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Watercress, Nasturtium officinale

I love watercress. The spicy, sophisticated taste fits into many dishes. To top that, it’s packed with nutrients as well. Not too long ago you could find this plant growing wild in the Netherlands. Unfortunately, these times have passed. Since you can eat different parts of this plant from early spring to autumn, this is a big loss indeed.

Medicinal properties of watercress, Nasturtium officinale

Given the high nutrient content of watercress, it isn’t surprising that this is an excellent plant to use against fatigue and to promote recovery from illness. The liver-supporting effect makes it extra suitable for this purpose. This also goes for the use in cleansing cures and other conditions where her purifying effect comes in handy. Think of eczema and acne, for example. Less known is her preventive effect against a broad spectrum of cancers.

Magical properties of Nasturtium officinale

Several flying ointment recipes mention this versatile plant, for reasons not quite clear to us. The use of watercress to protect those who travel across water makes way more sense. In addition, you can use this plant for divination purposes in multiple ways. It opens, among other things, one’s third eye and it summons prophetic dreams. Being an aquatic plant, watercress is associated with the moon.

Botanical description Watercress, Nasturtium officinale

Watercress is a small, creeping, evergreen plant that grows in or practically in water, reaching a length of up to 90 cm. The stem is hollow and succulent and floats. Thin white fibrous roots easily develop at the nodes. The glabrous leaves are odd-pinnate with 5 to 13 ovate leaflets. They are dark green in colour, succulent and juicy. The top leaf is often cordate, but can also be ovate.
The white flowers are small, up to 1 cm in diameter, and grow in a dense raceme. They bloom from April to August. The theca are yellow. After flowering, the long, narrow silicles containing 2 rows of seeds appear.

Interesting facts

Only pick when the plant is growing in running water and not near livestock, as it can harbour parasites in these cases.
Was already used by Hippocrates – the guy who created the oath that our doctors still take – as a medicinal herb.
The ancient Romans believed that watercress could cure mental illness.
Applying bruised watercress leaves helps against skin discolouration. It has been used in the past to get rid of freckles.
Also known by its Latin name Rorippa nasturtium-aquaticum

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