Watercress

Family • Cruciferae / Brassicaceae - Tonghoy - Nasturtium officinale R. Br. - CRESS - Xi yang cai

Other scientific names

Sisymbrium nasturtium Linn.
Roripa nasturtium Rusby
Roripa nasturtium-aquaticum Hayek
Nasturium aquaticum

Common names

Watercress (Engl.)
Tonghoy (Ilk.)
Nasturium (Engl.)
Cress (Engl.)
Xi yang cai (Engl.)

Botany
An floating aquatic plant, with very branched creeping stems. The leaves are erect and pinnate; the upper ones with 3 to 7 pinnules and a terminal one, the lower ones cut into 3 repand segments. Flowers are white, borne in short racemes. Petals are longer than the sepals.

Distribution
Abundant in shallow waters and small streams in the Trinidad valley, Benguet areas, at altitudes of about 1,300 meters. The pods is 1.2 toi 2.5 cm long, stalked and spreading, or bent upward. Seeds are small and 2-seriate.

Parts utilized
Seeds

Chemical constituents and properties
• A good source of calcium; a fair source of iron.
• Antiscorbutic; rich in vitamins A and C; fair in vitamin D.
• Contains an essential oil, the principal substance of which is phenylpropionic acid nitrite.
• It also contains a glucoside, gluconastutiin.
• Considered antiscorbutic, diuretic, expectorant, hypoglycemic, odontalgic, purgative, stimulant, stomachic.
• Contains specific indoles that help in disposing of excess estrogen; heavy cooking destroys these indoles.
• Contains phenethyl isothiocyanate (PEITC), a compound known for cancer-preventive properties. source

Uses
Folkloric
Bruised leaves and juice, used as a facial lotion to remove blotches, spots and blemishes.
Used for tubercular patients.
Also used as a stimulant and aphrodisiac.
Freshly expressed juice used for chest and kidney complaints, externalluy for skin irritations and inflammations.
Used as hair tonic, believed to promote hair growth.
Poultice of leaves used for lymphatic swellings.
Culinary
Edible: leaves, seeds.
Leaves, raw or cooked.
Used as garnish and condiment.
Seeds are powdered and used as mustard. Adding water to the powdered seed activates the enzyme, myrosin. acting on the glycoside, sinigrin, to produce a sulphur compound. Mixing hot water, vinegar, or salt inhibits the enzymatic reaction and produced a milder but bitter mustard. source
In Iran, used as a cardioprotective agent.

Study Findings
• Cardioprotective / Hypolipidemic: Study of the hydroalcoholic extract of N officinale on rats lowered total and LDL cholesterol and triglicerides while raising serum HDL lvels. Results shows a cardioprotective effect and supports a basis for medical application.
• Antioxidant / Lipid Benefits: Study showed the extract of NO has notable scavenging activity against DPPH radicals and potent reducing power. It reduced Total and LDL cholesterol while increasing HDL levels. Results suggest the lipid effect could be due to its antioxidative potential.
• Hepatoprotective: Study of the alcoholic extract of N officinale showed it significantly diminished acetaminophen-induced liver damage in a rat model.
• Platelet Aggregating Effect: Study of the the plant extracted with 50% ethanol showed a more potent platelet aggregating effect than the aqueous extract suggesting the platelet aggregation activating constituent may be more ethanol soluble than water soluble.
• Anti-Tuberculosis Activity: In a study evaluating nine plants used in Mexican traditional medicine to treat tuberculosis, Nasturium officinale showed the best activity against sensitive Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

Availability
Wild-crafted.
Cultivated.

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings

(1) Nasturtium officinale / Plants For A Future

(2) Effect of hydroalcoholic extracts of Nasturtium officinale leaves on lipid profile in high-fat diet rats./ Selfollah Bahramikla and Razieh Yazdanparast / J Ethnopharmacol. 2008 Jan 4;115(1):116-2 / doi:10.1016/j.jep.2007.09.015

(3) Nasturtium officinale reduces oxidative stress and enhances antioxidant capacity in hypercholesterolaemic rats / Razieh Yazdanparast et al / Chemico-Biological Interactions Vol 172, Issue 3, 15 April 2008/ doi:10.1016/j.cbi.2008.01.006

(4) Decrease of plasma and urinary oxidative metabolites of acetaminophen after consumption of watercress by human volunteers / Clinical pharmacology and therapeutics / 1996, vol. 60, no6, pp. 651-66

(5) Activity against drug resistant-tuberculosis strains of plants used in Mexican traditional medicine to treat tuberculosis and other respiratory diseases / Maria del Rayo Camacho-Corona et al / Phytotherapy Research • Volume 22 Issue 1, Pages 82 – 85