Garden Cress Extract Kills 97% of Breast Cancer Cells in Vitro: Garden cress, like broccoli, is a cruciferous-family vegetable but is unique because it contains very high amounts of BITC (benzyl isothiocyanate) which has emerged as a powerful anti-cancer compound. In this study, BITC was seen to kill 97% of ER- breastcancer cells (MDA-MB-231) after 24 hours of treatment. For comparison, the same dose of sulforaphane from broccoli killed only 75% of the cancer cells.
In other research, BITC has been found to slow the rate of breast cancer metastasizing by 86% and when given to mice, resulted in breast tumors 53% smaller than in untreated mice. BITC is now being intensively studied for a variety of cancers and has been shown in lab studies to be active against melanoma, glioma, prostate cancer, lung cancer, ovarian cancer, pancreatic cancer and others. Garden cress is one of the best sources of BITC. Other good sources include cabbage, Indian cress, Japanese radish (in particular Karami daikon) and, quite surprisingly, papaya seeds. As with othercruciferous vegetables, the best way to eat cress is raw in order to maximize the delivery of BITC.
Botanical name: Lepidium sativum L.
Family: Brassicaceae = Cruciferae
Common names. English: cress, common cress, garden cress, land cress, pepper cress; Spanish: mastuerzo, mastuerzo hortense, lepidio, berro de jardín (Spain), berro de sierra, berro hortense (Argentina), escobilla (Costa Rica); Catalan: morritort, morrisà, Portuguese and Galician: masturco, mastruco, agrião-mouro, herba do esforzo; Portuguese: mastruco do Sul, agrião (Brazil); Basque: buminka, beatzecrexu
Synonyms/Common Names/Related Substances:
- Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), agrião (Portuguese), agrião-mouro (Portuguese, Galician), beatzecrexu (Basque), berro de jardín (Spanish), berro de tierra (Spanish), berro hortense (Spanish), benzyl isothiocyanate (BITC), Brassicaceae (family), bran, buminka (Basque), common cress, cress, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), escobilla (Spanish), endosperm, fiber, garden cress seed oil (GCO), garden pepper grass, glucosinolates, glutamic acid, herba do esforzo (Portuguese, Galician), hurf (Arabic), indoles, isothiocyanates, kardamon (Greek), land cress, linoleic acid (LA), lectin, lepidio (Spanish), Lepidium sativium, Lepidium sativum, leucine, mastruco (Portuguese, Galician), mastruco do sul (Portuguese), mastuerzo (Spanish), mastuerzo hortense (Spanish), methanol, morrisá (Catalan), morritort (Catalan), nasturtium (Latin), nasum torcere (Latin), omega-3 fatty acid, pepper cress, pepper grass, pepperwort, sulforaphane, tuffa’ (Arabic), turehtezuk (Persian), water cress, whole meal.
- Combination product example: SulforaWhite (a liposomal preparation that contains Lepidium sativum sprout extract, glycerin, lecithin, phenoxyethanol, and water).
Garden cress [commonly known as aliv in Marathi or halim in Hindi] is a green, cool-season perennial plant used as a leafy vegetable, typically used as a garnish. Undisturbed, the plant can grow to a height of two feet with minimal maintenance. When mature, garden cress produces white or light-pink flowers, and small seed pods. It has long leaves at the bottom of the stem and small, bright-green, feather-like leaves arranged on opposite sides of its stalks at the top.
Garden Cress, also called Pepper Wort, is an herb that is botanically known as Lepidium Sativum. It is referred to as ‘Aliv’ in Marathi and ‘Halim’ in Hindi. Belonging to the family Cruciferae, it is grown in all parts of India and is often used in the Indian cuisine. The leaves, roots, as well as seeds of this plant are used in cooking as they are extremely nutritious and also therapeutic in nature. The flowers of this plant are either white or light-pink in color.
