Nasturtium plant, a panacea

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As cây sen cạn (nasturtium) is rich in phosphoric acid, essential oils, sulfur and vitamin C, it is used during convalescence and prevents aging. It is also used to regulate menstruation and cure alopecia, or other forms of hair loss.

Cây sen cạn (nasturtium) helps cure a number of diseases like scurvy, cystitis, and bronchitis, traditional physician Dinh Cong Bay says.

Nasturtium, scientific name, Tropaeolum majus L., has a long stem from the middle of a round leaf on which flowers grow. Its leaves are light green on top and whitish on the bottom.

The flowers are yellow, orange, or red, with five unequal petals. Its fruit is about 1cm long with three seeds.

The plant originated in South America. In the 16th century, people described it for the first time and called it the "blood-colored flower of Peru." Today, it is also called American watercress or Mexican watercress.

In Vietnam, it is grown as an ornamental plant, vegetable, or herb, and can be found in gardens, along fences or hedges, and on balconies. It blooms between May and September.

Its leaves, flowers, and seeds are all used in traditional medicine, and can be picked from the tree year round. Usually the first buds, new flowers, and leaves are used while the trunk is left to grow again.

To get the seeds, people have to wait until they're ripe, pick them, and keep a small number for sowing again.

Since the 16th century, people have also used nasturtium as a vegetable. Its green leaves are eaten fresh, or made into soup along with potatoes.

The buds and green fruit are used to make pickles. Its flowers are eaten fresh as a vegetable and also used to decorate dishes to make them more colorful.

One hundred grams of nasturtium leaves contain 265mg of Vitamin C (which is higher than most other vegetables katuk has 185mg, amaranthus tricolor, 89mg, cauliflower, 70mg, and watercress, 40mg).

The cells in the leaves contain myrosin and glucotropaeolosid. It also yields a substance called tromalit which fights gram-negative and gram-positive bacteria while leaving helpful bacteria in the intestines unharmed.

This antibacterial matter is found in large quantities in the seeds.

Peruvians have long used the seeds of the nasturtium plant as a remedy for conditions like bronchitis and cystitis. The flowers also have large quantities of vitamin C (130mg in 100g).

The seeds of the nasturtium taste acrid and sour. But they have a cooling effect, can remove toxic substances, stanch bleeding, regulate menstruation, increase urine production, regulate bowel movement, and cure coughs and scurvy.

Take 15-30g of fresh leaves or 2-3g of seeds and boil them in water until two-thirds has evaporated.

Since nasturtium is rich in phosphoric acid, essential oils, sulfur and vitamin C, it is used during convalescence and prevents aging. It is also used to regulate menstruation and cure alopecia, or other forms of hair loss.

Following are some ways of using nasturtium to treat diseases:

- To treat coughs, chronic bronchitis, lung inflammation: crush 20-30g of nasturtium leaves or 2-3g of the seeds and put it in boiling water for 5 -10 minutes. Divide it into two or three portions and drink after meals. You can add some sugar or a fragrant substance to make it easier to drink.

- To treat cystitis, difficulty in urination: boil 20-30g of leaves in 500ml of water until 200ml is left. Divide it into two parts. Drink it 2-3 hours after meals. This water can be used as a mouthwash to strengthen the gums.

- To treat constipation, rectal bleeding: Crush 0.6-1g of dried ripe seeds or fruit, mix with sugar or honey and drink before going to bed. Crushed green nasturtium fruit, mix 1-3 teaspoonfuls of it with sugar (3-9 teaspoonfuls) and drink.

- To prevent alopecia, stimulate the scalp: Boil 100g of flowers or 100g of flowers, leaves, and green seeds in a liter of water in an earthen pot until about 300-400ml is left. Some fragrant essential oil can be added. Apply it to the hair and rub the scalp with it in the morning and afternoon or several times a day.

- To improve the lungs and kidneys or treat difficulty in urination: Boil 2-3g of buds or seeds in a liter of water until only 500ml is left. Add some fragrant substance. Divide it into two or three parts. Drink after meals. The same can be done with 20-30g of fresh leaves.

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