- Nasturtium officinale L.
- Crucifer family
Parts Usually Used
Leaves, roots, young shoots
Description of Plant(s) and Culture
Watercress is a succulent, perennial plant that is cultivated for
its leaves, which are principally used as salad greens or garnishes.
Forms large colonies in cool running water; a creeping, weak, stem
with root at the nodes and turns up to form leafy shoots, 1-2 feet
in length, generally extends with its leaves above the water. The
smooth, somewhat fleshy, compound, dark green leaves are odd-pinnate
with 1-4 pairs of small, oblong or roundish leaflets. The small, white
or pale purple, four-petaled flowers bloom in elongating terminal
racemes from May to September. The fruit is a long, curved, linear-cylindric,
partitioned pod borne more or less upright.
Native to Europe and naturalized in the United States and some parts
of Canada. It thrives in clear, running, cold water and is found in
ditches, springs, and streams everywhere. Widely cultivated for use
Diuretic, expectorant, purgative, stimulant, stomachic, tonic
Calcium, chlorine, cobalt, copper, tannin, fluorine, iodine, iron,
manganese, phosphorus, sulfur, vanadium, vitamins A, B1, B2, C, D,
Legends, Myths and Stories
Watercress is high in favor with nutritional advisors to the armed
forces for soups and salads for the energy it produces. Good for dieters,
has low carbohydrate content and more iron than spinach. Fed to children
with weak bones and soft teeth because it contains lime high in sulphur
content. Given in tablet form for eczema.
The Greeks referred to watercress as a "wit-producing food."
Good for urinary bladder
problems. Promotes kidney function. Helps heart disease by relieving
fluid retention. Relieves indigestion
and stops gas formation. Stimulates rate of metabolism and is taken
as a spring tonic.
Watercress is recommended for gout,
scurvy, mild digestive disturbances, anemia,
and catarrh of the upper respiratory
tract. Very effective as an expectorant, it is also beneficial
for tuberculosis, scurvy, anemia,
and eczema. Its high vitamin
C content makes it a good illness preventative. Very good as a post-partum
(after childbirth) remedy to prevent infections. Having a modest iodine
content, cress is a dietary remedy for thyroid
problems. The iodine in watercress is present in the right amount
and combination with other substances. If you have thyroid problems,
such as palpitations, oversensitivity to every little influence, or
enlargement of the gland itself, you should definitely eat watercress
on a regular basis. You will find it a marvelous remedy if you lack
vitality and are always listless and tired, symptoms that are usually
caused by the poor function of the endocrine glands. In addition,
the richness of its mineral, iron and iodine content stimulates glandular
activity. Limited loss of hair caused by a fungus can be remedied
by an application of watercress juice.
Leaf extracts are used clinically in India to correct vitamin deficiency.
Watercress stimulates the
appetite. Fresh leaves may be used in salads or as a garnish,
raw or deep-fried. Also in chopped form, added to appetizers, eggs,
cheese, and fish.
Formulas or Dosages
Watercress must be used fresh.
Infusion: use 1 tsp. young shoots in 1/2 cup water. Take 1/2
cup, freshly made, 3 times a day. To maintain the greatest possible
vitamin content, do not steep a long time or allow to boil.
Juice: take 1 tsp. in milk or water, 3 times a day. Fresh
watercress juice is easily obtained with an electric vegetable juicer.
Iodine, niacin, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, sodium, iron, calcium,
vitamins A, B1, B2, C and E and zinc.
Fresh plant in grocery
Do not harvest leaves from polluted waters. Poisonings have resulted
from eating leaves from plants growing in polluted waters, from which
the plant has absorbed heavy metals and toxins.
Excessive or prolonged use can lead to stomach upset and kidney problems.
It should not be taken daily and no longer than 4 weeks even with
interruptions. The juice should not be taken undiluted, because it
can produce inflammations in the throat and stomach. Some doctors
caution against use during pregnancy.