You’ve probably heard a lot about Agave lately: it’s better than sugar, it’s good for dieters, and it’s the low-key beauty secret of your dreams. With so many over the top promises from one plant, and a cactus at that, you’ve probably stopped paying attention to all the hype. It can’t possibly be that great, can it?
You’d be surprised. Agave is a tough little succulent, and it’s broad leaves and base host a plethora of nutrients with all kinds of flavor and healing properties. And, bonus, the fibrous leaves of the agave plant can be used for all kinds of other things too, from weaving rope to making paper. So yeah, it is that good.
But if you’re a tough cookie and you need more convincing, go ahead and check out this list of the 13 reasons Agave is pretty much the BEST EVER.
1. Agave is 1.5x sweeter than sugar. Yep, the nectar of the Agave plant is fully one and a half times sweeter than sugar, which makes it a super-slick sugar replacement. Agave is more calorically dense than table sugar (at 60 calories per tablespoon as compared to sugar’s 48), but because it’s so much sweeter than sugar, you can use less of it to achieve the same level of sweetness, and you’ll ultimately net fewer calories.
2. Agave is an effective antiseptic. Agave Americana is a frequent entry in repertories of medicinal plants because it can be used to treat all kinds of physical maladies. Specifically, the sap of the Agave leaf is antiseptic and has long been used as a topical treatment to prevent infection of wounds and burns.
- It’s great for your hair. Agave is super hydrating, and adding it to a homemade hair mask (or even just adding it to your daily conditioner) can help prevent dryness and help strengthen your hair, so you don’t have to worry about breakage and split ends. Bonus: it’s great for all hair types, so you can enjoy it’s positive effects no matter what kind of hair you have.
Agave Hair Mask
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp agave nectar
- Mash up the avocado.
- Add the olive oil and nectar and mix well.
- Apply to hair and let sit for at least 15-20 minutes.
- Rinse well and style as usual.
4. Agave can aid in wound healing. The juice of the Agave plant contains steroidal saponins, isoflavones and coumarins, and it’s application to cuts and wounds can aid in the speed and quality of the healing process.
- Agave is an effective anti-inflammatory agent. The juice and sap of the Agave plant can be applied to wounds as an anti-inflammatory, and the active agents in the juice can also have pain-relieving properties, which makes treating wounds with this plant-based medicine a two-fold win.
- You can use it to treat a ton of gastrointestinal maladies. The juice and sap of the Agave plant can be used to treat intestinal gas, constipation, upset stomach, weak digestion, malicious gut bacteria, stomach inflammation, and ulcer. It’s a gut-health powerhouse, and it’s an excellent nutrient-rich supplement to any diet.
- It makes great skin treatment for your hands. The nectar and syrup is ultra-hydrating so it makes an excellent treatment or dry or chapped hands. It’s also an excellent binding agent, so it makes a strong foundation for exfoliating scrubs.
Agave-Lime Hand Scrub
½ cup cooked rice
1 tablespoon agave nectar
1 tablespoon lime juice
- Mix together the above ingredients and blend well.
- Apply to dry hands.
- Move the scrub around your hands in circular motions with firm but gentle pressure for one to two minutes.
- Rinse your hands with warm water.
Pro-tip: use any excess scrub on the palms of your hands or the bottoms of your feet to soften calluses.
- It’s good for toothaches. Because of Agave’s antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic properties, the roots and leaves of the plant can be ground and used as a poultice to treat toothaches.
- You can make rope out of it! Agave is made up of pith that’s super fibrous and stringy like thread, which makes it a super useful material for making rope. The fiber is strong and can be woven into a sturdy rope of varying thickness and length. Each leaf is made up of many fibrous threads, so a small amount of Agave pith can actually yield quite a bit of rope.
- Agave makes great soap. Agave nectar is an amazing addition to homemade soaps — it’s gentle on the skin, and when you combine it with uber-hydrating aloe, you’ll get a soap that will keep your skin healthy and glowing. Here’s a super easy recipe to get started:
Aloe and Agave Soap
Aloe Vera pulp (equivalent to about 4 leaves)
2 bars of glycerin soap
4 tablespoons of agave nectar
3.5 oz of olive oil
- Place two bars of glycerine soap in a glass bowl and microwave until melted (about 4 minutes).
- Add aloe pulp, agave nectar, and lemon zest to melted glycerin soap. Heat olive oil until lukewarm.
- Use an electric mixer to blend melted glycerin soap with oil.
- Add oil slowly and blend on a low setting until the mixture resembles a pliable dough.
- Press dough into a soap mold and refrigerate for about a day.
- Agave is nature’s needle and thread. This one’s a regular old Boy Scout tip: you can make a needle and thread with the dried leaves of an Agave plant! Agave leaves are very fibrous, and when they dry out the fibers resemble sturdy, heavy duty thread. The end of the Agave leaf comes to a sharp, needle-like point, and when separated from the chaffe the point and it’s attached fibers come to resemble a needle and thread. The needle point is sharp enough to actually use for sewing, and can be a life saver for making repairs if you’re out camping and need an emergency patch for your tent.
- You can make paper out of it! Agave’s large, broad leaves make excellent paper, and not just in one way! Agave fiber can be used to make a pulp that is then pressed in the traditional process of hand-making paper, or it the skin can be peeled off and dried for a super easy, super sturdy paper.
- Agave is an excellent replacement for firewood. Dried Agave plant is fantastic material for building a fire. The papery leaves catch fire easily and burn nicely on their own, you can add dried leaves to other materials as fuel for bolstering a strong, roaring fire.
- It makes fantastic lip balm. Well it makes sense, right? Agave syrup is dense and thick, so it promotes moisture retention, and it’s especially good for soft, sensitive skin like your lips. You can even make your own — check out this super good (and super tasty) recipe for DIY agave lip balm with ginger and almond.
Ginger-Almond Lip Butter
1 oz cocoa butter
1/2 oz shea butter
1/4 oz almond oil
1/4 oz agave syrup
1/4 oz beeswax
6 drops almond extract
10 drops ginger oil
- Heat cocoa butter, shea butter, and beeswax in a double boiler. Watch closely, and remove from heat immediately after butters and wax have melted.
Pro-tip: You can also heat butters and wax in the microwave. Place cocoa butter, shea butter, and beeswax in a microwave-safe bowl and heat just until melted.
- Add almond oil and agave syrup to the mixture and stir to combine thoroughly.
- Add almond extract and ginger oil. Stir to combine.
- Use electric mixer to whip mixture until smooth.
- Spoon into lip balm pots.
- Cool to set.
So yeah, Agave is pretty much the greatest, right? And once you start dabbling in the wide world of this cactus-based alternative sweetener, facial treatment, and pithy multi-use plant, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it.