This herb is the best source of iron and is hence recommended in the treatment of iron-deficiency anemia. It is also rich in folate, calcium, ascorbic acid, tocopherol, and beta-carotene. Garden Cress seeds are loaded with not just protein, but also linoleic and arachidic fatty acids. Since they contain phytochemicals that mimic estrogen to some extent, intake of these seeds is known to regulate menstruation and stimulate milk production in lactating mothers. That is precisely why women are given foods containing Garden Cress following childbirth.
The blood-purifying as well as antioxidant properties of this amazing plant are well documented. Hence, its regular consumption can greatly help to boost one’s immunity and prevent a gamut of diseases. It acts as a general tonic and can also help to increase the libido naturally. Since the testae of these seeds contain mucilage, they are invaluable in the management of both dysentery and constipation. The whole plant, along with its seeds, is said to be good for the eyes too. Hence, it is advisable to add it raw to salads, sandwiches, and chutneys, or to simply use it as a garnish along with coriander leaves for any food item.
Pregnant women should avoid taking Garden Cress in any form because it has the ability to induce uterine contractions and thereby trigger a spontaneous abortion. Also, since it is goitrogenic in nature, it may not be suitable for patients suffering from hypothyroidism. The oil derived from Garden Cress seeds is edible and can therefore be used as a cooking medium; however, some people may experience symptoms of indigestion due to its use. Such individuals should discontinue using this oil or mix it with some other edible oil, so as to dilute it and reduce its adverse effects.
Cress (Lepidium sativum), sometimes referred to as garden cress to distinguish it from similar plants also referred to as cress, is a rather fast-growing, edible herb. Garden cress is genetically related to watercress and mustard, sharing their peppery, tangy flavor and aroma. In some regions, garden cress is known as mustard and cress, garden pepper cress, pepperwort pepper grass, or poor man’s pepper.
This annual plant can reach a height of 60 cm (~24 inches), with many branches on the upper part. The white to pinkish flowers are only 2 mm (1/12 of an inch) across, clustered in branched racemes.
Origin of the name
Cultivation of this species, which is native to Southwest Asia (perhaps Persia) and which spread many centuries ago to western Europe, is very old, as is shown by the philological trace of its names in different Indo-European languages. These include the Persian word turehtezuk, the Greek kardamon, the Latin nasturtium and Arabic tuffa’ and hurf. In some languages there is a degree of confusion with watercress. It seems that the meaning of the word nasturtium (nasum torcere, because its smell causes the nose to turn up) must have been applied initially to garden cress, as both Pliny and Isidoro de Sevilla explain. The confusion remains with the terms used by the Hispano-Arabs. The word hurf is applied without distinction to watercress and garden cress (several species certainly of up to three different genera: Nasturtium, Lepidium and Cardaria). Thus the medieval agronomists of Andalusia went as far as differentiating between several hurf, such as hurf abyad, hurf babili, hurf madani….
Garden cress in agriculture
Garden cress is commercially grown in England, France, the Netherlands and Scandinavia.
Cultivation of garden cress is practical on both mass scales and on the individual scale. Garden cress is suitable for hydroponic cultivation and thrives in slightly alkaline water. In many local markets, the demand for hydroponically grown cress can exceed available supply, partially because cress leaves are not suitable for distribution in dried form, so can be only partially preserved. Consumers commonly acquire cress as seeds or (in Europe) from markets as boxes of young live shoots.
Edible shoots are typically harvested in one to two weeks after planting, when they are 5–13 cm (2 – 5 inches) tall.
Properties, uses and cultivation
Xenophon (400 BC) mentions that the Persians used to eat this plant even before bread was known. It was also familiar to the Egyptians and was very much appreciated by the Greeks and Romans, who were very fond of banquets rich in spices and spicy salads. Columela (first century) makes direct reference to the cultivation of garden cress. In Los doce libros de Agricultura, he writes: ” …immediately after the calends of January, garden cress is sown out… when you have transplanted it before the calends of March, you will be able to harvest it like chives, but less often… it must not be cut after the calends of November because it dies from frosts, but can resist for two years if it is hoed and manured carefully… there are also many sites where it lives for up to ten years” (Book XI). The latter statements seem to indicate that he is also speaking of the perennial species L. Iatifolium, as L. sativum is an annual.
