Garden cress (Lepidium sativum)

While some complementary and alternative techniques have been studied scientifically, high-quality data regarding safety, effectiveness, and mechanism of action are limited or controversial for most therapies. Whenever possible, it is recommended that practitioners be licensed by a recognized professional organization that adheres to clearly published standards. In addition, before starting a new technique or engaging a practitioner, it is recommended that patients speak with their primary healthcare provider(s). Potential benefits, risks (including financial costs), and alternatives should be carefully considered. The below monograph is designed to provide historical background and an overview of clinically-oriented research, and neither advocates for or against the use of a particular therapy.

Related Terms

  • Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), agrião (Portuguese), agrião-mouro (Portuguese, Galician), beatzecrexu (Basque), berro de jardín (Spanish), berro de tierra (Spanish), berro hortense (Spanish), benzyl isothiocyanate (BITC), Brassicaceae (family), bran, buminka (Basque), common cress, cress, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), escobilla (Spanish), endosperm, fiber, garden cress seed oil (GCO), garden pepper grass, glucosinolates, glutamic acid, herba do esforzo (Portuguese, Galician), hurf (Arabic), indoles, isothiocyanates, kardamon (Greek), land cress, linoleic acid (LA), lectin, lepidio (Spanish), Lepidium sativium, Lepidium sativum, leucine, mastruco (Portuguese, Galician), mastruco do sul (Portuguese), mastuerzo (Spanish), mastuerzo hortense (Spanish), methanol, morrisá (Catalan), morritort (Catalan), nasturtium (Latin), nasum torcere (Latin), omega-3 fatty acid, pepper cress, pepper grass, pepperwort, sulforaphane, tuffa’ (Arabic), turehtezuk (Persian), water cress, whole meal.

  • Combination product example: SulforaWhite (a liposomal preparation that contains Lepidium sativum sprout extract, glycerin, lecithin, phenoxyethanol, and water).

Background

  • Garden cress (Lepidium sativum) has been consumed in salads and sandwiches since ancient times. Western Asian, Mediterranean, and Indian cultures have used the seeds of garden cress to cause laxative effects, induce labor, or relieve pain. The roots have been used treat syphilis and tenesmus (urge to evacuate the stools). The leaves have been used as an antibacterial agent, a diuretic (increases urination), and a stimulant, as well as to treat liver disorders and scurvy (disease from vitamin C deficiency).

  • At this time, there is a lack of evidence supporting the efficacy of garden cress for any condition. However, various traditional uses exist.

  • Limited reports state that garden cress is useful for treating several illnesses, including colic, “viscous humors,” and leprosy. Garden cress may relieve the body’s allergic responses to insect bites. It has also been used as a fumigant (pest control substance), an anthelmintic (to eliminate parasitic worms), and an aphrodisiac. Also, garden cress may be useful in preventing hair loss and “renal cooling,” and stimulating the appetite.

  • According to Ayurvedic medicine, garden cress displays the following properties: hot, bitter, tonic, and aphrodisiac. It is also useful in the treatment of dysentery, pain in the abdomen, blood and skin disorders, injuries, tumors, and eye diseases. Garden cress may stimulate the production of breast milk and prevent postnatal complications.

  • The traditional medicines of Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries use the garden cress plant and seeds for healing bone fractures, although there is little evidence to support the effectiveness of this use.

Scientific Evidence

Uses

These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.

No available studies qualify for inclusion in the evidence table.

*Key to grades:

Tradition

The below uses are based on tradition or scientific theories. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious and should be evaluated by a qualified health care professional.

  • Abortifacient (abortion inducer), animal bites, antibacterial, antihistamine, aphrodisiac, appetite stimulant, ascaridiasis (worms in the gut or liver), bile secretion problems, blood disorders, colic, diuretic, dysentery, eye diseases, fracture healing (general), galactagogue (lactation stimulant), hair loss, hepatic (liver) disorders, insect repellent, kidney dysfunction (renal cooling), laxative, leprosy, liver dysfunction, pain (abdominal), pregnancy-related complications, scurvy, skin disorders, stimulant, syphilis (secondary), tenesmus (rectal complaints), tick repellent, tonic, tumors, wound care (poultice).

Dosing

The below doses are based on scientific research, publications, traditional use, or expert opinion. Many herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested, and safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients, even within the same brand. The below doses may not apply to all products. You should read product labels, and discuss doses with a qualified healthcare provider before starting therapy.

Adults (18 years and older)

  • There is no proven safe or effective dose for garden cress in adults.

Children (under 18 years old)

  • There is no proven safe or effective dose for garden cress in children.

Safety

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.

Allergies

  • Avoid in people with a known allergy or sensitivity to garden cress (Lepidium sativum), its parts, or members of the Brassicaceae family.

Side Effects and Warnings

  • Although it has not been well studied in humans, garden cress may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised in people with diabetes or hypoglycemia, and in those taking drugs, herbs, or supplements that affect blood sugar. Blood glucose levels may need to be monitored by a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist. Medication adjustments may be necessary.

  • Although it has not been well studied in humans, garden cress may cause low blood pressure. Caution is advised in people taking drugs, herbs, or supplements that lower blood pressure.

  • Use cautiously in people taking diuretics (water pills), those with electrolyte imbalances, and those taking potassium-depleting agents. Although it has not been well studied in humans, garden cress may increase the elimination of chloride, potassium, and sodium in the urine.

