Botanical: Beta vulgaris
Family: Chenopodiaceae (goosefoot)
Other common names: Garden Beet, Sugar Beet, Spinach Beet, White Beet, Mangel Wurzel, Sea Beet
Beet Root is a potent and nutritious source of natural energy and vitality. It is a great way to purify and build healthy blood and normalize the pH balance in our bodies. Moreover, clinical studies in Europe have demonstrated strong defense against malignant cell growth with the use of Beet Root. And just in case you thought you would have to endure seeing all the food on your plate turn bright magenta when served with Beet Root, you can now take an easy supplement to acquire all its many benefits.
The information presented herein by Herbal Extracts Plus is intended for educational purposes only. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent disease. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.
Beets are technically hardy biennials, but several species are treated as annuals by cultivators. It has large, thick, red-veined leaves and an enlarged, edible root that varies in size, and the plant may grow as high as four feet. The parent of all Beets, the wild Sea Beet, from which the most important varieties have been developed, are believed to have originated on the coastlines of Western Asia, the Mediterranean countries, and throughout Europe and Britain. The leaves were eaten as a vegetable, but the small, unappetizing roots, prior to cultivation techniques, were used primarily for medicinal purposes by ancient Greeks and Romans. It is difficult to date the exact use of the Beet, because, unlike seeds that may be found in archaeological sites, the root and leaves decay over time, but references of 300 B.C., claim that the Greeks cultivated the plant for its medicinal value and for its edible roots. Beet Root was so appreciated by the ancients that it was recorded as an offering on silver to the Greek god, Apollo, in his temple at Delphi, and Aphrodite is said to have eaten Beets to retain her beauty. Beet Root's botanical genus, Beta, is derived the second letter in the Greek alphabet, beta, which the root is said to resemble. The Beet has a deep taproot and grows best in loose, loamy, surface soil that is neutral-to-alkaline. The loose soil allows the plant to produce well-shaped roots. The familiar, rounded variety, which has become popular, wasn't developed until around the sixteenth century. Beets are classified according to use. The red variety, which was pioneered in Britain, is dominant, but golden and white Beet Roots are also grown on a smaller scale. Some other varieties of the genus include the spinach Beet (sometimes called Swiss chard), which is stewed and quite equal in taste to spinach; the sugar Beet is grown for sugar; the mangel wurzel is a large, coarse Beet used for cattle fodder; and the foliage beet is simply decorative. Additional members of the genus include chioggia, orach, quinoa and samphire. In the Middle Ages, no meal was considered complete without a soup made from the leaves of Beets, but more importantly, Beet Root was a vital medicinal aid. The seventeenth-century English herbalist, Nicholas Culpeper, recommended Beet Root for its cleansing and digestive qualities. In addition, he prescribed it for obstructions of the liver and spleen, headache, running sores, ulcers, scabs, dandruff and other skin ailments. Aside from its extraordinary value in herbal medicine, Beet Root is also used extensively in Scandinavian, eastern European and Russian cuisines (iron-rich Russian Beet soup is called borscht). Beet Root has a higher sugar content than most vegetables, and some of the other active constituents in Beet Root include fiber, proteins, fats, organic acids, complex carbohydrates of starches, gum, beta carotene, saponiside, phosphorus, sodium, sulfur, iodine potassium, magnesium, manganese, iron, calcium, folic acid, many B-vitamins and vitamins C and A. The red color in the Beet Root is not derived from carotenes, but from anthocyanin, the water-soluble, red betaine pigments, called betacyanin and betaxanthin.
Beet Root is a wonderful cleansing and nourishing tonic that builds the blood, particularly improving the blood quality for menstruating women. It also normalizes the blood's pH balance (reducing acidity) and purifies the blood by flushing away fatty deposits and improving circulation.
Further supporting its role as a blood purifier, Beet Root has been used to detoxify the liver and spleen and help to treat many liver ailments, including jaundice, cirrhosis and other liver diseases. Some herbalists use it to treat liver problems induced by alcoholism.
Beet Root is a great source of natural fruit sugar that is unlike cane sugar, which must be converted by digestive enzymes for the body to absorb it. Beet Root is already in a more easily assimilated form and is an energy creator and source of vitality to the human body. Beet Root is believed to be helpful in cases of hypoglycemia.
Important breakthroughs in the area of malignant diseases have been demonstrated with the use of Beet Root. A very remarkable and successful program for reducing and eliminating many different kinds of malignant growths was begun in the late 1950s, in Hungary, by Dr. Ferenczi, who used raw, red Beet Roots, and further clinical tests reported in the International Clinical Nutrition Review of 1986 claimed rapid tumor breakdown in lung, prostate, breast and uterine cancers with the use of Beet Root. Apparently, Beet Root contains a tumor-inhibiting, anti-cancerous active ingredient that some researchers think is the natural red coloring agent, betaine, but it has not been definitively isolated. However, because the root is non-toxic, it may be administered in unlimited quantities and shows great potential.
Research from the London School of Medicine (2008) indicated that Beet Root may significantly reduce blood pressure. The two key beneficial ingredients appear to be nitrate (which is converted in the body into nitrite) and the mineral, potassium. New research from Queen Mary University of London (2010), and published in the American Heart Association journal, Hypertension, revealed that the nitrate content of Beet Root juice is the underlying cause of its blood pressure lowering benefits. The study found that blood pressure was lowered within twenty-four hours in people who took Beet Root juice or took nitrate tablets, demonstrating that the nitrate found in Beet Root was the cause of its beneficial effects upon cardiovascular health by increasing the levels of the gas nitric oxide in the circulation. Nitrates dilate the arteries to the heart, increasing blood flow and dilate veins, also reducing the heart's workload. The study claimed that Beet Root and nitrate capsules are equally effective in lowering blood pressure, indicating that it is the nitrate content that underlies its potential to reduce blood pressure.
Apropos of its rich nitrate content, further research conducted by the University of Exeter in the U.K. (2009) claims that Beet Root may boost stamina and allow people to exercise considerably longer. The study claimed that supplementation with nitrate-rich Beet Root juice (which doubled the plasma nitrite when converted within the body) can increase exercise endurance by increasing oxygen uptake. The volunteers who had consumed the Beet Root also had lower resting blood pressure, a finding that supports the findings of an earlier study from London-based researchers who reported blood pressure reductions when consuming Beet Root.
Beet Root may help improve blood flow to the brain and improve brain function. Because Beet Root's nitrite appears to have vasodilating and circulatory effects, scientists studied Beet Root's impact on blood flow to the brain. Improved blood flow to the brain is relevant to cognitive health and ageing, and poorer blood flow in the brain among the elderly is believed to be linked to the onset of dementia. 2010 research from Wake Forest University showed that
blood flow to the white matter of the frontal lobes, an area commonly associated with dementia, was higher among those who had consumed Beet Root juice.
Beet Root is believed to stimulate the bowel and has been used to relieve constipation, perhaps because of its fiber content.
Used externally, Beet Root is also considered a cleanser that removes accumulated toxins from the body through the skin and has been used in poultices to draw poisons. It is also said to be good for glandular swelling and sore throat.
Currently, there are no known warnings or contraindications with the use of Beet Root Herbal Supplement. Consumption of large quantities of Beets can make both urine and stools turn red, which is harmless and should not be mistaken for blood. Diabetics should consult with their doctors before taking Beet Root.