Almost all of the Andalusian agronomists of the Middle Ages (Ibn Hayyay, Ibn Wafid, Ibn al-Baytar, Ibn Luyun, Ibn al-Awwam) and many of the doctors, such as Maimonides, mention garden cress. Ibn al-Awwam also includes references from Abu al-Jair, Abu Abdalah as well as from Nabataean agriculture and, among other comments, he says: “Garden cress is sown between February and April (in January in Seville). It has small seeds which are mixed with earth for sowing to prevent the wind carrying them away…. It is harvested in May and is grown between ridges, in combination/conjunction with flax cultivation.”
Many of the authors of the old oriental and Mediterranean cultures emphasized the medicinal properties of cress, especially as an antiscorbutic, depurative and stimulant. Columela notes its vermifugal powers. Ibn al-Awwam refers to certain apparently antihistaminic properties, since it was used against insect bites and also as an insect repellent, in the form of a fumigant. It was perhaps Ibn al-Baytar, an Andalusian botanist (eighth century), who collected most information on its properties, summarizing the opinions of other authors such as El Farcy, who says that it incites coitus and stimulates the appetite; Ibn Massa, according to whom it dissipates colic and gets rid of tapeworms and other intestinal worms; or Ibn Massouih, who mentions that it eliminates viscous humours. Ibn al-Baytar also says that it is administered against leprosy, is useful for renal “cooling” and that, if hair is washed with garden cress water, it is “purified” and any loss is arrested.
In Iran and Morocco, the seeds are used as an aphrodisiac. In former Abyssinia, an edible oil was obtained from the seeds. In Eritrea, it was used as a dyestuff plant. Some Arab scholars have attributed garden cress’s reputation among Muslims to the fact that it was directly recommended by the Prophet.
Garden cress’s main use was always as an aromatic and slightly pungent plant. Not only in antiquity but also in the Middle Ages it enjoyed considerable prestige on royal tables. The young leaves were used for salads. The ancient Spartans ate them with bread. This use still continues and they are also eaten with bread and butter or with bread to which lemon, vinegar or sugar is added. However, it is mainly used nowadays in the seedling stage, the succulent hypocotyls being added to salads and as a garnish and decoration for dishes.
The roots, seeds and leaves have been used as a spicy condiment. Columela explains how oxygala, a type of curd cheese with herbs, was prepared: “Some people, after collecting cultivated or even wild garden cress, dry it in the shade and then, after removing the stem, add its leaves to brine, squeezing them and placing them in milk without any other seasoning, and adding the amount of salt they consider sufficient…. Others mix fresh leaves of cultivated cress with sweetened milk in a pot…”.
L. Iatifolium L. stands out for its horticultural interest; although it grows spontaneously on the edges of rivers and lakes, it is also occasionally grown in the same way as L. sativum. Its young leaves can be used for salads; the ancient Greeks and Romans used to grow it for this purpose. Its leaves and seeds were also used as a spicy condiment. Several sauces are prepared with its leaves, including in particular the bitter sauce of the paschal lamb of the Jews. The seeds of this species were known in England as the poor people’s pepper. The roots have been used on occasion as a substitute for radish.
In the fifteenth century, we know through Alonso de Herrera that garden cress was one of the vegetables most widely eaten in Castile. During the sixteenth century, obstinate attempts were made to introduce it into America. Right up to the beginning of the nineteenth century, its cultivation in Spain continued to be important, since Boutelou and Boutelou (1801) deal specifically with this crop in their Tratado de la huerta, commenting on the existence of several cultivars. At present, the cultivation of cress is very occasional in countries such as Spain and France. Water cress, in competition with garden cress, has eclipsed the cultivation of the latter. However, this is not the case in other central European countries or the United Kingdom, where its use is normal and the system of cultivation has changed substantially.
