An introduction to the medicinal benefits of nasturtium and couch grass
Continuing on from last week, its now on to the well known and not always loved, nasturtium and couch grass.
Nasturtium – Known botanically as Tropaeolum majus , nasturtium have beautifully bright coloured flowers and once established, will grow just about anywhere. The flowers and leaves can be included in salads, stuffed like zucchinin flowers or chopped up into stirfrys. The seeds and young buds can be pickled and used as a replacement for capers.
Those who have eaten Nasturtium leaves or flowers will know that they have an intense fiery bite. It is this characteristic that also gives this plant its major medicinal actions. Nasturtium leaves can be used on wounds to help fight infection being a strong antiseptic. The seeds can be ground to a paste and painted onto fungal infections of the toe nails. The pungent vapours released when eating nasturtium are also wonderful for bronchitis and other infections of the lungs. Nasturtium flowers and leaves are particularly high in vitamin C, in the past theses were given to help cure scurvy.
Note: Please use nasturtium leaves on the skin with caution, the pungent nature of the leaves can cause irritation and burns if left for a prolonged time.
Couch Grass – “What?” Many of you may say. “I spend hours pulling this pesky grass from the garden. What good could it be to anyone!” Elymus repens, a running grass, is in fact a wonderful medicinal plant. Used since ancient Greece, the rhizome of this grass contains both soothing, diuretic and anti-microbial qualities. These characterisitics make it a fantastic remedy for urinary tract infections, both helping to soothe and protect the urinary tract while encouraging the infection to please politely leave! These qualities can also be beneficial for sore throats, coating and soothing inflamed tonsils and mucous membranes.
In next weeks article, Rosemary and Shepherds Purse….
Please as always, before using any of these plants, be sure that they have been identified correctly. If in doubt, don’t! Avoid harvesting herbs from roadsides or areas where sprays or other toxic substances may have been used. If you are experiencing a serious health condition, please visit your health professional.
Article by Damian Harrison, Naturopath from Chamomile Naturopathy , Bellingen.