Nasturtium officinale R Br

Synonym ► Rorippa nasturtium-aquaticum (Linn.) Hayek.

Nelumbo nucifera Gaertn. 435

Family ► Cruciferae; Brassicaceae.

Habitat ► Cultivated in Bengal, Orissa and Punjab.

English ► Watercress.

Folk ► Piriyaa-Haalim (Punjab), Latputiyaa (Maharashtra).

Action ► Leaves—antiscorbutic, expectorant (used in catarrh of the respiratory organs), diuretic (used in kidney and bladder disorders), detoxifying. A lotion of leaves is applied to blotches, spots and blemishes. Fresh herb is used as a blood purifier.

Key application ► For catarrh of respiratory tract. (German Commission E.)

Watercress contains vitamin A 4720 IU, ascorbic acid 77 mg/100 g, also thiamine, riboflavin, niacin and biotin; mineral matter 2.2%—calcium 290, phosphorus 140, iron 4.6 mg/100 g, also sulphur, iodine, manganese, zinc, arsenic and copper; proteins 2.9%, amino acid composition includes leucine, phenylalanine, valine, lysine, tyrosine, alanine, threonine, glutamic acid, serine, aspartic acid, cystine, methionine sulphoxide and proline.

The glucosinolate phenethyl isothio-cyanate, which is released upon chewing the leaf, is a chemopreventive agent against lung cancer. (cited in Expanded Commission E Monographs.)

Watercress is contraindicated in gastric and duodenal ulcers and inflammatory kidney diseases. (Francis Brinker.)

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