Agave: A Plant with Many Properties

Agave: A Plant with Many Properties
  Origin and Description
  Chemical Composition

How Does Agave Act In Our Body?

  Scientific Studies Carried Out On Agave

Agave is used in the production of tequila and for its medicinal properties: it controls diabetes, prevents colon cancer, osteoporosis and obesity, and is a diuretic, tonic and digestive.

 Origin and Description

Agave is also known by the names centuryplant, maguey, and American aloe, and belongs to the Agavaceae family. It is a plant with leaves grouped in the form of rosettes and is native to the Americas (its distribution ranging from southern United States to Colombia and Venezuela, including all the islands of the Caribbean) and has been used since ancient times to meet and complement a series of basic needs: food, fodder, medicine and construction, amongst other things.
Agave is a crop of great importance on an agro-industrial level. Most of the plants are used for producing alcoholic beverages with designation of origin such as tequila and mezcal, as well as being harvested with the intention of obtaining fibres. It has a large amount of fermentable sugars which can be used for the production of food additives, such as fructose syrups or inulin, as well as the use of fructose syrups as fermentable musts in the production of food additives like lactic acid or transglutaminase enzyme.


Agave has had a variety of uses since ancient times as they were used as food, for the production of fibres used for clothing, for construction and for domestic use.

  • Food: mead, syrup, sweet juice, honey, vinegar, spirits, mezcal, stews, dessert, sugar, flavouring tamales and bread, yeast, spice, barbecue, sweet mezcal and fructose.

The food use of the species has been and still is very important, especially in Mexico where a long cultural association with man. The trunks and the base of the leaves of some species are eaten roasted. The tender flower stems can be eaten roasted or cooked like the bulbils and flowers of some species. The mead, which is the sap of the plant, is a great food that is taken as such or concentrated as honey or molasses. This mead, by various methods, produces stimulating beverages or fermented as pulque, similar to chicha, and the obtained liquid roast heart, produced by distillation, high alcohol spirits like mezcal and tequila. Apart from Mexico and Mesoamerica, its usefulness as food has been reported in all the Andean countries from Colombia and Venezuela to Ecuador and Peru, where the mead for the manufacture of fermented beverages exploits, but also consumed as mead, honey or sugar (molasses ).

  • Textiles and Clothing: yarns, ropes, fabrics for sacks, bags, sashes, blankets, cloth, rugs, sandals, tumplines, petticoats, blouses, belts, hammocks, mats, etc.
  • Construction: beams, vaulting poles, fences to delimit, ceilings or roofs, rain gutters, punts for mixtures.
  • Domestic: laundry soap, washing brushes, brushes and brooms, baskets, nails and containers.
  Chemical Composition

Agave presents a high content of solids (33%). Fructans represent about 70% of soluble solids. These compounds are of great importance for obtaining syrups.

  • Humidity 67%
  • Soluble solids 33% (cellulose 36.20%, fructans 69.75% and lignin 17.02%)

The total percentage of sugars consists of:

  • 75 parts fructose (low glycaemic index makes it suitable for diabetics)
  • 25 parts glucose
  • 5 parts inulin (index "0")

Agave mead is a sweet liquid. 100 g contains:

  • 5.30 g of nitrogen-free extract
  • 0.4% protein. Although the latter may seem like a low amount, it’s interesting for its essential amino acid composition, such as: lysine, tryptophan, histidine, phenylalanine, leucine, tyrosine, methionine, valine and arginine. Contains vitamins of the B complex, niacin, thiamine, riboflavin and vitamin C. Minerals such as iron, calcium and phosphorus.


Prebiotics are substances that reach the intestine intact thick from its consumption, since there are no enzymes throughout the digestive system that can break your link, until reaching the colon.
For fructans (main component of agave), to reach the large intestine are fermented and converted into short chain fatty acids which reduce the acidity (pH), but the latter is increased in the intestine, causing a reduction many pathogenic bacteria continue to grow and reproduce.



El Agave is the plant from which the most popular alcoholic drink in Mexico, Tequila, part of the culture of this country is developed and that was formerly very well used as a powerful disinfectant, between the poor and the fighters various wars throughout history.

