Nasturtium is an annual plant that hails from the Tropaeolaceae family. Its botanical name is Tropaeolum majus. It should not be confused with watercress, whose Latin name is Nasturtium officinale. It can grow up to 20 cm in height and spreads like a creeper. The leaves are flat and circular with white visible veins. The plant produces yellow, orange or red flowers.The plant grows in properly drained soil and needs sun or semi-shade.
It is commonly called: Common nasturtium, climbing nasturtium, garden nasturtium, trädgårdskrasse (Swedish), Kapuzinerkresse (German), Indian cres, capucine grande (French). Native to South America, this particular plant is cultivated worldwide as an ornamental plant.
In the 1600s, the herb was first introduced from Peru to Europe, but it was used for medicinal purposes for years in South America.
The fresh or dried leaves, flowers, and the seed pods can be used for culinary and medicinal purposes. The main contents of nasturtium are glucosinolates, mustard oil, flavonoids, carotenoids and vitamin C. Nasturtium has disinfectant and healing properties too, along with its strong antibiotic and antimicrobial properties.
This herb is popularly used for naturally treating urinary tract infections and respiratory tract infections. It is also used to treat bacterial infections, minor wounds and cuts.
The ripe buds are dried for consumption as they offer a laxative effect and do not harm the intestinal flora. It contains immunity-boosting vitamin C and hence can be used as a natural herbal remedy for common cold and influenza.
Nasturtium is believed to promote the formation of RBCs or red blood cells, and has been used in traditional medicine as a remedy against scurvy. It was also used traditionally to treat muscular pain.
The herb is also used to treat hair loss and to promote new hair growth. When applied directly on the skin, it works to destroy fungal infections, including yeast infection.
It is among the most powerful antibacterial plants known to us and is most effective when used fresh and crushed into a paste for external use or infused with any essential oil for added benefits.
Pregnant or lactating mothers should discontinue the use of this herb. People with kidney/ stomach/ intestinal tract disorders should not use this herb in any form either.