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The healing power of garden cress

  1. Originally, garden cress grows wild in the Mediterranean area, especially North Africa and the Middle East, or in other words: West Asia. Today this culinary medicinal plant is found wild all over Europe. Most likely, the Roman soldiers took cress to the northern regions of Europe. A fully grown cress plant can reach a height of 50 centimeters and does not look at all like the seedlings from the supermarket. It blooms from May to July with white flowers. Cress is especially of medicinal value for coughing, constipation and it can serve to purify the blood. In addition, cress seeds have traditionally been an Ayurvedic medicine.


  1. Naming History Traditional medicine Cress seeds in India Recent scientific research Ingredients garden cress Vitamins of cress Minerals in cress Growing cress Cress eating tips


  1. The Latin name of garden cress is Lepidium sativum. In Dutch we know some alternative names: bitter cherry, court cherry, sandwich herb, kroezekers, stone cherry, cressonette, strong cherry and star cherry. The name cherry is related to the name ´eruca´, from which the English word cress and the German word Kresse come from. Eruca, the common name for cabbage varieties, has been corrupted in the European language to cherry and kresse. In old High German, 'cresso', a word which is also related to eruca, means 'sharp'. That became corrupted in Dutch to 'cherry', which is why we use this name.


  1. In ancient Egypt, cress was eaten as a salad leaf at least 200 BC. Dioscorides, the pioneer of medicine and herbal science whose roots were in ancient Greece while working for the ancient Romans, described the cooking of cress.

Traditional healing method

  1. In European herbal medicine, garden cress gained fame as a medicine for anemia, bladder disorders and loss of appetite. It is also seen as a blood purifier and can combat coughing. It is also a laxative which can thus be used in constipation.

Cress seeds in India

  1. Cress seeds, called chandrashoor in India, have been used since ancient times in Ayurveda, the traditional medicine of India. There are a whole range of uses for cress seed. First of all, it can prevent postnatal complications. Cress seeds are bitter, warming, purifying, rubefacient (reddening the skin), galactogogue, tonic, aphrodisiac, good for the eyes, antihistamine and a natural diuretic. They are used in India in the treatment of asthma, cough with phlegm, compresses for sprains, leprosy, skin disease, dysentery, arthritis, diarrhea, splenomegaly (enlarged spleen), dyspepsia and lumbago (low back pain). The seeds have been shown to improve asthma symptoms. Lung function in general is improved by cress seeds. The seeds have also been reported to have a positive effect on blood sugar levels. This happened in a Moroccan scientific study from 2005, among other things.

Recent scientific research

  1. Scientific research shows some of the medicinal effects of folk medicine. In any case, it is a fact that cress and cress seeds have an anti-inflammatory effect. Cress seeds have an even stronger effect. Below are a few recent studies:

Ingredients garden cress

  1. The entire above-ground growing plant of garden cress is used. It contains the following medicinally active ingredients: essential oils such as benzyl cyanide, mustard glycosides such as glucotropaeoline and benzyl isothiocyanate, the vitamins carotene, B11, C, E and nicotinamic acid and the minerals potassium, iron, calcium and sodium.

Vitamins garden cress

  1. The percentages for vitamins in garden cress are particularly high. For example, 100 grams of garden cress contains a total of 516% of the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of vitamin K. Vitamin C is there with 83% of the RDA and vitamin A with 43%. It can be added that there are also other carotenoids in garden cress. Carotenoids are converted in the body into vitamin A. Cress also contains about 38% of the RDA of the carotenoid lutein and even zeaxanthin. In total, eating cress exceeds 100% of the RDI for vitamin A levels. Other vitamins are also included with decent percentages: B2: 22% RDA, B11: 20% RDA, B6: 19% RDA, B1 and B3: 7% RDA and vitamins E and B5: 5% RDA.

Minerals in garden cress

  1. The percentages for minerals are a lot lower but still very noteworthy. It contains the most manganese: 26% of the RDI. For potassium, there is 13% of the RDI in cress. Magnesium and phosphorus are both represented with 11% of the RDI. Iron has a 10% RDA of 10% and calcium tops the list at 8% RDA.

Growing garden cress

  1. Cress is grown as a forward herb with salad, vegetables and bread. You can sow it in the vegetable garden from March, after which it will emerge very quickly. It can be harvested within a few weeks. If you grow it indoors on the windowsill, it can be harvested after 10 to 14 days. Gardeners grow cress under glass because it grows faster then. In principle, garden cress does not need fertilizer; it grows well on water alone. But it doesn't hurt to add a teaspoon of sole or Celtic sea salt solution to the water; then it has some more minerals at its disposal.

Tips for eating garden cress

  1. The taste of cress is somewhere in the middle between a mild form of mustard and radish, of which cress is both related. Before the Second World War, only chopped cress with brown sugar and lemon juice was put on bread. Even now, cress is sometimes added to a biscuit with butter and lemon juice. You can also make cress butter, it is a tasty soup herb and you can make a sandwich with peanut butter, tahini or sunflower paste more flavorful with this seedling. It is also a good idea to sprinkle cress over an already baked omelet. In Germany, cress is mixed with the quark. It is perfectly possible to mix chopped cress with homemade mayonnaise.

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