NASTURTIUM – Nasturtium is Garden Medicine
By Jeanne Rose 1980 – present
Introduction ~ The Nasturtium is in full flower in my yard at this time of year (July/August).
Common Name/Scientific Name & Family ~ The Latin name is Tropaeolum majus, and it is from the Family Tropaeolaceae, the Nasturtium. The name Tropaeolum is from the word trophy. Linnaeus named it from the Latin word, which was defined “as a sign of victory in war helmets from captured warriors who were once hung on posts.” The leaves of the plant climbing posts are compared to the shields and the flowers to the bloodstained helmets. The plant first arrived in Spain in 1569 thanks to Spanish botanist Nicolás Monardes, who wrote extensively about all the plants and animals he discovered during his trip to South America. The name Tropaeolum majus was given to the plant by Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus.
Other Names and background ~ The common name of Indian Cress from its pungent flavor of leaves is like name-related watercress (N. Officinale). These are two different plants from two very separate families.
General Description of Plant habitat and Growth ~ This plant is native to Peru, South America. It has big edible leaves, brilliant and edible flowers. It is an easy plant to grow and does best if not over-watered or over-fertilized. It will grow in full sun and part-shade and climbs up the nearest fence or plant. The flowers mature, fall off, and the seed pods form. These pods can be collected and immersed in vinegar and make a tasty substitute for capers.
Seeds and Leaves – The seeds yield a high percentage of a drying oil that can be used in making paints, varnish, etc. The growing plant attracts aphids away from other plants. Research indicates that aphids flying over plants with orange or yellow flowers do not stop, nor do they prey on plants growing next to or above the flowers. An insecticide can be made from an infusion of leaves and soap flakes.
Countries of Origin ~ Native to South America
Endangered – Not endangered
PORTION OF PLANT USED IN EXTRACTION – The entire plant can be used: leaves, flowers, seed pods. It is sometimes used as a flower essence remedy and in homeopathy and in various other forms of alternative therapy.
GENERAL PROPERTIES of Nasturtium
Physical Uses ~ Nasturtium has long been used in Andean herbal medicine as a disinfectant and wound-healing herb and an expectorant to relieve chest conditions.
All parts of the plant appear to be antibiotic; an infusion of the leaves can be drunk to increase resistance to bacterial infections and clear nasal and bronchial catarrh. The remedy seems to both reduce catarrh formation and stimulate the clearing and coughing up of phlegm.
The leaves are antibacterial, antifungal, antiseptic, aperient, depurative, diuretic, emmenagogue, expectorant, laxative, and stimulant.
Application and Skincare ~ Externally, it makes an effective antiseptic wash and is used to treat baldness, minor injuries, and skin eruptions. Any plant part can be used; it is harvested during the growing season and used fresh. …http://www.pfaf.org/database/
Emotional Use ~ A essence is made of flowers and used as a tonic for the lower body organs to energize and bring hope after a significant loss and life changes. This flower remedy was made in the Spring when it brings forth new life after the Winter season. Nasturtium brings hope after a significant loss, upheaval, or life change. The yellow, orange and red colors of the flowers relate to the three lower chakras. It also reflects the cleansing of the bright inner star that you are, removing the dross accumulating over many lifetimes, so you can shine more brightly. –FlowersforHealing.com
FLOWER REMEDY ~ AS a flower remedy or elixir, “Nasturtium is said to bring in more joy and spontaneity and to be used whenever life starts to feel dull or routine. Nasturtium helps us add more spice to life.” ‑ Lotuswei Nasturtium will enhance a feeling of contentment and happiness. It also helps you see where and how you are unique.
CULINARY OR INGESTION ~ All parts of the plant can be eaten. Nasturtium flowers contain mustard seed oil, so flowers and young fruits can be used for seasoning and pickling, leaves can be used for a peppery taste in salads. These green seeds can also be pickled in vinegar, flowers, and seeds can be mashed into sweet butter for a tasty spread. The flowers can be used as a wrap to roll around small canapes as an appetizer.
HERBAL ~ All parts of the plant appear to have antibiotic effects. Nasturtium has long been used in Andean herbal medicine as a disinfectant and wound-healing herb and an expectorant to relieve chest conditions.
The flowers are used in bath herbs mixtures as a colorful astringent, in hair rinses for dark blonde to red hair; the leaves and flowers can be used in bath herbs or teas and salads for a tasty ‘bite.’ I also like to collect and dry the flowers to add color to a potpourri. Hummingbirds sip from the flowers.
An infusion of the leaves can increase resistance to bacterial infections and clear nasal and bronchial catarrh. This remedy seems to both reduce catarrh formation and stimulate the clearing and coughing up of phlegm.
The seeds yield a high percentage of a drying oil that can be used in making paints, varnish, etc. And Nasturtium can be used as a trap crop for aphids.
HYDROSOL ~ I have never had a hydrosol of Nasturtium flower or leaves and wonder what it might be like. I think the best use of Nasturtiums is as a garden and culinary plant.
Key Use ~ As a food.
Chemistry and Components ~ A glycoside found in the plant reacts with water to produce an antibiotic. The plant has antibiotic properties towards aerobic spore-forming bacteria. Extracts from the plant have anticancer activity. The plant is taken internally to treat genito-urinary diseases, respiratory infections, scurvy, and poor skin and hair conditions.
INTERESTING/SCIENCE/HISTORICAL ~ Nasturtium is symbolic of patriotism. … The round leaves reminded Linnaeus of the shields of warriors and the flowers of their blood-stained helmets, hence the symbolism of patriotism.
See FlowersforHealing.com for more flower essence information
Rose, Jeanne. The Herbal Body Book. www.jeannerose.net/books.html
This is an interesting article. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/biochemistry-genetics-and-molecular-biology/nasturtium
Moderation in All Things.
Be moderate in your use of essential oils, as they are just not sustainable for the environment.
Be selective and more moderate in your usage.
Use the herb first as tea or the infusion. —JeanneRose 2014
DISCLAIMER: This work is intended for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for accurate diagnosis and treatment by a qualified health care professional. Dosages are often not given, as that is a matter between you and your health care provider. The author is neither a chemist nor a medical doctor. The content herein is the product of research and personal and practical experience. Institute of Aromatic & Herbal Studies – Jeanne Rose©