One Of The Oldest Known Leaf Vegetables Consumed By Humans


As summer rolls in, it’s the perfect time to enjoy the benefits of seasonal foods.

Take watercress, for example. This superfood even has its own website:

Known as a spring-cleaning herb, watercress is great for revitalizing your whole system.

The Basics

Watercress is part of the cruciferous vegetable family, which includes radishes, broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale, arugula, turnips, mustard, and nasturtiums.

Despite Brussels sprouts holding the title of Britain’s most disliked vegetable (a sentiment often carried from childhood into adulthood), this group of plants is celebrated for its health and healing properties. All these vegetables contain natural phytochemicals with recognised anti-cancer benefits.

Watercress, in particular, stands out for its high concentration of antioxidants. Additionally, the mustard oil in its leaves and stems boasts anti-inflammatory properties. And, Watercress is very low in oxalates. In contrast, other members of this family are very high in it.

The Technical Bits

Watercress Constituents: vitamin A (from beta-carotene) and vitamin C, and is a source of folate, calcium, iron and vitamin E. It also contains useful amounts of vitamin K, thiamin, vitamin B6, potassium and iodine and is naturally low in sodium. Due to its high water content (93%) it is low in calories.

Vitamins: A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B17, C, D, E, K 

Minerals: calcium, phosphorus, potassium, iron, sodium, magnesium, copper, manganese, fluorine, sulphur, chlorine, iodine, germanium, silica, zinc. Its leaves are used to purify the blood.

Actions: antibiotic, antibacterial, diuretic, expectorant, stimulant, digestive, stomachic, antiscorbutic, antiseptic, antioxidant, tonic

Alkalinity:  pH 8.1 making it valuable in our daily diet to offset acidity caused by overall consumption of too many acid foods, processed foods, stresses and pollutants in the environment. The properties of watercress help dissolve fatigue-causing fibrin, coagulated in the blood vessels.

Watercress Over The Years

  • Pliny the Elder (23-79 AD): This Roman author listed over 40 medicinal uses for watercress. He even believed that the smell of watercress could drive away snakes and neutralise scorpion venom!
  • Ancient Persia: Persians fed watercress to their children to increase strength and stature.
  • Early Romans: Revered watercress for its health benefits, especially as a cure for baldness and as a resource for making bold decisions.
  • The Greeks: Considered watercress valuable brain food and believed it strengthened the nervous system.
  • King Xerxes of Persia: Fed watercress to his soldiers to maintain their strength and stamina.
  • Ancient Saying: The phrase “to eat cress” was directed at those whose wits were believed to have deserted them!

Modern research has shown that a daily intake of watercress can help the body expel one of the four major cancer-causing agents found in tobacco smoke. This is the first time a vegetable has been found to have a beneficial effect on a lung carcinogen in humans.

Scientists are now working to condense the key anticancer ingredient in watercress into a pill. According to Monash Medical Centre’s leading research nutritionist, watercress is one of several foods, along with green tea and fermented soy products, that can interrupt pathways leading to lung, breast, and bowel cancer.

Laetrile (B 17)

B17, also known as laetrile, was discovered by German chemist Leibig in 1830 and further researched by Dr. Ernst Krebs and others. Their studies suggested that B17 could stimulate hemoglobin, strengthen the immune system, and act as a pain reliever for terminal cancer patients due to the release of benzoic acid, a natural analgesic.

The research indicated that the organic cyanide and benzaldehyde released from the laetrile molecule could destroy cancer cells without harming healthy cells. Dr. F. Krebs even injected himself with pure laetrile to demonstrate its safety, suffering no ill effects.

Despite these findings, B17 was banned by the US Government in 1979 and remains so for ‘”safety” reasons. The FDA warned that hospitals using laetrile risked losing government grants, Medicaid, and other medical insurance funding. Doctors recommending laetrile had to submit patient forms to the FDA, a move that discouraged many from prescribing it.

Interestingly, watercress contains approximately 98 mg of vitamin B17 per 100 grams of leaves. This makes it a valuable addition to your diet.

What have the guardians of our health done with all this jaw-dropping information?  

They’ve called it quackery.

What to do next:

Visit the website for more information and recipes, starting with watercress soup.

Dr. Elmar Jung
Dr. Elmar Jung
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