MoonDragon's Health & Wellness
(Agave Americana / Century Plant)
"For Informational Use Only"
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AGAVE HERBAL DESCRIPTION
AN ORNAMENTAL ALOE VERA SUBSTITUTE
Agave is also known as Agave americana, Century plant, Maguey, Lechuguilla, Mescal, Metl, Tlacametl and Teometl. Agave americana was one of the many species described by Carl Linnaeus in the 1753 edition of Species Plantarum, with the binomial name that we still use today.
Agave is a succulent perennial with large rosettes of sharply-toothed leaves that can reach six feet in height. Native American legend says the plant lives for hundreds of years before it flowers, which is why it is named Century Plant, although the number of years before flowering occures, depends on the vigor of the individual plant, the richness of the soil and the climate. During these years the plant is storing in its fleshy leaves the nourishment required for the effort of flowering. Although the Century Plant does not really take a century to bloom, it does take 10 years or so in warm regions and as much as 60 years in colder climates. This plant dies after blooming (a condition called monocarpic), but produces offsets or "pups" throughout its life and these remain to continue the lineage.
The Aztec and Mayan Indians used the sap of Agave with egg whites to bind powders and gums in pastes and poultices for use on wounds. The Aztecs also used it for diarrhea and dysentery. Agave is a close relative to Aloe Vera and each can be used as a substitute for the other when the need arises. Agave americana and other species this is used by the Mexicans to make their national beverage, pulque. The flower shoot is cut out and the sap collected and subsequently fermented. By distillation a spirit called mescal is prepared. This is one of the most well-known forms of mescal, it is tequila, but has also been used as a source of medicine. It has antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, demulcent, diuretic, laxative, and restorative properties. The Native Americans of Mexico used the Agave to make pens, nails and needles, as well as string to sew and make weavings. In India the plant is extensively used for hedges along the railroads.
AGAVE PLANT GROWTH & CULTIVATION
The Agave plant requires a very well-drained soil, slighty acidic, sandy or gravely soil, and a sunny position. The Agave is not very hardy in Britain, but it succeeds on the South Coast of England from Torbay Westwards. Though these plants love the sun and the warmth, they will survive in a colder climate. The original habitat for this plant is unknown. It does grow wild in Mexico on clutivated land and in pine woods. The Century Plant occurs naturally in arid areas of Mexico. Agave americana, commonly known as the century plant, maguey, or American aloe (although it is in a different family from the Aloe), is an agave originally from Mexico but cultivated worldwide as an ornamental plant. It has since naturalized in many regions and grows wild in Europe, South Africa, India, and Australia.
The flower stalk may reach up to 8 meters (28 feet) in height. The misnamed century plant typically lives only 10 to 30 years. It has a spreading rosette about 4 meters (13 feet wide) of gray-green leaves up to 2 meters (6.6 feet) long, each with a spiny margin and a heavy spike at the tip that can pierce to the bone. When it flowers, the spike with a cyme of big yellow flowers may reach up to 8 meters (26 feet) in height. Its common name likely derives from its semelparous nature of flowering only once at the end of its long life. The plant dies after flowering, but produces suckers or adventitious shoots from the base, which continue its growth.
Century Plants are often used for fencing in Mexico and Central America. A dense hedge of these spiny succulents is impermeable to cattle and people. As an ornamental, Century Plant usually is cultivated and grown in rock gardens, in cactus and succulent gardens, in Mediterranean style landscapes, in borders, or as a specimen. It tends to take over the landscape where ever it is grown. Agave americana is cultivated as an ornamental plant for the large dramatic form of mature plants - for modernist, drought tolerant, and desert style cactus gardens. This plant is only watered in summer, do not water in cold winter time. Agave has escaped the cultivation / tilling and become established in the Mediterranean region of Africa and Europe. The plants can be evocative of 18th to 19th century Spanish colonial and Mexican provincial eras in the Southwestern United States, California and xeric Mexico.
AGAVE USES, HEALTH BENEFITS, & SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE
AGAVE HEALTH & MEDICAL USES
The demulcent properties of Agave help protect the mucous membranes and encourage healing. This plant is used to treat ulcers, check the growth of putrefactive (the decomposition of organic matter) bacteria in the stomach and intestines, and other inflammatory ailments of the intestines, stomach, and mouth. It also works well in treating eye inflammations, bronchitis, arthritis, and heavy menstrual flow. Poultices of Agave can be used to treat skin infections and inflammations. The juice can be applied directly to cuts, sores, and wounds to aid in healing. This juice can also help when taken internally for indigestion, flatulence, constipation, diarrhea, jaundice and dysentery. Steroid hormone precursors are obtained from the leaves. The sap of the Century plant is used as a diurectic and a laxative. A gum from the root and leaf is used in the treatment of toothache. The root can also be used in the treatment of syphilis.
