The nasturtium plant is native to Peru, as with potatoes, tomatoes, and corn, one of the best gifts America gave to Europe. Those Spanish Conquistadores were astonished when they saw many unknown plant species, birds, and insects and probably saw nasturtium as ornamental plants. Actually, that was their intention when they brought it to old Europe. However, soon the plant manifested its remarkable medicinal properties.
Francisco Hernandez seems to be the first person who wrote about the virtues of this plant in the book a History of the Plants of Mexico, published in 1615.
Many years have passed since pharmaceutical research has confirmed from chemical analysis and laboratory tests that the medicinal properties attributed long to this plant have a sound basis.
There is a substance with antimicrobial action in its leaves and its flowers and fruits, which acts as a true bacteriostatic antibiotic and prevents the reproduction of many pathogen micro-organisms (Bacillus subtilis, Bacillus coli, staphylococcus, pneumococcus, etc.) How many more pleasant surprises will plants still give us when tested and analyzed in-depth?
Antibiotics are substances produced by certain living beings to destroy or prevent the growth of other living beings. Fungi and bacteria produce many antibiotics used in therapeutics. The nasturtium plant is one of the few superior plants known to have the capability of creating a natural antibiotic substance, which presents the following advantages over conventional antibiotics.
- It does not destroy the bacterial flora usually living in the digestive conduct. Nasturtium does not produce diarrhea or intestinal decomposition, a frequent symptom when taking other antibiotics orally.
- It does not produce sensitivities or allergic reactions, common when using other antibiotics.
- Its application is easy and comfortable. It requires neither injections nor suppositories. It can be ingested in the form of a succulent salad vegetable, which has a pleasant flavor similar to that of mustard.
Nasturtium Plant Scientific Facts
- Scientific Name – Tropaeolum majus L.
- French – Capucine.
- Spanish – Capuchina.
- Environment – Common in warm regions of America and Europe, it is cultivated as an ornamental plant in gardens and pots.
- Description – Herbaceous annual plant of the Tropaeolaceae family, which usually grows like a creeper. It has round leaves with five groins and exuberant orange flowers with five petals.
- Parts of the plant used medicinally – The leaves, the flowers, and the fruit.
All parts of the nasturtium plant contain sulfur glycoside, glucotropaeolin, which through the action of myrosine, an enzyme contained in the plant itself, and which is liberated when breaking or mashing the plant, produces, among other substances, a sulfur essential oil with potent antibiotic properties.
After taking the plant, this essential oil passes into the blood and is eliminated through the respiratory and urinary systems. The oil reaches a higher concentration in these organs and produces its antimicrobial actions, preventing bacterial growth and reproduction.
This means that the two most important applications of the nasturtium plant are the following:
- Infections of the respiratory system – sinusitis, rhinitis, pharyngitis, and especially bronchitis, both acute and chronic. Dr. Leclerc, a famous French phytotherapist physician, stated that nasturtium “gives expectoration of people suffering from bronchitis a greater fluidity, and from being mucopurulent, it becomes simply mucus” (mucolytic action). It is also helpful for influenza and colds since its active component with antibiotic activity impregnates the whole respiratory system, reducing the congestion of the bronchi and easing coughs.
- Infections of the urinary system – Pyelonephritis (renal pelvis and kidney) and cystitis (urinary bladder). Dr. Schneider wrote about experiences that prove that its active principle with antibiotic action is still detected in the urine nine hours after eating a nasturtium plant salad.
Besides its antibiotic properties, the nasturtium plant has other properties.
- It promotes skin functions because of its high content of sulfur. When locally applied, it has cicatrizant effects on wounds and sores. It regenerates and gives smoothness to the dry skin and stimulates the hair bulb (the root of the hair), revitalizing hair and making it grow again. Hence, nasturtium is one of the plants most used in hair loss treatments. To improve its effects, you should shave your head before applying it.
- Invigorating and tonic – Perhaps due to its high content of vitamin C (285 mg per 100 grams of fresh leaves, while lemon contains, for instance, only 50 mg per 100 grams of flesh).
- Menstrual regulator – According to Messegue, sitz baths with the nasturtium plant flowers or fruits balance and normalize the menstrual cycle.
- Aphrodisiac – Moreover, and perhaps with a specific base, the nasturtium plant is said to have aphrodisiac effects. It has been called the “love flower.” Enjoy it!
How to use Nasturtium
- Salad (as invigorating and appetizer). Use young nasturtium plant flowers and leaves. It combines perfectly with lettuce.
- Infusion or decoction – Prepared with 30 grams of flowers, leaves, and fruit per liter of water. Drink a cup every day.
- Sitz baths – A handful of flowers or fruit per liter of water. The tub must be hot.
- Lotions – Grind two handfuls (20 grams) of leaves, flowers, and fresh nasturtium seeds. Then, steep in cold extract in half a liter of ethyl alcohol 96%, for two weeks. You can add ten nettle leaves, five boxwood leaves, and a spoonful of rosemary to this cold extract. Strain, and with the resulting liquid, energetically rub the scalp.
George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. “Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants.” George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants. Ed. Francesc X. Gelabert. vols. 2 San Fernando de Henares: Editorial Safeliz, 2000. 772, 773. Print.