice of strawberry rubbed over the face after washing) , combats wrinkles, lightens freckles, soothes sunburns and whitens teeth by re moving tartar if you leave the fruit on the teeth for at least 5 minutes.
When buying strawberries, they should firm, free of mold, shiny, with a deep red color and the attached green frond. Strawberries do not ripen further after picking, but like all things that have life, they do perish once detached from the life force. Strawberries remain fresh in the refrigerator for 2 days, but they should be washed, and dried beforehand.
Strawberries that have been processed, canned etc, lose their medicinal content.
Strawberries not organically grown contain pesticides, especially in the U.S., and should be avoided by those who have untreated kidney and gallbladder problems.
Gurudas. The Spiritual Properties of Herbs. Cassandra Press. U.S. 1988.
Allah’s Medicine Chest: Turmeric (Curcuma Longa)