Cress is an annual, erect herbaceous plant, growing up to 50 cm. The basal leaves have long petioles and are lyrate-pinnatipartite; the caulinar leaves are laciniate-pinnate while the upper leaves are entire. The inflorescences are in dense racemes. The flowers have white or slightly pink petals, measuring 2 mm. The siliquae measure 5 to 6 x 4 mm, are elliptical, elate from the upper half, and glabrous. Cress flowers in the wild state between March and June.
It is an allogamous plant with self-compatible and self-incompatible forms and with various degrees of tolerance to prolonged autogamy. There are diploid forms, 2n = 2x = 16, and tetraploid forms, 2n = 4x =32. A degree of variability is noted in the character of the basal leaves which are cleft or split to a greater or lesser degree, a character which is controlled by a single incompletely dominant gene.
Ecology and phytogeography
Cress is a plant that is well suited to all soils and climates, although it does not tolerate frosts. In temperate conditions, it has a very rapid growth rate. It grows subspontaneously in areas transformed by humans, close to crops or human settlements. It appears in this way on the Iberian peninsula, mainly in the eastern regions.
Wild cress extends from the Sudan to the Himalayas. Most authors consider it to be a native of western Asia, whence it passed very quickly to Europe and the rest of Asia as a secondary crop, probably associated with cultivars of flax. Vavilov considers its main centre to be Ethiopia, where he found the widest variability; the Near East, central Asia and the Mediterranean are considered secondary centres. It is now naturalized in numerous parts of Europe, including the British Isles.
Cress in cookery
The genus Lepidium is made up of about 150 species, distributed throughout almost all temperate and subtropical regions of the world. On the Iberian peninsula and the Balearic Islands, at least 20 species or subspecies exist among the autochthonous and allochthonous taxa, some genetically close to L. sativum. Seven of them are exclusively endemic to the peninsula or, at the very most, are common with North Africa. Other close species are L. campestre (L.) R. Br. and L. ruderale L. which also have edible leaves. The leaves of L. campestre are used to prepare excellent sauces for fish.
Common cress (L. sativum L.), with regard to the anatomy of the leaf, stem and root, has been divided into three botanical varieties: vulgare, crispum and latifolium. The latter is the most mesomorphic, crispum the most xeromorphic and vulgare intermediate.
At present, most of the studies on the variability and development of new cultivars are being carried out in liaison with the VIR of St Petersburg, where there is a good collection of material. Of the 350 forms of garden cress studied in the Ukraine, Uzkolistnyti 3 was the best, being highly productive and of good quality. It is being used as the basis of improvement programmes, as it appreciably surpasses the best Soviet varieties in production and quality. Other cultivars well suited to European Russia are Tuikers Grootbladige (broad-leaved) and the lines Mestnyi k 137, k 106 and k 115. Of the types most cultivated in Europe, Early European, Eastern, Dagestan and Entire Leaved stand out, being distinguished by the length and shape of the leaf, earliness and susceptibility to cold. In Western Europe, one broad leaved type is especially appreciated (Broad Leaved French) as are curly types (Curly Leaved), the latter being used extensively to garnish dishes. In Africa, there are red, white and black varieties.
This crop is also arousing interest in Japan, and collecting expeditions to Nepal have been organized. Some specimens collected during an expedition to Iraq in 1986 are now stored in Abu Ghraib and in Gratersleben, Germany. There are also small collections of L. sativum in the PGRC in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), at the ARARI of Izmir in Turkey and in Bari, Italy. At the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid there are accessions of 20 species of Lepidium, while the BGV of the Córdoba Botanical Garden keeps germplasm of the southern Iberian species of the genus.
|Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)|
|Energy||134 kJ (32 kcal)|
|– Sugars||4.4 g|
|– Dietary fiber||1.1 g|
|Vitamin A equiv.||346 μg (43%)|
|– beta-carotene||4150 μg (38%)|
|– lutein and zeaxanthin||12500 μg|
|Thiamine (vit. B1)||0.08 mg (7%)|
|Riboflavin (vit. B2)||0.26 mg (22%)|
|Niacin (vit. B3)||1 mg (7%)|
|Pantothenic acid (B5)||0.247 mg (5%)|
|Vitamin B6||0.247 mg (19%)|
|Folate (vit. B9)||80 μg (20%)|
|Vitamin C||69 mg (83%)|
|Vitamin E||0.7 mg (5%)|
|Vitamin K||541.9 μg (516%)|
|Calcium||81 mg (8%)|
|Iron||1.3 mg (10%)|
|Magnesium||38 mg (11%)|
|Manganese||0.553 mg (26%)|
|Phosphorus||76 mg (11%)|
|Potassium||606 mg (13%)|
|Link to USDA Database entry
Percentages are roughly approximated
using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database
Garden cress is added to soups, sandwiches and salads for its tangy flavor. It is also eaten as sprouts, and the fresh or dried seed pods can be used as a peppery seasoning (haloon). In England, cut cress shoots are commonly used in sandwiches with boiled eggs, mayonnaise and salt.
Garden cress can grow almost anywhere.
Garden cress is an important source of iron, folic acid, calcium, vitamins C, E and A. The seed contains arachidic and linoleic fatty acids. The seeds are high in calories and protein, whereas the leaves are an excellent source of vitamin A, C and folate.
|Dietary fibre||1.1 g|
|Vitamin A||346 mcg|
|Vitamin C||69 mg|
Both the leaves and stems of cress can be eaten raw in salads or sandwiches, and are sometimes called cress sprouts. When buying cress, look for firm, evenly coloured, rich green leaves. Avoid cress with any signs of slime, wilting, or discoloration. If stored in plastic, it can last up to five days in a refrigerator. To prolong the life of cress, place the stems in a glass container with water and cover them, refrigerating the cress until it is needed.
Cress is an easily grown plant with few requirements. It can be broadcast after the winter frosts or throughout the year in temperate climates. However, Boutelou and Boutelou (1801) were already recommending sowing in shallow furrows, which enables surplus plants to be thinned out and facilitates hoeing. Sowing has to be repeated every 15 to 20 days so that there is no shortage of young shoots and new leaves for salads – the leaves of earlier sowings begin to get tough and are no longer usable. The seed sprouts four or six days after sowing, depending on the season, and the leaves are ready for consumption after two or three weeks.
The usual form of cultivation continues to be as described, with 15 to 20 cm between rows and the use of irrigation in the summer, since they are lightly rooted seedlings which can dry up in a few days. Its growth is very rapid and harvesting can begin in the same month as sowing, with yields reaching 6 tonnes per hectare.
Health benefits of garden cress
For women’s health
Emenagogue: Garden cress has mild oestrogenic properties. It helps to regulate the menstrual cycle.
Galactogogue: Kheer made of garden cress seeds increases milk production and secretion in lactating mothers. Because of its high iron and protein content, it is often given post-partum to lactating mothers.
Aphrodisiac: Garden cress helps to improve libido.
For the gastro intestinal tract
Garden cress helps purify blood and stimulate appetite. It is used during constipation as a laxative and a purgative. Paste made of the seeds can be taken internally with honey to treat amoebic dysentery. The mucilage of the germinating seeds allays the irritation of the intestines in dysentery and diarrhoea. Garden cress crushed and drunk with hot water is beneficial to treat colic especially in infants.
For the respiratory tract
Garden cress seeds are good expectorants and when chewed they treat sore throat, cough, asthma and headache. The aerial parts are used in the treatment of asthma and cough.
Garden cress seeds being the richest source of non-haeme iron [iron found in haemoglobin which is an easily absorbed dietary iron.] help to increase the haemoglobin levels. When taken regularly, it helps to alleviate anaemia. It is advisable to have vitamin C half an hour after consumption of these seeds as it enhances iron absorption.
