Sugar cane - western medicine

Sugar has a bad reputation in western countries as a key factor in obesity. However, the main medicinal use of sugar cane is as the juice crushed from the stems. Studies are now showing that sugar may also have some interesting health benefits.

Wound healing

Sugar cane juice is rich in a wide range of compounds apart from sucrose (sugar). It is likely to be some of these that are responsible for observed wound healing properties, and which may help to stimulate the immune system.

Safety

Photo of a man crushing sugar cane into juice.
Image: Sugar cane juice is a popular refreshment in South Asia, however it can cause tooth decay.

Sugar cane juice is widely consumed in Asia and is usually safe. Eating sugar cane, either as juice or as raw cane, can lead to tooth decay, but some compounds in the juice may protect teeth from the worst effects of sugar.

Poisonings have occurred from eating sugar cane stored in damp conditions. This leads to the growth of moulds containing toxins. Outbreaks of "mouldy sugar cane poisoning" have occurred in recent years in villages in northern China.

This information is provided for general interest only. It is not intended as guidance for medicinal use. Further information on using herbal medicines is available.