AGAVE CULINARY USES
If the flower stem is cut without flowering, a sweet liquid called aguamiel ("honey water") gathers in the heart of the plant. This may be fermented to produce the drink called pulque. In the region of Tequila, agaves are called mezcales, and the high-alcohol product of their distillation is called mezcal. A higher grade of mezcal, called tequila, is produced from Agave tequilana, commonly called "blue agave". Mezcal may contain the mezcal worm, which pulque and tequila do not. Mezcal and tequila, although also produced from agave plants, are different from pulque in their technique for extracting the sugars from the heart of the plant, and in that they are distilled spirits. In mezcal and tequila production, the sugars are extracted from the pinas (or hearts) by heating them in ovens, rather than by collecting aguamiel from the plant's cut stalk. Thus if one were to distill pulque, it would not be a form of mezcal, but rather a different drink.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN TEQUILA & MEZCAL
Many people have been fooled by myths or marketing tactics that arenít necessarily true when it comes to the difference between Tequila and Mezcal. The true difference between Tequila and Mezcal are given below and what makes each special.
Mezcal is a Mexican distilled spirit that is made from the Agave plant. It can be produced from up to 28 varieties of Agave and is made around the city of Oaxaca but it can also be produced in some areas of the states of Guerrero, Durango, San Luis Potosi and Zacatecas. Most Mezcals are made from the Espadin Agave, although some Mezcal producers blend Agave varieties to create a distinct flavor.
Mezcal traditionally has a very unique, smoky flavor that makes it fairly easy to distinguish from Tequila. It also tends to taste sweeter, or richer, than tequila. Some mezcal producers have adopted production processes similar to Tequila, and the resulting mezcal has flavor profile similar to Tequila.
Mezcal is widely known for the Agave "worm" that floats toward the bottom of the bottle. It is primarily a marketing gimmick to help boost sales, especially in the United States and in Asia. In fact, it is not a "worm" at all, but one of two insect larvae (a caterpillar of a night butterfly or the larvae of the agave snout weevil) that can infest yucca and agave plants.
Tequila is also produced from the agave plant however, there are differences in production technique and in the types of agave used. Tequila is made from a single type of agave plant - the Agave tequilana (Blue Agave) - and can only be produced in the state of Jalisco and in small parts of four other states.
Tequila never (ever!) has a worm in the bottle!
Agave salmiana is processed differently than Agave tequiliana. As the plant develops, it starts to grow a stalk called a quiote. The stalk is cut off before it fully grows, creating a hole in the center of the plant that fills with a liquid called aguamiel. The liquid is collected daily. The complex components of this liquid are broken down into fructose and dextrose. An alternative method used to process the agave juice without heat is described in a United States patent for a process that uses enzymes derived from the mold Aspergillus niger to break down the polyfructose extract into fructose. A. niger fermentation is "generally recognized as safe" (GRAS) by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Agave nectar, also called agave syrup, is marketed as a natural sugar substitute with a low glycemic index that is due to its high fructose content. It is a sweetener commercially produced from several species of agave, including Agave tequilana (blue agave) and (Agave salmiana). Agave nectar is 1.4 to 1.6 times sweeter than honey and tends to be thinner and flow more freely than honey. It is often substituted for sugar or honey in recipes. In cooking, it is commonly used as a Vegan alternative to honey for those who choose to exclude animal products from their diets.
Most agave nectar comes from Mexico and South Africa. To produce agave nectar from the Agave Americana and tequiliana plants, the leaves are cut off the plant after it has aged seven to 14 years. The juice is then extracted from the core of the agave, called the pina. The juice is filtered, then heated to separate the complex components (the polysaccharides) into simple sugars. The main polysaccharide is called inulin or fructosan and is mostly fructose. This filtered juice is then concentrated to a syrupy liquid, slightly thinner than honey. Its color varies from light, amber, to dark-amber and raw varieties, depending on the degree of processing. Light agave nectar has a mild, almost neutral flavor, and is therefore sometimes used in delicate-tasting dishes and beverages. Amber agave nectar has a medium-intensity caramel flavor and is therefore used in dishes and drinks with stronger flavors. Dark agave nectar has stronger caramel notes and imparts a distinct flavor to dishes, such as some desserts, poultry, meat, and seafood dishes. Both amber and dark agave nectar are sometimes used "straight out of the bottle" as a topping for pancakes, waffles and French toast. The dark version is unfiltered and therefore contains a higher concentration of the agave plant's minerals. Raw agave nectar also has a mild, neutral taste. It is produced at temperatures below 118°F (48°C) to protect the natural enzymes, so this variety is an appropriate sweetener for raw foodists. Because agave nectar dissolves quickly, it can be used as a sweetener for cold beverages such as cocktails, smoothies and iced tea. It is added to some breakfast cereals as a binding agentt.
