The Medicinal Herb Info site was created to help educate visitors about the often forgotten wisdom of the old ways of treating illnesses. Many of today's drugs and medicines were originally derived from natural ingredients, combinations of plants and other items found in nature.

We are not suggesting that you ignore the help of trained medical professionals, simply that you have additional options available for treating illnesses. Often the most effective treatment involves a responsible blend of both modern and traditional treatments.

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Watercress

Scientific Names

Watercress

  • Nasturtium officinale L.
  • Cruciferae
  • Crucifer family

Common Names

  • Scurvy grass
  • Tall nasturtium

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Parts Usually Used

Leaves, roots, young shoots
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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.
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Where Found

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 in salads.
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Medicinal Properties

Diuretic, expectorant, purgative, stimulant, stomachic, tonic
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Biochemical Information

Calcium, chlorine, cobalt, copper, tannin, fluorine, iodine, iron, manganese, phosphorus, sulfur, vanadium, vitamins A, B1, B2, C, D, and zinc.
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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.”
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Uses

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.
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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.
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Nutrient Content

Iodine, niacin, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, calcium, vitamins A, B1, B2, C and E and zinc.

Watercress nutrition

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How Sold

Fresh plant in grocery
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Warning

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.
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Bibliography

Buy It! The Herb Book, by John Lust, Bantam Books, 666 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY. copyright 1974.

Buy It! Eastern/Central Medicinal Plants, by Steven Foster and James A. Duke., Houghton Mifflin Company, 215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10000

Buy It! The Herbalist Almanac, by Clarence Meyer, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, copyright 1988, fifth printing, 1994

Buy It! The Nature Doctor: A Manual of Traditional and Complementary Medicine, by Dr. H.C.A. Vogel; Keats Publishing, Inc., 27 Pine Street (Box 876) New Canaan, CT. 06840-0876. Copyright Verlag A. Vogel, Teufen (AR) Switzerland 1952, 1991

Buy It!The Magic of Herbs, by David Conway, published by Jonathan Cape, Thirty Bedford Square, London, England. (Out of print)

Buy It! Planetary Herbology, by Michael Tierra, C.A., N.D., O.M.D., Lotus Press, PO Box 325, Twin Lakes. WI 53181., Copyright 1988, published 1992

Buy It! American Folk Medicine, by Clarence Meyer, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, 1973

Buy It! Indian Herbalogy of North America, by Alma R. Hutchens, Shambala Publications, Inc., Horticultural Hall, 300 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, 1973

Buy It! Prescription for Nutritional Healing, Fifth Edition: A Practical A-to-Z Reference to Drug-Free Remedies Using Vitamins, Minerals, Herbs & Food Supplements, by James F. Balch, M.D. and Phyllis A. Balch, C.N.C., Avery Publishing Group, Inc., Garden City Park, NY

Buy It! Webster’s New World Dictionary, Third College Edition, Victoria Neufeldt, Editor in Chief, New World Dictionaries: A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., 15 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10023

Buy It! An Instant Guide to Medicinal Plants, by Pamela Forey and Ruth Lindsay, Crescent Books (January 27, 1992).

Buy It! The Yoga of Herbs: An Ayurvedic Guide to Herbal Medicine, by Dr. David Frawley & Dr. Vasant Lad, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin, Second edition, 1988.

Buy It! The Rodale Herb Book: How to Use, Grow, and Buy Nature’s Miracle Plants (An Organic gardening and farming book), edited by William H. Hylton, Rodale Press, Inc. Emmaus, PA, 18049., 1974

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