Nasturtium officinale is a floating aquatic plant with very
branched creeping stems. 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. The pods are 1.2 to 2.5 centimeters long, stalked and spreading,
or bent upward. Seeds are small and 2-seriate.
- Abundant in shallow waters and small
streams in the Trinidad valley, Benguet areas, at altitudes of about
• 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
• Nutritional analysis of raw watercress
yielded: (Proximates) water 32.34g, energy 4 Kcal, energy 16 kJ, protein 0.78g, ash 0.41g, carbohydrate 0.44g, total dietary fiber 0.2g, total sugars 0.07g; (Minerals) calcium 41mg, iron 0.07mg, magnesium 7 mg, phosphorus 20mg, potassium 112mg, sodium 14mg, zinc 0.04mg, copper 0.026mg, manganese 0.083mg, selenium 0.3µg; (vitamins) (water soluble vitamins) thiamin (B1) 0.031mg, riboflavin (B2) 0.041mg, niacin (B3) 0.068mg, pantothenic acid (B5) 0.105mg, pyridoxine (B6) 0.044mg, folate (B9) 3µg, folate food 3µg, folate DEF 3µg, choline 3.1mg, ascorbic acid (vit C) 14.6mg; (Fat soluble vitamins) vitamin A RAE 54 µg, vitamin A IU 1085IU, beta carotene 651µg, lutein+ zeaxanthine 1961 µg, alpha-tocopherol (vit E) 0.34mg, vitamin K (phylloguinone) 85µg. (USDA)(15)
• Nutrition analysis on lipids yielded: (Total saturated fatty acids 0.009g) palmitic acid 0.008g, stearic acid 0.001g; (Total monosaturated fatty acids) palmitoleic acid 0.001g, oleic acid 0.002g; (total polyunsaturated fatty acids) linoleic acid 0.004g, linolenic acid 0.008g. Flavonol content yielded kaempferol 7.8mg, myricetin 0.1mg, quercetin 10.2mg. (USDA) (15)
• Ethanol extract yielded alkaloids +, flavonoids ++, glycosides ++. terpenoids ++, and saponins +++. (18)
• A good source of calcium;
a fair source of iron.
• A good source of calcium;
a fair source of iron.
• Antiscorbutic; rich in vitamins A and C; fair in vitamin D.
• Considered stimulant and aphrodisiac.
• Leaves considered antiscorbuticv, diuretic, expectorant, purgative, hypoglycemic.
• Studies have shown antioxidant, cardioprotective, hypolipidemic, hepatoprotective, platelet-aggregating, antituberculous properties.
Edibility / Culinary
- Leaves and seeds are edible.
- Leaves are eaten 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
- 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, externally
for skin irritations and inflammations.
- Used for the treatment of renal stones.
- Used for diuresis.
- Used as hair tonic, believed to promote hair growth.
- Poultice of leaves used for lymphatic swellings.
- In Mexico, traditionally used to treat respiratory infections such as tuberculosis.
- In Iran, used as a cardioprotective
agent. Used for hypertension, hyperglycemia and renal colic. (10)
- Juice of plant used on tobacco as a nicotine solvent.
- Hamebuild: In Nigeria, Nasturtium officinale is one of 8 herbal ingredients of Hamebuild, a herbal blood tonic mixture. (see study below) (20)
- Sacred Herb: In Shamanic herbalism, watercress (Nasturtium officinale) is considered one of nine sacred herbs. (21)
/ Hypolipidemic: Study of the hydroalcoholic extract
of N officinale on rats lowered total and LDL cholesterol and triglycerides
while raising serum HDL levels. Results shows a cardioprotective effect
and supports a basis for medical application. (2)
• 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. (4)
Study of the alcoholic extract of N officinale showed it significantly diminished acetaminophen-induced liver damage in a rat model. (6)
• 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. (7)
• Anti-Tuberculosis Activity:
In a study evaluating nine plants used in Mexican traditional medicine to treat tuberculosis, Nasturtium officinale showed the best activity against sensitive Mycobacterium tuberculosis. (8)
• Anti-Inflammatory / Aerial Parts: Study evaluated the anti-inflammatory activity of a hydroalcoholic extract from aerial parts of N. officinale in animal models of inflammation, including carrageenan- or formalin-induced paw edema in rats. The extract significantly inhibited carrageenan-induced paw edema and showed considerable activity against formalin-induced paw edema. Topical application at 5mg/per ear reduced TPA-induced ear edema (p<0.05). Results showed potent anti-inflammatory activity in systemic and topical applications. (10)
• Preventive Effect on Renal Stone Formation: Study evaluated the effects of hydrophilic extract of Nasturtium officinale on ethylene glycol-induced renal stone in male Wistar rats. Results showed no significant effects on calcium oxalate stone formation in rats, but in low dose, showed some preventive effect on renal stone formation. (12)
