Nasturtium is loved by all gardeners. From June to October, it amuses the aesthetic taste of connoisseurs of beauty and gives cooks the opportunity to diversify their dishes. The leaves, sprouts, buds and unripe fruits of the plant have a sweet-spicy taste, and in addition to nutritional value, they are endowed with many medicinal properties.
Description of the plant
Nasturtium (capuchin) is an annual or perennial herbaceous plant of the Nasturtium family, including more than 100 varieties and shades. The fleshy and highly branched stem reaches a length of up to 1 meter. Some varieties have the appearance of lianas with a stem length of up to 2 meters.
In June, single sweet-smelling bell flowers bloom, consisting of 5 petals and a long funnel-shaped tube with nectar. The predominant colors of flowers are orange, yellow, red. But there are also rare breeding shades: pale pink, velvety burgundy, purple and purple. The birthplace of the flower is considered to be South America, but it is cultivated in Europe and western Asia.
Medicinal raw materials are considered to be the entire terrestrial part of nasturtium (leaves, sprouts, buds and seeds), which contain:
- essential oil;
- vitamin C in high concentrations (up to 45%), B vitamins;
- antibiotics of plant origin;
- sulfur compounds;
- trace elements: iodine, potassium, phosphorus;
- mustard glycosides;
- coloring substances.
The caloric content of fresh seeds is 22 kcal, young leaves – 12 kcal per 100 g.
Useful properties of nasturtium
Nasturtium is an excellent healing remedy:
- The young leaves contain a truly lethal dose of vitamin C, 2 times the dose of this vitamin in a similar portion of black currant. Ascorbic acid participates in all regenerative and metabolic processes of the body, promotes the restoration of collagen fibers of the skin, fights free radicals, helps iron absorption, strengthens the immune system.
- Mustard glycosides help to improve digestion, contribute to the optimal maintenance of hormone balance, improve the function of the endocrine and nervous system.
- Rare bioactivators isoquercitrin and gluconasturcin increase the body’s resistance to infections, showing antibiotic activity.
- Flowers contain carotenoids, the concentration of which is higher than in the same portion of carrots. Carotenoids are known primarily as antioxidants. They protect the cells of the body from substandard degeneration. Obviously, they are also useful for the heart, as they reduce the likelihood of a heart attack. They are also considered an effective aid in the prevention of prostate diseases.
- Due to the content of sulfur and carotene, this flower is very useful for people of mature age, because these substances are a preventive remedy for sclerosis. Sulfur is in the hormone insulin and in the protein responsible for the good condition of nails and hair. It is also an integral part of the vitamin complex responsible for the preservation of nerve cells and proper energy metabolism.
The medicinal properties of nasturtium are manifested by the effect on the body:
- accelerating metabolism;
- blood purifying.
Application in folk medicine
Nasturtium is not included in the list of officially recognized medicinal herbs, but in various medicinal forms has long been used in herbal medicine.
For infusion from the leaves of the plant, you need to take a tablespoon of dried and crushed raw materials and pour a glass of boiling water. Let it brew until the broth can be drunk. Drain and take in three doses during the day for:
- vasodilation, especially in ischemic heart disease;
- treatment of diseases of the lymph nodes, pulmonary insufficiency;
- treatment of pneumonia, chronic and acute bronchitis;
- general strengthening of immunity during colds;
- treatment of scurvy and bleeding gums;
- treatment of constipation as a mild laxative;
- reducing feelings of anxiety, increased nervousness;
- reduction of unpleasant manifestations during menopause in women;
- fast falling asleep and deep sleep;
- treatment of acute pyelonephritis and cystitis;
- removal of gallstones from the gallbladder.
For alcohol tincture, you need to take 1.5 tablespoons of dried buds and pour a glass of vodka. Remove to a dark place and insist for 14 days, stirring occasionally. Accept:
- Externally, in case of hair loss, moisten cotton wool in tincture and rub it into the scalp (apply no more than 2 times a week to avoid burns).
- Inside with bronchitis, emphysema of the lungs for expectorant effect: dilute 20 drops of the remedy in a glass of water. With a painful cough, decoctions of forget-me-not grass are also prescribed.
- Inside, in case of loss of strength, flu and colds, as a tonic: dilute 20 drops of the remedy in a glass of water.
- Externally in the form of compresses for skin itching, scabies.
- To gargle with sore throat: dilute a few drops in half a glass of water.
- For douching with thrush: dilute half a teaspoon in 300 ml of herbal infusion of chamomile or marigolds.
- burns are treated with fresh juice from the leaves, warts and polyps are removed;
- decoction of leaves and flowers on whey is taken for anemia;
- fresh juice is taken orally to reduce joint pain in gout, rheumatism, for the treatment of anemia;
- sweetened honey decoction of flowers and leaves treat thrush and stomatitis in young children;
- mature fruits are used as a strong laxative.
Doctors have long known about the ability of nasturtium to reduce sexual activity in men, so it was added to the diet of soldiers during campaigns. This is worth remembering for men and their wives who are trying to diversify their diet with new products.
It should be remembered that taking medications based on medicinal herbs is not able to completely replace medical treatment. Infusions and decoctions based on nasturtium are beneficial only if they are prescribed by a doctor or an experienced phytotherapist, when, as with self-medication, even the most useful plant can harm the body.
If everything is clear with the useful properties of nasturtium, you need to remember about the contraindications to its use. The use of drugs from this plant can act irritatingly on the intestinal mucosa. Therefore, they can not be used for people with gastritis, ulcers, as well as those suffering from a tendency to frequent intestinal disorders, which are accompanied by loose stools.
When using the juice externally, it should be avoided getting into the eyes. The juice has a burning effect and can cause severe irritation of the mucous membrane and even temporary blurred vision.
It is not recommended to use plant preparations for pregnant women, children under 3 years of age and people prone to allergic reactions. In any case, a therapeutic or preventive appointment should be coordinated with a doctor.
Due to its antiseptic, antibacterial and regenerating properties, nasturtium is widely used in cosmetology:
- essential oils made from flowers are added to masks to get rid of acne and heal small wounds.
- the extract of leaves and buds is part of anti-aging cosmetics, and is also actively used in salons for whitening SPA treatments.
- dandruff is treated with fresh juice of shoots.
The entire ground part of nasturtium is edible:
- Fresh leaves are added to salads, vitamin cocktails, smoothies.
- Slightly unripe fruits resemble chickpeas in appearance, but taste like capers. Cooks pickle the fruits and add them to spicy spicy dishes and meat hodgepodge.
- The green fruits of the hostess are used as a seasoning when preserving cauliflower or Brussels sprouts, tomatoes, squash and zucchini.
- Dried flowers are ground into powder and added to dishes as a seasoning.
- Crushed fresh flowers and leaves are mixed with butter and get a spicy spread for sandwiches.
- An extract is made from the seeds to obtain edible oil similar to mustard.
- The unopened buds are pickled or fried fresh in oil and served as a side dish to poultry, rabbit, fish.
- Fresh or candied flowers decorate ready-made dishes and desserts.
How to collect and store a plant
You can collect and harvest raw materials all summer. For culinary purposes, fresh leaves, unopened buds and flowers are harvested during the summer at the very first moment of their flowering. The raw materials are perfectly amenable to drying and freezing. Stems and leaves are harvested for medicinal purposes. They can be cut, chopped a little and frozen or dried, like ordinary medicinal raw materials.