Cucumbers, known botanically as Cucumis sativus, are thought to have originated over 10,000 years ago in southern Asia. They were very popular in the ancient civilisations of Egypt, Greece, and Rome, where the cucumber was used both as a food and for its beneficial skin healing properties. While cucumbers are available year round, they are typically at their best from November through to January (May through to July in the Northern Hemisphere) – so take advantage of this healing food during the warmer months.
The flesh of cucumbers is primarily composed of water, but it also contains vitamin C and caffeic acid, both of which help soothe skin irritations and reduce swelling. The phrase “cool as a cucumber” is well-earned. Not only do they help with cooling inflamed or irritated skin, soothing puffy eye areas, or bringing down the heat of a mild sunburn, cucumbers contain silica – which is an essential component of healthy muscles, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, and bone. Naturally hydrating, cucumber is a fabulous remedy for glowing, healthy skin.
The vitamin C (ascorbic acid) and caffeic acid help to prevent water retention, which is why cucumbers are the go-to kitchen remedy for under-eye bags, burns, and dermatitis. Its high water content gives it a very unique cooling action both internally and externally, plus cucumbers are also high in fibre, (particularly the skin), so this soothing salad ingredient is pretty much the perfect combination of water, fibre, vitamins and minerals.
Cucumbers have been shown to help reduce blood pressure, which is thought to be due to their potassium, magnesium, and fibre content. Participants in the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) Study lowered their blood pressure by 5.5 points (systolic) over 3.0 points (diastolic) simply by adding cucumbers to their daily diets, along with other foods high in potassium, magnesium and fibre, plus low fat dairy, seafood, lean meats, and poultry.
Megan Sheppard is an aficionado of all things plant-based, particularly if it involves herbs and tastes delicious! She works as a Herbalist specialising in nutrition, and works freelance as a natural health author and advisor.
Megan’s herbalicious creations can be found at Wildflower Botanicals, a garden of organic and ethically sourced teas, chocolate, and other delights!