The seed coat of germinating seeds contains mucilage, which has a phytochemical called lepidimoide. Studies show that seeds of the plant lower the glycemic response to a test meal.
note sodium 2-O-rhamnopyranosyl-4-deoxy-threo-hex-4-enopyranosiduronate (designated lepidimoide)
cas 145039-76-5 and 157676-09-0
The total synthesis of the unsaturated disaccharide, lepidimoide 4-deoxy--l-threo-hex-4-enopyranuronosyl-(1->2)-l-rhamnopyranose sodium salt, has been carried out from d-glucose and l-rhamnose (Tetrahedron Lett. 1993, 34, 2653), but the process is very long and complicated. A method for more easily producing this compound and in large quantities is necessary for further research. We have succeeded in conveniently synthesizing lepidimoide from okra (Hibiscus esculentus L.) fruit mucilage. At the same time, the isomer (epi-lepidimoide) was obtained as a byproduct. The structure was determined as the 4-deoxy--l-threo-hex-4-enopyranuronosyl-(1->2)-6-deoxy-l-glucopyranose sodium salt by spectral analysis. We found that lepidimoide easily epimerized to epi-lepidimoide in alkaline media. Both lepidimoide and epi-lepidimoide exhibited the same high activity in the cockscomb hypocotyls elongation test….Carbohydrate Research, Volume 339, Number 1, 2 January 2004 , pp. 9-19(11)
books.google.co.in/books?isbn=0412604302John Buckingham – 1996 – Science
Lepidimoide. L-30020. 6-Deoxy-2-0-(4-deoxy-fi-L-lhreo-hex-4-enopyranuronosyl)-L- mannose, 9CI [157676-09-0] HOA—O …lepidimoideSodium 2-O-L-rhamnopyranosyl-4-deoxy-alpha-L-threo-hex-4-eno-pyranosiduronateMolecular Formula: C12H17NaO10 Molecular Weight: 344.247149sodium;(2S,3R,4S)-3,4-dihydroxy-2-[(2S,3R,4R,5R,6S)-2,4,5-trihydroxy-6-methyloxan-3-yl]oxy-3,4-dihydro-2H-pyran-6-carboxylateSodium2-O-L-rhamnopyranosyl-4-deoxy-α-L-threo-hex-4-eno-pyranosiduronate
Garden cress seeds contain antioxidants like vitamin A and E which help protect cells from damage by free radicals. Hence, these seeds have a chemoprotective [drugs which protect healthy tissue from the toxic effects of anticancer drugs] nature.
Being a family of Brassica family it has good anti cancer property. Garden cress seeds contain antioxidants like vitamin A and E which help protect cells from damage by free radicals. Hence, these seeds have a chemo protective nature.
Few years back garden cress seeds/ halim/ aliv was not a common food item or a familiar to be heard. But as years passed it’s popularity and it’s importance have been realized and now people are aware of some of the facts of these seeds. Though these facts are also accompanied by some myths. So I chose to write and clear few myths and doubts of these seeds so that maximum people can make use of it in their lives and improve quality of their diet and nutrition.
Nutritive value of these seeds is very high. It is available in almost all parts of the world. Its high nutritive value and cheaper availability makes it possible for people of all the sections of society to include in the diet and increase nutritive value of their meals. Garden cress seeds are very high in Iron and Folic acid content. These seeds are use as herbal medicine to treat iron deficiency anemia. People consuming 2tsp/day have seen to have good increased levels of hemoglobin over a period of 1-2 months. Garden cress seeds also contains calcium, ascorbic acid, tocopherol, and beta-carotene which helps to improve body’s immunity.Garden Cress seeds are loaded with not just protein, but also linoleic and arachidic fatty acids. Since they contain phytochemicals that resemble estrogen to some extent, intake of these seeds helps to regulate menstruation and stimulate milk production in lactating mothers. That is why women are given foods containing Garden Cress following childbirth.
