The watercress is semi-aquatic perennial herb that belongs to the Brassicaceae family that is known for its aphrodisiac, therapeutic and flavoring properties.
It usually grows with the slow running stream banks and rivers in America, Asia and Europe. It is small with round leaves and it has peppery and pungent flavor. Corymbs are the small white flowers that appear in flat clusters.
The watercress’ fresh and tender leaves have to be harvested before flowering as after the flowering they are bitter and they aren’t good for consumption.
It has many uses, as a medicinal herb or as a flavoring herb. The juice of watercress can be added to vegetables juices for health benefits and flavor.
It is rich in iron, phosphorus, calcium, potassium, folate, beta-carotene, vitamin C, antioxidants and fiber and it is rich source of iodine. It has more iron than spinach and more calcium than milk.
It contains moderate amounts of manganese, copper, zinc and vitamins B1 and B2.
It has many therapeutic and health properties. As it has bitter, pungent and strong taste it is never used alone but added to salads, juices and other dishes as a garnish, flavor or ingredient.
It can treat many types of anemia as it contains iron. Iron is important for the synthesis of folic acid and hemoglobin. The vitamin C amount makes better absorption of iron.
The vitamin C makes it anti-inflammatory that can prevent and relieve the symptoms of flu, cold and other inflammation types.
It is also rich in antioxidants that help prevent or fight the damage that is caused by the free radicals. It also lowers the risk of developing cancer and other degenerative or chronic diseases.
It is shown by many historical sources that watercress has been used for its aphrodisiac effect by the ancient Persians and Romans. This can be due its iron and zinc content.
Even it isn’t definitely proven it can control the levels of blood sugar and treat or prevent high blood glucose. It’s probable that watercress’ hypoglycemic effect comes from its high content in soluble fiber that helps in reducing the carbohydrate’s absorption from the intestine.
The right proportion of vitamin A, K and C, manganese, magnesium and calcium in watercress promotes and maintains strong and health bones.
The watercress’ sulphur glycosides have been shown to modify the bronchial secretion and exert expectorant effect that can be used to treat some forms of chronic bronchitis.
Watercress improves digestive function as it is rich in fiber and vitamin C that stimulate the gastric secretions and salivary.
It was found in a laboratory test that the daily consumption of watercress can increase the cell’s ability to resist DNA damages to white blood cells (lymphocytes).
The phytonutrients zeaxanthin and lutein are powerful antioxidants and along with the zinc and vitamin A they improve the eye health.
It can be used topically to prevent hair loss and treat dandruff due its vitamin A, zinc, iron and sulfur content. Rub the scalp and hair with watercress tincture for best results.
The juice of watercress is very concentrated with cleansing goodness that activates the enzymes in the liver for detoxifying a hangover.
It has also been used for many years for its purifying effects. It gives the colon a spring cleaning and it removes the toxins from the body.
It is helpful when used topically in relieving eczema and other skin conditions. Its content fo vitamin C and A are also beneficial for healthy skin.
If chewed it can make teeth stronger and it cures the gum bleeding or gingivitis.
Its iodine content can prevent goiter, relieve the symptoms of many hypothyroidism forms and improve the function of the thyroid gland.
How to consume it to ease the respiratory problems?
The watercress’ sulphur glycosides make it effective expectorant. It is useful for loosening mucus that is caused by cold and eliminating phlegm that caused cough. Asthma and emphysema are other related respiratory ailment that can benefit from watercress.
When those who suffer from a cough or cold consume it, it helps shorten the ailment duration and reduce its intensity. If it is consumed at 1st symptoms, it prevents it from becoming full-fledged infection.
How to consume it for respiratory health?
-Consume about 1oz of fresh watercress two or three times a day, anytime.
-Boil a bunch of it on a stainless pot with water that can cover the herb for five minutes. Leave it to cool down and drink it warm.
-Juice two to three carrots, bunch of watercress and half-inch ginger and drink it until the phlegm or mucus is gone.
Additional tips for consumption:
It can be used as a basic ingredient for soups, salads or sauces. Its juice can be added to many vegetable juices for more health benefits and flavor. The juice is bitter and very strong. You shouldn’t more than 2oz of the juice, but mix it with other juices to make it easy on the stomach. You can blend it with juices of turnip leaves, spinach, potato or carrot. You can also add parsley for synergistic healing power. You can also squeeze ½ of lemon to reduce the pungent taste.
The Chinese people boil a watercress soup with ginger, black pepper, Goji berries, ginseng, carrots and dates. Discard the leaves when preparing it.
Those who suffer from bladder inflammation should avoid or limit the watercress consumption as it has bladder pain inducing effects.
Those with hyperthyroidism should also limit the watercress consumption as it contains high amount of iodine. If a person is on medications, he/she needs to consult a doctor before consuming watercress or watercress juice. This plant may react with the other drugs a person is taking.