• Drug Interactions: Potential moderate drug interactions are of concern: (1) Chlorzoxazone (Parafon Forte, Paraflex): Watercress may decrease how quickly the body breaks down chlorzoxazone and increase its effects and side effects. (2) Watercress may decrease the body's excretion of lithium and may increase serum lithium levels and side effects. (3) Warfarin (Coumadin): Watercress contains large amounts of vitamin K which may decrease the anticoagulant effectiveness of warfarin. (13)
• Antioxidant / Leaves: Study evaluated the in vitro and in vivo antioxidative properties of aqueous and ethanolic extracts of leaf of N. officinale. The ethanolic extract was found to be the most active in total antioxidant activity, reducing power, DPPH radicals and superoxide anion radicals scavenging activities. It decreased lipid peroxidation in liver, brain, and kidney of rats. (14)
• Hepatoprotective / Gamma-Irradiation-Induced Toxicity in C57 Mice: Study investigated the protective effect of methanolic extract of N. officinale against gamma-radiation induced hepatotoxicity in terms of histopathological changes in male C57 mice. Pretreatment before γ-radiation significantly lowered the incidence of portal and periportal inflammation, together with slight reduction in liver cell necrosis, edema and congestion. The protection may be attributed to the presence of phenols and isothiocyanates in the extract which act as antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agents. (16)
• Hepatoprotective / Acetaminophen Induced Toxicity / Toxicity Study: Study evaluated N. officinale and its three fractions for hepatoprotective effect against acetaminophen induced toxicity in rats. Study showed a hepatoprotective effect with significant prevention in the rise of serum enzyme markers together with reversal of histopathological changes. Petroleum fraction showed an LD50 of more than 3823 mg/kg, while the n-butyl alcohol and aqueous fractions were non-toxic up to 5743 mg/kg. (17)
• Antibacterial: In a study of Philippine medicinal plants for antibacterial activity against Staphylococcuss aureus, Bacillus subtilis, Escherichia coli, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Nasturtium officinale was one of the plants that showed highly positive activity with mean zone of inhibition range of 15 to 30 mm. (see constituents above) (18)
• Anti-Diabetic: Study evaluated the effect of N. officinale on plasma lipid and glucose levels in diabetic rats. Results showed reduction of plasma glucose in the treatment groups. There was no effect on plasma lipids. (19)
• Hamebuild / Alleged Herbal Blood Tonic: Hamebuild is a Nigerian herbal blood tonic composed of 8 herbal ingredients: Urtica dioica 10%, Rumex acetose 15%, Polygonum aviculare 10%, Nasturtium officinale 10%, Eugenia tomentosa 10%, Taraxacum officinale 10%, Panax ginseng 10%, and Trigonella foecum (10%), with gamma globulin (10%) and water. Oral LD50 was greater than 5,000 mg/kg body weight. Study showed Hamebuild did not show significant influence on hematological, biochemical, or histopathological parameters in rats. The safety profile may explain its continued use in Nigeria. (20)
• Antifungal: Study evaluated the antifungal effect of watercress extract on growth of Fusarium solani, the causal agent of potato dry rot. All concentrations of the alcoholic extract significantly inhibited mycelia growth of Fusarium solani on PDA medium in a dose dependent manner. Results suggest a potential for the manufacture of natural fungicidal compounds. (22)
• Anti-Intestinal Bacteria:Study evaluated the effects of aqueous and alcoholic extracts of N. officinale on intestinal bacteria i.e., Escherichia coli and Enterococcus faecalis. Results showed the alcoholic extract had significant effect on both bacteria. The aqueous extract had little or close to zero effect on the bacteria. E. coli was more sensitive than E. faecalis. (23)
• Antimycobacterial Components: In a study focused on fractionation and identification of antimycobacterial principles in the plant species, 14 fractions were assayed, of which only fractions 3 to 5 showed good inhibitory activity against M. tuberculosis H37Rv. E-phytol was identified as the most abundant component. Antimycobacterial properties were attributed to E-phytol and palmitic acid. (24)
• Long-Term Safety Evaluation: Study evaluated the effects of water extract orally administered daily for 60 days at dose levels of 500 and 1000 mg/kbw in male Wistar rats. There were no changes in behavioral outcomes. Results suggest long term administration up to 1000 mg/kg in not likely to produce toxic effects. (25)
- Seeds, extracts, supplements in the cybermarket.