AGAVE NECTAR COMPOSITION
Agave nectar consists primarily of fructose and glucose. One source gives 92 percent fructose and 8 percent glucose; another gives 56 percent fructose and 20 percent glucose. These differences probably reflect variation from one vendor of agave nectar to another. The impact of agave nectar on blood sugar (as measured by its glycemic index and glycemic load) is comparable to fructose, which has a much lower glycemic index and glycemic load than table sugar (sucrose). However, consumption of large amounts of fructose can be deleterious and can trigger fructose malabsorption, metabolic syndrome, hypertriglyceridemia, decreased glucose tolerance, hyperinsulinemia, and accelerated uric acid formation.
AGAVE OTHER USES
The leaves also yield fibers, known as pita, which are suitable for making rope, matting, coarse cloth and are used for embroidery of leather in a technique known as piteado. Both pulque and maguey fiber were important to the economy of pre-Columbian Mexico.
The plant figures in the coat of arms of Don Diego de Mendoza, a Native American governor of the village of Ajacuba, Hidalgo state.
DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION
Agave comes in various forms and is an ingredient in many products.
For best results, read and follow product label directions. If unsure please contact your health care provider for more information.
AGAVE SAFETY, CAUTIONS & INTERACTIONS
Agave is generally regarded as safe for consumption and for use as a medicine.
Exceeding the recommended doses of this plant can cause stomach upset. Exceeding the recommended doses for a prolonged period can lead to liver damage.
For those with sensitive skin, using Agave topically can cause irritation. If you come in contact with the plant, the fresh sap can cause dermatitis in sensitive people, wearing rubber gloves can be usefull in handling the plant. The sap is quite acidic and can be quite painful if it comes in contact with the skin. It can form small blisters.
Do not use Agave internally if you are pregnant.
AGAVE HERBAL PRODUCTS
QUALITY PRODUCTS & SUPPLEMENTS
AGAVE HERBAL PRODUCTS
MOUNTAIN ROSE HERBS PRODUCTS
Mountain Rose Herbs: Ayate Agave Fiber Soap Pouch Body Crystal, Natural Bath & Bathing Products
This is a wonderful exfoliating soap cloth which is easy to use, made from renewable sources and lasts for up to 1-2 years. Simply tuck a bar of soap into the opening and pull the drawstring to close. Made from 100% natural fiber, Ayate cloth softens when wet, is mildew resistant, and may be washed with normal laundry.
Mountain Rose Herbs: Ayate Agave Fiber Washcloth, Body Crystal, Natural Bath & Bathing Products
Grown, harvested and woven in Mexico, this natural fiber washcloth serves as a useful tool for every natural home. Ayate cloth is from 100 percent dried Agave fiber, and when soaked in water, its natural fibers soften, expand, and then the weave tightens back to improve its strength and pliability. A gentle exfoliating cloth that stimulates the skin to a smooth invigorating freshness without the harsh feel sometimes associated with natural fiber washcloths. Ayate cloth is mildew resistant, lasts up to 1-2 years, and may be washed with normal laundry. Measures 12 x 12-inches when expanded.
STARWEST BOTANICALS PRODUCTS
Starwest Botanicals: Sisal Bath Strap, 24 x 5-inches
A bath strap from the natural fibers of the desert agave plant. For bath beauty care and massage. Sisals natural fibers provide a stimulating cleansing massage, the bath straps extra long length and handles make scrubbing the back a simple task. The bath strap can also be used for all over body cleansing.
HerbsPro: Agave Powder, Organic Natural Sweetener, FunFresh Foods, 16 oz
HerbsPro: Organic Blue Agave Nectar, Unflavored, FunFresh Foods, 16 oz.
Made from agave grown in the nutrient-rich volcanic soil of Mexico, our organic blue agave nectar contains fructose and inulins. Agave nectar has a low glycemic index and releases energy gradually. We add organic natural maple flavor for an authentic taste.
HerbsPro: Organic Blue Agave Nectar, Maple, FunFresh Foods, 16 oz.
Made from agave grown in the nutrient-rich volcanic soil of Mexico, our organic blue agave nectar contains fructose and inulins. Agave nectar has a low glycemic index and releases energy gradually.
HerbsPro: Amber Agave Nectar, Certified Organic, Now Foods, 17 oz.
