Many parts of the avocado tree have a use in herbal medicine. The leaves and bark are effective remedies for digestive problems and coughs. As well as being extremely nutritious, the fruit has a wide range of medicinal uses. Native peoples of Guatemala, for example, use the pulp to stimulate hair growth, the rind to expel worms, and the seeds to treat diarrhea. The fruit pulp is used as a baby food in West Africa.
Habitat & Cultivation
Indigenous to Central America, avocado is widely cultivated for its fruit in tropical and subtropical areas, including Israel, Spain, and South Africa. It is propagated from seed. The leaves are harvested as needed; the unripe fruit is picked when fully grown.
Other Persea species have similar fruits to avocado and are used in a similar way.
Leaves & bark:
- Volatile oil (methylchavicol, alpha-pinene)
- Unsaturated fats
- Protein (about 25%)
- Vitamins A, B1, and B2
Leaves & bark:
- Relieve coughs
- Promote menstrual flow
- Eliminates worms
Cholesterol: Research shows that the fruit helps lower cholesterol levels.
Poisons: Livestock that have grazed on avocado leaves, fruit, or bark have been observed to suffer less toxic effects from snake bite and other poisons.
Herpes simplex: Laboratory experiments have shown that avocado leaf extracts strongly inhibit the herpes simplex virus, responsible for cold sores and genital herpes.
Traditional & Current Uses
Leaves & bark: Avocado leaves and young bark stimulate menstruation and can induce abortion. The leaves are taken for diarrhea, bloating, and gas and are valuable for relieving coughs, for liver obstructions, and for clearing high uric acid levels, which cause gout.
Fruit: The rind is used to expel worms. The fruit pulp is considered to have aphrodisiac properties. Used externally, it soothes the skin. It is applied to suppurating wounds and to the scalp to stimulate hair growth.
Oil: The expressed oil of the avocado seed nourishes the skin. It softens rough, dry, or flaking skin and, massaged into the scalp, it improves hair growth.