What Is Garden Cress?
Garden cress is a well-known herb in folklore remedies. Here we discuss the various Ayurvedic uses, benefits, dosage, side effects, and applications of garden cress.
This herb has been used medicinally since time immemorial even though well known classical Ayurvedic medical texts like the Charaka Samhita don’t mention it.
However, the herb eventually gained popularity through an Ayurvedic medical text called the Bhav Prakash where it had been mentioned for the first time in the context of Ayurveda.
Since Bhav Prakash, newer Ayurvedic medical literature has always mentioned garden cress along with its various benefits and uses.
Garden cress is also known by other names in different regions throughout the world. Some of its names include garden pepper cress, peppergrass, pepperwort or poor man’s pepper.
The botanical name of garden cress is Lepidium sativum. It belongs to family Cruciferae.
The leaves of this plant have been used for salads in different cuisines throughout the world. Garden cress leaves are also used for making curry in some cuisines.
Its leaves are also used for garnishing. This plant is even given as feed to horses and camels.
This plant is widely cultivated in various regions in India, Europe, and the United States.
Garden cress is known as chandrashura in Sanskrit. Chandrashura is a Sanskrit word. The literal meaning of this word is that which makes people happy by providing strength, immunity, and nutrition.
It also means that which can eradicate Vata dosha disorders. Its literal translation means that which is brave like the moon.1
Botanical Description Of Garden Cress
Lepidium sativum is a fast-growing, annual herb. It is an erect herb which can grow between 6 inches (15 cm) to 23 inches (approximately 60 cm) in height. This plant has many branches on its upper areas.
The leaves are entire or pinnately dissected. The leaves are variously lobed with linear segments.
The flowers are white or pale pink in color. Flowers have broad and elliptical or ovate pods which are emarginate at the apex and are winged.
Seeds are small, smooth, oval-shaped, pointed and triangular at one end. The seeds are reddish-brown in color.
Seeds when soaked in water, then seed coat swells and gets covered with a transparent and colorless mucilage.
Ayurvedic Properties Of Chandrashura 2
Rasa (taste): Katu (pungent) and tikta (bitter).
Vipaka (taste conversion after digestion): Katu
Virya (potency): Ushna (hot)
Guna (qualities): Laghu (light), rooksha (dry), and teekshna (sharp and piercing in nature).
Parts used: Seeds.3
The seeds of chandrashura or garden cress have snigdha (oily) and picchila (slimy qualities).
Effect of garden cress on three doshas 2
Chandrashura or garden cress is Vata dosha and Kapha dosha shamak due to its ushna (hot potency), which means that it pacifies excessive Vata dosha and Kapha dosha. This is why it is used in various Kapha and Vata related disorders.
Dosage: 1 to 3 grams of garden cress is used.3
Ayurvedic Formulations Containing Garden Cress (Chandrashura): Chatur beej churna.3 This is an Ayurvedic formulation made with powdered garden cress seeds.
Garden Cress Benefits And Uses 2,3
- The local application of garden cress paste is useful for pain relief in conditions like backache, sciatica, lumbar spondylolisthesis, and other similar conditions.
- Its paste also has antibacterial properties and is useful for a variety of skin problems.
- Besides its paste, it is also taken orally for painful conditions because of its analgesic properties.
- Garden cress is useful for gout.
- Garden cress is helpful in improving digestive strength, so used in managing problems like low digestive fire and improper digestion of food.
- Garden cress has carminative properties and it is useful for gas and bloating.
- Garden cress is useful for abdominal cramps and pains.
- Garden cress acts as a binding agent (like psyllium husk). That is why it is useful in diarrhea and dysentery.
- Garden cress has blood purifying properties.
- Garden cress is useful for hiccups.
- Garden cress is useful in removing excess mucus from the body. This is why it’s used for various respiratory issues in Ayurveda.
- Garden cress has diuretic properties. It is useful for dysuria.
- Garden cress acts as an aphrodisiac in men. It is given in various problems related to men like increasing quantity and quality of semen.
- Garden cress is helpful in women’s health disorders like amenorrhoea, irregular menstrual cycle, and painful menstruation.
- In women, garden cress is administered after delivery to avoid postnatal complications. It is supposed to provide strength and help in purifying the uterus after delivery.
- Garden cress has galactagogue properties. It promotes healthy lactation.
- Garden cress improves strength and immunity.
- In Vata dosha disorders (like neuralgia and paralysis), garden cress is used in a powder form or boiled in milk.
Chandrashura Chemical Composition
Lepidium sativum contains imidazole, lepidine, semilepidinoside A and B, β-carotenes, ascorbic acid, linoleic acid, oleic acid, palmitic acid, stearic acid, sinapic acid, and sinapin. 4
Garden cress is found to contain significant amounts of iron, calcium and folic acid, in addition to vitamins A and C.
Phytochemical study of Lepidium sativum showed the presence of flavonoids, coumarins, sulfur glycosides, triterpenes, sterols, and various imidazole alkaloids.
The major secondary compounds of this plant are glucosinolates. The alkaloids of Lepidium sativum are a member of the rare imidazole alkaloids that are known as lepidine. 5
The seeds of Lepidium sativum contains 33–54% of carbohydrates, 25% protein, 14–24% lipids and 8% crude fiber.
The major abundant amino acids of seeds are aspartic and glutamic acids. Potassium is the most abundant mineral in Lepidium sativum.
The seeds of garden cress seed also contain 20–25% yellowish semi-drying oil. The major fatty acid of oil is alpha-linolenic acid (34.0%).
The oil also comprises polyunsaturated fatty acids (46.8%) and monounsaturated fatty acids (37.6%) and antioxidants, such as tocopherols and carotenoids.
Seven imidazole alkaloids, lepidine B, C, D, E, and F (dimeric), and two new monomeric alkaloids semilepidinoside A and B are also present in seeds of Lepidium sativum. 6
Please consult a qualified Ayurvedic practitioner before using garden cress for its above-mentioned benefits.
- Aadrash Nighantu with Hindi translation, volume-1, page no. 84, by Shri Bapalal Vaidya, Chaukhmbha Bharti Academy,2016.
- Dravyaguna Vijnana by Aacharya Priyavrat Sharma, Volume 2, page no.499, Chaukhamba Bharati Academy, 2017.
- ^Same as Reference #2, Page: 500.
- Rehman, Najeeb-Ur et al. “Pharmacological Basis for the Medicinal Use of Lepidium sativum in Airways Disorders.” Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine: eCAM vol. 2012 (2012): 596524. DOI:10.1155/2012/596524 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3265128/
- Malar, Jency et al. “Antioxidative activity of different parts of the plant Lepidium sativum Linn.” Biotechnology reports (Amsterdam, Netherlands) vol. 3 95-98. 4 Jun. 2014, DOI:10.1016/j.btre.2014.05.006
- Al-Jenoobi, Fahad I et al. “Effect of Garden Cress Seeds Powder and Its Alcoholic Extract on the Metabolic Activity of CYP2D6 and CYP3A4.” Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM vol. 2014 (2014): 634592. DOI:10.1155/2014/634592