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Family Cruciferae / Brassicaceae
Nasturtium officinale R. Br.

Xi yang cai

Scientific names   Common names 
Arabis nasturtium Clairv.  Watercress (Engl.) 
Baeumerta nasturtium P.Gaertn., B.Mey. & Schreb.  Tonghoy (Ilk.) 
Baeumerta nasturtium-aquaticum (L.) Hayek Nasturium (Engl.)
Cardamine aquatica (Garsault) Nieuwl. Cress (Engl.)
Cardamine fontana Lam.  
Cardamine nasturtium (Moench) Kuntze  
Cardamine nasturtium-aquaticum (L.) Borbas  
Cardaminum nasturtium Moench  
Crucifera fontana E.H.L.Krause  
Nasturtium fontanum Asch.  
Nasturtium nasturtium-aquaticum (L.) H.Karst.  
Nasturtium officinale R.Br..  
Nasturtium siifolium Rchb.  
Radicula nasturtium (Moench) Druce  
Radicula nasturtium-aquaticum (L.) Britten & Rendle  
Rorripa nasturtium (Moench) Beck  
Rorripa nasturtium-aquaticum (L.) Hayek  
Rorripa officinalis (W.T.Aiton) P.Royen  
Sisymbrium nasturtium (Moench) Willd.   
Sisymbrium nasturtium-aquaticum L.   
Nasturtium officinale R.Br. is an accepted name The Plant List

Other vernacular names
CHINESE: Xi yang cai.

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 1,300 meters.

• 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
(1 cup,chopped/34g) 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.

Parts utilized
Seeds, leaves.

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)

Cardioprotective / 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)
Hepatoprotective: 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)

- Wild-crafted.
- Cultivated.
- Seeds, extracts, supplements in the cybermarket.

Last Update December 2016

Photo © Godofredo Stuart / StuartXchange
IMAGE SOURCE: Public Domain / File:Illustration Nasturtium officinale0.jpg / Prof. Dr. Otto Wilhelm Thomé Flora von Deutschland, Österreich und der Schweiz 1885, Gera, Germany / Permission granted to use under GFDL by Kurt Stueber / Wikimedia Commons

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
Nasturtium officinale / Plants For A Future
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
Watercress (Nasturtium officinale R.Br.) / Natural Standard . Integrative Medicine
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
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

An Experimental Model for Study of the Hepatoprotective Activity of Nasturtium Officinale (Watercress) Against Acetaminophen Toxicity using in Situ Rat Liver System / Alireza Ebadollahi Natanzi / European Journal of Scientific Research • ISSN 1450-216X Vol.38 No.4 (2009), pp 556-564
Platelet Aggregatory Effects of Nasturtium officinale and Solanum torvum Extracts / H Moriyama et al / Nat Med • VOL.57;NO.4;PAGE.133-138(2003) /
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
Nasturtium officinale / Synonyms / The Plant List
In vivo anti-inflammatory properties of aerial parts of Nasturtium officinale. / Sadeghi H, Mostafazadeh M, Sadeghi H, Naderian M, Barmak MJ, Talebianpoor MS, Mehraban F. / Pharm Biol. 2014 Feb;52(2):169-74. / doi: 10.3109/13880209.2013.821138. Epub 2013 Oct 25.
Nasturtium officinale / Watercress / Useful Tropical Plants
Effects of hydrophilic extract of Nasturtium officinale on prevention of ethylene glycol induced renal stone in male Wistar rats / Sadrollah Mehrabi, * Eslam Askarpour, Farhad Mehrabi, and Ramin Jannesar / J Nephropathol. 2016 Oct; 5(4): 123–127 / doi: 10.15171/jnp.2016.23
Watercress Drug Interactions / WebMD
Watercress-Nasturtium officinale / Nutritional Value / Health Benefits
Protective effects of Nasturtium officinale against gamma-irradiation-induced hepatotoxicity in C57 mice / M. Karami, A. Nosrati, M. Naderi, M. Makhloogh, S. Shahani* / Research Journal of Pharmacognosy (RJP) 2(2), 2015: 19-25
Evaluation of Antihepatotoxic Effect of Watercress Extract and its Fractions in Rats / A.R. Ebadollahi Natanzi, M.H. Ghahremani, H.R. Monsef Esfehani, M.B. Minaei, H. Nazarian and O. Sabzevari / International Journal of Pharmacology, 6: 896-902. / DOI: 10.3923/ijp.2010.896.902
Antibacterial activity of extracts of twelve common medicinal plants from the Philippines / Gerard L. Penecilla* and Celia P. Magno / Journal of Medicinal Plants Research Vol. 5(16), pp. 3975-3981, 18 August, 2011
EFFECTS OF AQUEOUS EXTRACT OF WATER CRESS ON GLUCOSE AND LIPID PLASMA IN STREPTOZOTOCIN INDUCED DIABETIC RATS / Nadar Shahrokhi, Muhammad Khaksari Hadad, Zakieh Keshavarzi, Muhammad Shabani* / Pak J Physiol 2009;5(2)
SUB-ACUTE TOXICITY STUDY OF HERBAL BLOOD TONIC (HAMEBUILD) IN ALBINO RATS. / OTIMENYIN*, S. O., OLORUNFEMI, P. O, AUDU, O. M., AND SABO, S. / Asian Journal of Pharmaceutical and Clinical Research Vol 6, Suppl 2, 2013
Northern-Tradition Shamanism / Raven Kaldera
n vitro anti-fungal activity of watercress (Nasturtium officinale) extract against Fusarium solani, the causal agent of potato dry rot / Jafar Nikan; Hadi Khavari / Journal of Herbal Drugs, Article 4, Volume 5, Issue 1, Spring 2014, Page 19-24
The Study of the Effect of Aqueous and Alcoholic Extracts of Indigenous Medicinal Plant of Arasbaran of Intestinal Bacteria / Hadi Alizadeh, Mehdi Ghiamirad, Reza Khalili, Ebrahim Hazrati4 Marjan Iranzad, Mahtab Noorifard / J. Appl. Environ. Biol. Sci., 5(7S)295-297, 2015
ANTIMYCOBACTERIAL COMPOUNDS FROM NASTURTIUM OFFICINALE / Rodrígo Quezada-Lázaro, Eunice A Fernández-Zuñiga, Abraham García, Elvira Garza-González, Laura Alvarez, Maria del Rayo Camacho-Corona / Afr J Tradit Complement Altern Med, 13, No 2 (2016)
Evaluation of the safety of long-term oral administratio of nasturtium officinale in healthy rats / Shahnaz Shekarforoush*, Morteza Nabizadeh, Reza Soleimani, Hamideh Eftekhari / Asian Journal of Traditional Medicines, 2016, 11(5)

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