Traditionally garden cress seeds were considered to be useful only during last few weeks of gestation and post delivery. It is considered to be hot food. But the truth is that these seeds have ability too increase uterine contraction. So in later stages of pregnancy it helps in inducing labour but if in case consumed in early stage of pregnancy (1st trimester) it leads to spontaneous abortion. It is also very carefully prescribed to a hypothyroid patients because it belongs to cruciferous family and is a goitrogen that prevent iodine absorption.
How to eat:
1. Roasted slightly with added salt.
2. Soaked in water then added to milk or juice.
3. Chikki or laddoo can be made. (preparation similar to til laddoo/chikki).
How much to eat:
Start with 1 tsp/day and then an be taken 1 tsp/2c a day.
Cress seeds have many more medicinal properties and researches are still on to find its benefits on health. Garden cress should be eaten in moderation. Excess consumption of these seeds may hv adverse effect on health.
For other things
Garden cress seeds are memory boosters because they contain arachidic and linoleic acids. They help gaining lean body mass because they are a good source of iron and protein. Research has proved that 60 per cent women have hair loss due to low iron levels and poor protein. A teaspoon of garden cress seeds soaked in lime water helps in iron absorption, which in turn strengthens hair. The plant is also used in treating bleeding piles. The leaves are mildly stimulant and diuretic, useful in scorbutic [related to or resembling scurvy] diseases and liver complaints. A paste of the seeds with water is applied to chapped lips, and against sunburn.
It is an abortifacient [substance that induces abortion], if had in excess. It contains goitrogens that prevent iodine absorption in thyroids and hence can lead to hypothyroidism. If large quantities of garden cress are consumed, the mustard oil it contains may cause digestive difficulties in some people who are sensitive to it. Therefore, garden cress should be eaten in moderation.
Garden cress seeds, since ancient times, have been used in local traditional medicine of India. Garden cress seeds are bitter, thermogenic, depurative, rubefacient, galactogogue, tonic, aphrodisiac, ophthalmic, antiscorbutic, antihistaminic and diuretic. They are useful in the treatment ofasthma, coughs with expectoration, poultices for sprains, leprosy, skin disease, dysentery, diarrhoea, splenomegaly, dyspepsia, lumbago, leucorrhoea, scurvy and seminal weakness. Seeds have been shown to reduce the symptoms of asthma and improve lung function in asthmatics.The seeds have been reported as possessing a hypoglycemic property and the seed mucilage is used as a substitute for gum arabic and tragacanth.
Some use Lepidium sativum seeds for indigestion and constipation.
Prospects for improvement
Most of the genetic improvement work on garden cress is being carried out in the CIS, with little or no work being done at present in the countries of western Europe. Mainly early cultivars with a prolonged production period and better cold tolerance are being developed.
Cress can be grown and used like white mustard. It germinates more slowly at low temperatures, the emergence period being three or four days longer. Shortening this period is an interesting improvement objective.
However, cress’s recovery and its greater presence on markets mainly depends on a modification of cultivation and marketing techniques. In countries such as the United Kingdom, where this vegetable is normally to be found at the markets, cultivation takes place in greenhouses throughout the year. The whole succulent hypocotyls of the very young seedlings are eaten. The seed is placed on the soil surface on soft, level beds. It is finely sprinkled with water and then covered with sackcloth which has been steam-sterilized and moistened. The latter is frequently wetted to maintain moisture and is removed when the seedlings reach 4 to 5 cm in height (after approximately seven days in spring and autumn and ten days in winter). The yellowish leaves turn green after two to three days.
The cress is harvested when the first pair of cotyledon leaves have developed and it is marketed in small bags or trays, sometimes together with seedlings of white mustard.
Garden cress and white pepper are sometimes sown in the plastic trays or bags in which they will be sold, generally in peat with a nutrient solution.
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