  • Gastritis and Ulcers: Agave sap has external and internal antiseptic properties, being used in the latter case to treat digestive disorders caused by the growth of bacteria in the stomach and intestine, in particular the cause of ulcers such as Helicobacter pylori, which helps people with gastritis.
  • Prebiotic: It stimulates the growth of intestinal flora and inhibits the growth of pathogenic bacteria (E. coli, Listeria, Shigella, and Salmonella).
  • Lowers triglyceride and cholesterol levels.
  • Improves the elimination of toxins in the body.
  • Syphilis: Since antiquity, the fluid root extract was tested successfully for the treatment of patients with syphilis.
  • Their recommendations as a medicinal plant cover: pulmonary tuberculosis, liver disease and jaundice, and their fibre soaked in water for a day is used as a powerful disinfectant and scalp tonic in cases of hair loss or alopecia.
  • The dried leaves are used in infusion for its digestive and hepatic properties. Externally it is used for eye irritation and fresh leaf juice is used to treat wounds and skin irritations.


  • Mexican Scientific Research Center of Studies of the National Polytechnic Institute have discovered that substances used agave tequila to allow combat obesity, improve diabetes and reduce osteoporosis. His research has shown that fructans, help generate satiety and, by this means, controlling food intake, because that regulates insulin production and promotes bone calcification.
  • Scientists at the Center for Research and Advanced Studies (CINVESTAV) -Unit Irapuato discovered that carbohydrates are healthy agave sugars because they can be used as natural sweeteners, but are not digested by the human body.
    "Healthy sugars function primarily as prebiotics and are called fructans, the best known is called inulin, which can regulate insulin secretion, directly or regulation of other hormones, such as increatina or GLP1" explained Mercedes Guadeloupe Lopez Perez, scientist at the Department of Biotechnology and Biochemistry Cinvestav.
  • evenly fructan found that accelerates the incretin hormone, also present in humans, which produces and controls up to 60 percent of insulin secretion.
    The results also indicate that these carbohydrates are healthy, because this is not going to sugar blood because it is not metabolized, ie not absorbed.
    "Their smaller molecules are sweet and the consumer can enjoy the sweetness and can tell the brain:´m eating sweet, but I´m not absorbing" the scientists said.
  • Make also does not cause caries because it is not metabolized by enzymes in the oral cavity, can reach the small intestine, where most of the nutrients are absorbed, and it does not matter, and in the large intestine is where these sugars are fermented by probiotics (beneficial bacteria).
    "It promotes the growth of good bacteria, slows the growth of other pathogens that generate toxic compounds and impact in several ways, one is to regulate the hormones that regulate us."


They have reported rare episodes of contact dermatitis after exposure to the sap of Agave americana. The calcium oxalate crystals present in agave can cause micro-wear of teeth in humans.
It should be avoided during pregnancy and lactation, unless medically indicated.


  • De Lucca, Manuel y Zalles, Jaime. 1992. Flora Medicinal Boliviana. Diccionario Enciclopédico. Editorial Los Amigos del Libro. La Paz, Cochabamba, Bolivia
  • P. Park S. Nobel. Los incomparables Agaves y Cactos. Ed. Trillas. 1998
  • Brack, Antonio 1999. Diccionario Enciclopédico de Plantas Útiles del Perú. Centro de Estudios Regionales Andinos "Bartolomé de Las Casas". Cuzco, Perú
  • Plantaciones Modernas. Transferencia de tecnología en el cultivo del agave. Agrosem. Año 4 No. 4. Octubre-Diciembre 1999
  • ASERCA (Apoyo y servicios a la Comercialización Agropecuaria) 2000. Agave Tequilero: Pencas que abrazan al mundo. Claridades Agropecuarias (87):3-30, nov. 2000. México, DF

que abrazan al mundo. Claridades Agropecuarias (87):3-30, nov. 2000. México, DF



Write your comment


  • Your comment is welcomed. All comments will be reviewed before publishing; Please note:
    We will not publish publicity or offensive comments
    We will not reply in this section. If you have a question, please ask other readers. To contact us go to our contact page