Certified Organic Amber Agave Nectar is a natural liquid sweetener extracted from the Agave plant. At approximately 1.4 times the sweetness of white sugar, Agave Nectar serves as an ideal way to sweeten coffee, tea, smoothies, sports drinks, and other popular beverages. Amber Agave Nectar has an exotic taste that contains overtones of maple and honey, making it perfect for use on cereals, pancakes and waffles, or in recipes for baked goods and sauces. Amber Agave Nectar has a low glycemic index rating, will not solidify at room temperature, and can be used in virtually any application that calls for sugar.
HerbsPro: Amber Agave Nactar, Organic, Low Glycemic Sweetener, Now Foods, 23.28 fl oz
HerbsPro: Light Amber Agave Nactar, Organic, Low Glycemic Sweetener, Now Foods, 23.28 fl oz
HerbsPro: Organic Coconut & Agave Super Food Bar, Raw Revolution, 1.8 oz. (Case of 12)
Kalyx: Agave Nectar Sticks, Stash Tea, 20 Count: K
Agave Nectar is a natural sweetener made from the juice of the agave cactus, a plant native to Mexico. It has a pleasent flavor and is sweeter than sugar with a similar consistency to honey. With a 72% fruit sugar content, Agave Nectar absorbs more slowly into the body decreasing the highs and lows associated with sugar. Its low glycemic index may be suitable for diabetics. Agave Nectar is also a vegan friendly honey subsitite. Simply pop opent he ends to stir natual goodness ito your tea. The perfect small gift. Makes a great stocking stuffer or a sweet addition to gift baskets. Box of 20 sticks. Kosher certified.
Kalyx: Organic Raw Blue Agave Nectar, Wholesome Sweeteners, 11.75 oz, Case of 6: GR
Raw Blue Agave nectar is lightly filtered and gently processed at a low temperature and is a product of Central Mexico. This nectar has a mellow, rich sweetness that is perfect for fruit and beverages. Each case consists of six, eleven and three quarter ounce packs.
Kalyx: Organic Raw Blue Agave Nectar, Wholesome Sweeteners, 23.5 oz., Case of 6: GR
Raw Blue Agave nectar is lightly filtered and gently processed at a low temperature and is a product of Central Mexico. This nectar has a mellow, rich sweetness that is perfect for fruit and beverages. Each case consists of six, twenty three and a half ounce packs.
Kalyx: Organic Raw Blue Agave Nectar, Wholesome Sweetener, 5 gallons: GR
Raw Blue Agave nectar is lightly filtered and gently processed at a low temperature and is a product of Central Mexico. This nectar has a mellow, rich sweetness that is perfect for fruit and beverages. Each case consists of 5 gallons.
Kalyx: Agave (Agave americana) Whole Plant Powder, 1 kg (2.2 lbs): RF
Kalyx: Agave (Agave americana) Whole Plant Powder Extract 4:1, Kalyx, 1 kg (2.2 lbs): RF
Nutrition Basics: Agave Herbal Information
AROMATHERAPY: ESSENTIAL OILS DESCRIPTIONS & USES
Allspice Leaf Oil Angelica Oil Anise Oil Baobab Oil Basil Oil Bay Laurel Oil Bay Oil Benzoin Oil Bergamot Oil Black Pepper Oil Chamomile (German) Oil Cajuput Oil Calamus Oil Camphor (White) Oil Caraway Oil Cardamom Oil Carrot Seed Oil Catnip Oil Cedarwood Oil Chamomile Oil Cinnamon Oil Citronella Oil Clary-Sage Oil Clove Oil Coriander Oil Cypress Oil Dill Oil Eucalyptus Oil Fennel Oil Fir Needle Oil Frankincense Oil Geranium Oil German Chamomile Oil Ginger Oil Grapefruit Oil Helichrysum Oil Hyssop Oil Iris-Root Oil Jasmine Oil Juniper Oil Labdanum Oil Lavender Oil Lemon-Balm Oil Lemongrass Oil Lemon Oil Lime Oil Longleaf-Pine Oil Mandarin Oil Marjoram Oil Mimosa Oil Myrrh Oil Myrtle Oil Neroli Oil Niaouli Oil Nutmeg Oil Orange Oil Oregano Oil Palmarosa Oil Patchouli Oil Peppermint Oil Peru-Balsam Oil Petitgrain Oil Pine-Long Leaf Oil Pine-Needle Oil Pine-Swiss Oil Rosemary Oil Rose Oil Rosewood Oil Sage Oil Sandalwood Oil Savory Oil Spearmint Oil Spikenard Oil Swiss-Pine Oil Tangerine Oil Tea-Tree Oil Thyme Oil Vanilla Oil Verbena Oil Vetiver Oil Violet Oil White-Camphor Oil Yarrow Oil Ylang-Ylang Oil Aromatherapy
Healing Baths For Colds
Using Essential Oils
AROMATHERAPY: HERBAL & CARRIER OILS DESCRIPTIONS & USES
Almond, Sweet Oil Apricot Kernel Oil Argan Oil Arnica Oil Avocado Oil Baobab Oil Black Cumin Oil Black Currant Oil Black Seed Oil Borage Seed Oil Calendula Oil Camelina Oil Castor Oil Coconut Oil Comfrey Oil Evening Primrose Oil Flaxseed Oil Grapeseed Oil Hazelnut Oil Hemp Seed Oil Jojoba Oil Kukui Nut Oil Macadamia Nut Oil Meadowfoam Seed Oil Mullein Oil Neem Oil Olive Oil Palm Oil Plantain Oil Plum Kernel Oil Poke Root Oil Pomegranate Seed Oil Pumpkin Seed Oil Rosehip Seed Oil Safflower Oil Sea Buckthorn Oil Sesame Seed Oil Shea Nut Oil Soybean Oil St. Johns Wort Oil Sunflower Oil Tamanu Oil Vitamin E Oil Wheat Germ Oil
