COMMON NAME: Watercress
LATIN NAME: Nasturtium Officinale
CHINESE NAME: Xi Yang Cai
ORIGIN: Europe and Asia
HABITAT: Europe and Asia. It grows along the banks of the rivers, near streams and springs, sometimes in slowly flowing water, less often in swamps.
BOTANICAL INFORMATION: Watercress (lat. Nasturtium officinale) is a species of the female genus (lat. Nasturtium) of the cruciferous or cabbage family (Cruciferae, or Brassicaceae). The genus includes six species, growing mainly in Eurasia, Northern and Eastern Africa and North America. Watercress is cultivated in Western Europe and the USA.
Watercress is a perennial plant, reaching the height of 60 cm or more. A moisture-loving, relatively cold-resistant and shade-tolerant plant. The stem is hollow, creeping, usually rooting at the base. The leaves are green, simple, without stipules, pinnate, with wide petioles and 2-7 pairs of oblong or oval leaves. The flowers are small, white, two-sidedly symmetric, arranged in short racemes. There are 6 stamens , 2 of them are short and 4 are long, nectaries are located at the base of the stamens. The fruit is a pod. It blooms in May - August.
CHEMICAL COMPASITION: The chemical composition of Watercress is studied quite well. Flavonoids mainly apigenin, luteolin, kaempferol, myricetin, hesperetin, narigenin, quercetin, anthocyanins were found in the aerial part and fruits of Watercress. In the aerial parts and roots there were found glucosinolates (gluconasturcin, glucobrassinocin, neoglubrabrassitsin, etc.). Watercress contains other nitrogen-containing compounds (phenylpropionitrile, phenylacetonitrile, etc.). Seeds are rich in fatty acids (oleic, linoleic, erucic, palminto, sterol, linolenic) and fatty oils. There are up to 24% of them.
ACTIONS: Nasturtium Officinale possesses depurative, expectorant, antidiabetic, antioxidant, antipyretic, antiviral, detoxicant, digestive, diuretic, liver tonic, stimulant, stomachic, tonic properties on our body.
- Improves thyroid gland function. Watercress is rich in iodine that is why it is extremely useful for people with diseases of the thyroid gland.
- For a long time, Watercress was considered a powerful tool for all parasites in the body, expelling worms, ascaris and other pathogenic environment.
- Treats diabetes. Nasturtium Officinale lowers blood sugar levels and can be of great use for people suffering from high insulin production.
- Lowers blood pressure. High amount of lutein help people who suffer from cardiovascular diseases and lowers the risk of getting heart attacks.
- Boosts immunity. Vitamin C in its composition reduces the risk of having blood cell damage, protects against diseases caused by bacteria and viruses. The high level of ascorbic acid produces antioxidants, eliminates free radicals and improves overall immunity.
- Produces a laxative effect, prevents the occurrence of constipation and as a consequence of hemorrhoids.
- Being rich in phytochemicals, it may reduce the risk of developing cancer. These chemicals protect healthy cells from damage; block the growth and spread of tumors in human body.
- A powerful tool for cleaning the skin from all sorts of rashes, acne, inflammation.
- Manages gallbladder function. It produces a diuretic effect, removing excess water from the body.
- It is useful to include it in the food of patients during the rehabilitation period after prolonged serious illnesses, difficult operations to restore and maintain the metabolism in general, as well as to improve the appetite.
- Provides beneficial effect on kidneys, liver and joints. Eating Watercross can help to get rid of diseases such as pyelonephritis, jaundice, gout, rheumatism.
- People with gastrointestinal diseases should be careful when taking Watercress.
- Those who have individual intolerance to certain components of the plant should be cautious with it.
- Patients with low blood pressure should be aware of the fact that excessive consumption can produce a negative effect on the kidneys.
Watercress has been introduced into culture since the Middle Ages. In many countries, in particular France, Germany, Canada and the USA, this is a widespread garden green. In the 17th century, special artificial reservoirs were even built for the Watercress. In England, Watercress was introduced to the culture in the XIX century, and then in many other countries. It was first cultivated by gardener Wilhelm Bradbury in 1808 from Kent. He grew his crop on the banks of the Ebbsflitskaya River. Since then, this herb has spread to other counties in the UK: Hertfordshire, Hampshire, Wiltshire and Dorset. Now Watercress can be found on the shelves of supermarkets in England and some other European countries. Festivals are held in honor of this plant in the city of Alresford. Even the railway line was called in honor of Watercress.
Even the ancient healers used the Watercress grass for fever and scurvy. In ancient Rome, it was believed that Watercress (with vinegar) soothes and heals people with clouded mind. In China, it has been used to lower blood pressure and as a laxative. According to legends, many preachers (the Irish) fed on Watercress and dry bread all their lives and maintained their health.
As it is known, Watercress is cultivated in different regions, but a special love for this plant belongs to people from Europe and the USA.
There is even exists the so-called “cress capital of the world”. It is in the state of Alabama, the USA.
Today, the city of Oviedo, Florida in the United States is considered to be the capital of cress, and for the British, Alresford remains their capital of the cress.
*This article is for informational purposes only. We suggest consulting a physician before using these or any other herbal supplements.