  • Avoid in people with a known allergy or sensitivity to garden cress (Lepidium sativum), its parts, or members of the Brassicaceae family.

  • Avoid the use of garden cress during pregnancy, as limited studies suggest that garden cress seeds may cause spontaneous abortions.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

  • There is currently a lack of scientific evidence on the use of garden cress during pregnancy or lactation.

  • Avoid the use of garden cress during pregnancy, as limited studies suggest that garden cress seeds may cause spontaneous abortions.

Interactions

Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.

Interactions with Drugs

  • Although it has not been well studied in humans, garden cress may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised when using medications that may also lower blood sugar. People taking insulin or drugs for diabetes by mouth should be monitored closely by a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist. Medication adjustments may be necessary.

  • Although it has not been well studied in humans, garden cress may cause low blood pressure. Caution is advised in people taking drugs that lower blood pressure.

  • Garden cress may also interact with antibiotics, anticancer agents, cholesterol-lowering agents, diuretics, potassium-depleting agents, and potassium or sodium salts.

Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements

  • Although it has not been well studied in humans, garden cress may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised when using herbs or supplements that may also lower blood sugar. Blood glucose levels may require monitoring, and doses may need adjustment.

  • Although it has not been well studied in humans, garden cress may cause low blood pressure. Caution is advised in people taking drugs that lower blood pressure.

  • Garden cress may also interact with antibacterial herbs or supplements, anticancer herbs or supplements, antioxidants, chloride, cholesterol-lowering herbs or supplements, diuretics, essential fatty acids, fiber supplements, omega-3 rich foods, potassium, potassium-depleting herbs or supplements, and sodium.

Author Information

  • This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).

References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

  1. Czimber G. Therapeutic effect and production of garden cress (Lepidium sativum L.). Gyogyszereszet (Hungary) 1988;32:79-81.
  2. Diwakar BT, Dutta PK, Lokesh BR, and Naidu KA. Bio-availability and metabolism of n-3 fatty acid rich garden cress (Lepidium sativum) seed oil in albino rats. Prostaglandins Leukot.Essent.Fatty Acids 2008;78(2):123-130. View Abstract
  3. Eddouks M, Maghrani M. Effect of Lepidium sativum L. on renal glucose reabsorption and urinary TGF-beta 1 levels in diabetic rats. Phytother.Res 2008;22(1):1-5. View Abstract
  4. Gokavi SS, Malleshi NG, and Guo M. Chemical composition of garden cress (Lepidium sativum) seeds and its fractions and use of bran as a functional ingredient. Plant Foods Hum Nutr 2004;59(3):105-111. View Abstract
  5. Juma AH. The effects of Lepidium sativum seeds on fracture-induced healing in rabbits. MedGenMed. 2007;9(2):23. View Abstract
  6. Kassie F, Rabot S, Uhl M, Huber W, Qin HM, Helma C, Schulte-Hermann R, and Knasmuller S. Chemoprotective effects of garden cress (Lepidium sativum) and its constituents towards 2-amino-3-methyl-imidazo[4,5-f]quinoline (IQ)-induced genotoxic effects and colonic preneoplastic lesions. Carcinogenesis 2002;23(7):1155-1161. View Abstract
  7. Lhoste EF, Gloux K, De Waziers I, Garrido S, Lory S, Philippe C, Rabot S, and Knasmuller S. The activities of several detoxication enzymes are differentially induced by juices of garden cress, water cress and mustard in human HepG2 cells. Chem Biol Interact. 12-7-2004;150(3):211-219. View Abstract
  8. Maghrani M, Zeggwagh NA, Michel JB, and Eddouks M. Antihypertensive effect of <it>Lepidium sativum</it> L. in spontaneously hypertensive rats. Journal of Ethnopharmacology (Ireland) 2005;100:193-197.
  9. Maleki A, Zarasvand MA. Heavy metals in selected edible vegetables and estimation of their daily intake in Sanandaj, Iran. Southeast Asian J Trop.Med Public Health 2008;39(2):335-340. View Abstract
  10. Regassa A. The use of herbal preparations for tick control in western Ethiopia. J S Afr Vet.Assoc 2000;71(4):240-243. View Abstract
  11. Robinson B, Duwig C, Bolan N, Kannathasan M, and Saravanan A. Uptake of arsenic by New Zealand watercress (Lepidium sativum). Sci Total Environ 1-1-2003;301(1-3):67-73. View Abstract
  12. Smolinska B, Cedzynska K. EDTA and urease effects on Hg accumulation by Lepidium sativum. Chemosphere 2007;69(9):1388-1395. View Abstract
  13. Spera G, Cardone F, Cherubini G, and Leandri A. Natural specific radioactivity in different soils. Transfer in the soil plant food chain. Commun Agric Appl.Biol Sci 2003;68(4 Pt B):817-826. View Abstract
  14. Steinkellner H, Rabot S, Freywald C, Nobis E, Scharf G, Chabicovsky M, Knasmuller S, and Kassie F. Effects of cruciferous vegetables and their constituents on drug metabolizing enzymes involved in the bioactivation of DNA-reactive dietary carcinogens. Mutat.Res 9-1-2001;480-481:285-297. View Abstract
  15. Wright CI, Van-Buren L, Kroner CI, and Koning MM. Herbal medicines as diuretics: a review of the scientific evidence. J Ethnopharmacol. 10-8-2007;114(1):1-31. View Abstract

The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.