Malus spp


Malus spp


Apples are well-known, small-medium sized deciduous trees belonging to the Rose family that grow in temperate climates. The Rose family is a nourishing plant family that generously provides us with many popular fruits. Raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, plums, pears, peaches, cherries, loquats, and even almonds are all proud members of the Rosaceae family. As technology becomes more sophisticated, plant families are often reorganized based on the latest information available. Some believe that the reorganization of the Rosacea family in the early 1900s inspired the poem by Robert Frost titled “The Rose Family”: ‘The rose is a rose, And was always a rose. But now the theory goes That the apple’s a rose, And the pear is, and so’s The plum, I suppose. The dear only knows What will next prove a rose. You, of course, are a rose But were always a rose.’ The Malus or apple genus contains various species, and is native throughout the northern hemisphere as ‘crabapples’. The cultivated apple is thought to have been originally domesticated in Asia and spread via the Silk Road to the rest of Europe. DNA sequencing of archeological apple samples suggests that the cultivated apple genotype was being consumed throughout Germany, Switzerland, Poland, and The Netherlands by 100 C.E., in contrast to the crabapple genotypes of prior years.

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Traditional Health Benefits of Apple

Immune Support

What is Apple Used for?

Considering the timeless saying, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”, apples are an example of how foods can be medicine. Energetically, apples and many fruits are considered cooling and moistening. While the use of the bark is not common, late herbalists Tommie Bass & Willam LeSassier used apple bark as an alterative, meaning something that opens up the pathways of elimination, as they believed apple bark to have supportive actions to the liver, kidneys, and spleen. Apples contain various classes of compounds including polyphenols and flavonoids that have antioxidant activity. Nutritionally, apples contain both soluble and insoluble fiber, pectin, vitamin c, and various phytochemicals such as quercetin, polyphenols, flavonoids, and epicatechin (the same antioxidant compound found in green tea), with the fruit skin carrying the highest concentration of these beneficial compounds. The long shelf life of apples allows them to be transported easily, which may contribute to apples being one of the most commonly consumed fruits in the modern world. In a study done on healthy women, apple polyphenol consumption was shown to support the skin against UV damage when compared to placebo. The polyphenol content of apples has been shown to modulate and support the microbiome’s metabolism and production of amino acids, such as tyrosine and tryptophan, which may influence the central nervous system through the gut brain axis. The fiber content is also utilized by the microbiome to product short chain fatty acids (SCFAs), which are used as fuel by the epithelial cells that line the GI tract.

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Active Constituents of Apple

Polyphenols, flavanols, anthocyanins, phenolic acids, hydroxycinnamic acids, phloretin, phloridzin, and quercetin

Parts Used


Additional Resources

1. 2. Francini, A., & Sebastiani, L. (2013). Phenolic Compounds in Apple (Malus x domestica Borkh.): Compounds Characterization and Stability during Postharvest and after Processing. Antioxidants, 2(3), 181–193. doi:10.3390/antiox2030181 3. Wruss, J., Lanzerstorfer, P., Huemer, S., Himmelsbach, M., Mangge, H., Höglinger, O., … Weghuber, J. (2015). Differences in pharmacokinetics of apple polyphenols after standardized oral consumption of unprocessed apple juice. Nutrition Journal, 14(1). doi:10.1186/s12937-015-0018-z 4. Elpel, Thomas J. Botany in a Day: The Patterns Method of Plant Identification, an Herbal Field Guide to Plant Families of North America. 6th Edition. 2013. Pages 80-81. HOPS Press, LLC. Pony, MT. 5. 6. Cornille, A., Antolín, F., Garcia, E., Vernesi, C., Fietta, A., Brinkkemper, O., … Roldán-Ruiz, I. (2019). A Multifaceted Overview of Apple Tree Domestication. Trends in Plant Science. doi:10.1016/j.tplants.2019.05.007 7. Saenger, T., Hübner, F., & Humpf, H.-U. (2016). Short-term biomarkers of apple consumption. Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, 61(3), 1600629. doi:10.1002/mnfr.201600629 8. Shoji, T.; Masumoto, S.; Moriichi, N.; Ohtake, Y.; Kanda, T. Administration of Apple Polyphenol Supplements for Skin Conditions in Healthy Women: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial. Nutrients 2020, 12, 1071. 9. Hyson, Dianne A. “A comprehensive review of apples and apple components and their relationship to human health.” Advances in nutrition (Bethesda, Md.) vol. 2,5 (2011): 408-20. doi:10.3945/an.111.000513 10. “Apples.” The Nutrition Source, 22 May 2019, 11. Ulaszewska, M. M., Koutsos, A., Trošt, K., Stanstrup, J., Garcia-Aloy, M., Scholz, M., … Mattivi, F. (2020). Two apples a day modulate human:microbiome co-metabolic processing of polyphenols, tyrosine and tryptophan. European Journal of Nutrition. doi:10.1007/s00394-020-02201-8 12. Wood, Matthew. The Earthwise Herbal: The Complete Guide to Old World Medicinal Plants. North Atlantic Books: Berkeley, CA. 2008.

Important Precautions

If you have a medical condition or take pharmaceutical drugs please consult your doctor prior to use.


This information in our Herbal Reference Guide is intended only as a general reference for further exploration, and is not a replacement for professional health advice. This content does not provide dosage information, format recommendations, toxicity levels, or possible interactions with prescription drugs. Accordingly, this information should be used only under the direct supervision of a qualified health practitioner such as a naturopathic physician.

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