Masses of Nasturtiums (Tropaeolum majus) cover the banks of our local creeks at this time of year, their bright yellow, red and orange flowers cheer up walkers and gardeners alike.
Nasturtiums are commonly used in salads, both leaves and flowers where they add a peppery bite to the meal. The seed pods are picked and pickled as a substitute for capers.
Their bright flowers and round green leaves have other properties besides their taste that are beneficial to us at this time of year, with winter colds all around. It’s good for bronchial types of flu and ‘itis’. Taken at the onset of a cold, their vitamin C and mustard oil can stop a cold in its tracks. They are useful later too in clearing out congestion as the cold progresses.
Vitamin C and Mustard oil make Nasturtiums valuable allies as both internal and external antifungal and antibiotics, especially for minor cuts and scrapes. The juice from crushed seeds makes an excellent antifungal and the crushed leaves can help with the itchiness associated with many skin complaints.It contains a compound called Spilanthol which penetrates the skin easily.
I like to crush up a few leaves and press them against aching joints. The juice gets in and the oil helps increase local circulation. This increase in local circulation is the reason for Nasturtium’s other traditional use. Rubbing an extract of the leaves has been used for centuries as a cure for baldness. Of course, only some kinds of baldness will respond to it, nut it may be fun to see your bald friends walking around with Nasturtium leaves on their heads on your recommendation.
It is interesting that Nasturtiums have an affinity for the urinary tract and can be used for infections and inflammations in this area. It can also be suggested for yeast and fungal infections in that area.
The dry, ripe, buds have a laxative effect too.
So for something to warm you up and clean you out at the end of winter, Nasturtiums are the go