Potato peels can be used to cure hard-to-heal wounds. In third-world countries, health clinics are instructed to keep potatoes on hand, and to apply the peels to burns, cuts, and other wounds. Using potato peels underneath gauze keeps the wound moist, comfortable, and it’s easy to remove. The potato peels also appear to speed healing when compared to traditional methods of wound dressing.
One study suggests that the “active ingredient” in potato peels is steroidal glycosides. Steroidal glycosides are considered medicinal (ie. digitalis) or poisonous in large doses. The steroidal glycosides found in potatoes are called solanidine glycosides, this is the solanine that everyone in the Paleo world is deadly afraid of.
This solanine, when applied to wounds, seems to be quite protective. And why not? Potato peels protect potatoes from all manner of microbial attack while buried in dirt. The solanine is also said to have a slight pain-killing effect.
Really Bad Wounds
I’ll save you the gory graphics, but potato peels are being used to heal a condition called necrotizing fasciitis, better known as the flesh-eating bacteria. This condition is extremely hard to cure, owing to its bacterial nature involving the immune system. The lowly potato peel shows as good, or better, promise than the normal treatments: hyperbaric oxygen therapy, intravenous immunoglobulins, vacuum assisted/foam dressing, or guided tissue regeneration with amniotic dressings.
Glycoalkaloids present in potatoes such as alpha chaconine and alpha solanine are secondary metabolites which are toxic to microorganisms. Also these glycoalkoloids have beneficial properties like antipyretic, anti-inflammatory, and antibiotic activities against pathogenic bacteria, protozoa and fungi and hence can be used even when the wound is discharging pus.
These same scientists also recommend using raw potato peels for the toughest cases, and not the peels from boiled potatoes. Again, they cite the steroidal glycosides saying that not only do they kill pathogens, but also remove free radicals which cause inflammation.
And for the Inside, too!
These potato peels are quite amazing. The same properties that allow potato peels to heal wounds are also being studied as a way to treat other diseases caused by oxidative stress. One day, we might see potato peel pharmaceuticals to treat fatty liver, diabetes, and even cancer.
Potato peels get a bad (w)rap in the culinary world. But they are generally fine to eat and can even be used to treat wounds.