HELPFUL RELATED MOONDRAGON NUTRITION BASICS LINKS
MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics Index MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Amino Acids Index MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Antioxidants Index MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Enzymes Information MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Herbs Index MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Homeopathics Index MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Hydrosols Index MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Minerals Index MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Mineral Introduction MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Dietary & Cosmetic Supplements Index MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Dietary Supplements Introduction MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Specialty Supplements MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Vitamins Index MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Vitamins Introduction
NUTRITION BASICS ARTICLES
MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: 4 Basic Nutrients MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Avoid Foods That Contain Additives & Artificial Ingredients MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Is Aspartame A Safe Sugar Substitute? MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Guidelines For Selecting & Preparing Foods MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Foods That Destroy MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Foods That Heal MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: The Micronutrients: Vitamins & Minerals MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Avoid Overcooking Your Foods MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Phytochemicals MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Increase Your Consumption of Raw Produce MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Limit Your Use of Salt MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Use Proper Cooking Utensils MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Choosing The Best Water & Types of Water
RELATED MOONDRAGON HEALTH LINKS & INFORMATION
MoonDragon's Nutrition Information Index MoonDragon's Nutritional Therapy Index MoonDragon's Nutritional Analysis Index MoonDragon's Nutritional Diet Index MoonDragon's Nutritional Recipe Index MoonDragon's Nutrition Therapy: Preparing Produce for Juicing MoonDragon's Nutrition Information: Food Additives Index MoonDragon's Nutrition Information: Food Safety Links MoonDragon's Aromatherapy Index MoonDragon's Aromatherapy Articles MoonDragon's Aromatherapy For Back Pain MoonDragon's Aromatherapy For Labor & Birth MoonDragon's Aromatherapy Blending Chart MoonDragon's Aromatherapy Essential Oil Details MoonDragon's Aromatherapy Links MoonDragon's Aromatherapy For Miscarriage MoonDragon's Aromatherapy For Post Partum MoonDragon's Aromatherapy For Childbearing MoonDragon's Aromatherapy For Problems in Pregnancy & Birthing MoonDragon's Aromatherapy Chart of Essential Oils #1 MoonDragon's Aromatherapy Chart of Essential Oils #2 MoonDragon's Aromatherapy Tips MoonDragon's Aromatherapy Uses MoonDragon's Alternative Health Index MoonDragon's Alternative Health Information Overview MoonDragon's Alternative Health Therapy Index MoonDragon's Alternative Health: Touch & Movement Therapies Index MoonDragon's Alternative Health Therapy: Touch & Movement: Aromatherapy MoonDragon's Alternative Therapy: Touch & Movement - Massage Therapy MoonDragon's Alternative Health: Therapeutic Massage MoonDragon's Holistic Health Links Page 1 MoonDragon's Holistic Health Links Page 2 MoonDragon's Health & Wellness: Nutrition Basics Index MoonDragon's Health & Wellness: Therapy Index MoonDragon's Health & Wellness: Massage Therapy MoonDragon's Health & Wellness: Hydrotherapy MoonDragon's Health & Wellness: Pain Control Therapy MoonDragon's Health & Wellness: Relaxation Therapy MoonDragon's Health & Wellness: Steam Inhalation Therapy MoonDragon's Health & Wellness: Therapy - Herbal Oils Index
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