By: Rogia al-Shafee
KHARTOUM (Sudanow) - Fatma Mohamed Alhassan, an elderly woman from Khartoum North, once felt sharp pain in her joints and in the lower section of her back that kept her in bed for over a year.
She sought medical treatment both inside Sudan and abroad but her case could not improve until one of her female friends advised her to try cress seeds on an empty stomach early in the morning. The dose prescribed was a daily small spoonful with a glass of water. And she did. The result was spectacular.
After a period less than a month she gradually started to move about inside her home. Now she has regained her full health. She walks to the marketplace for her shopping, cooks food for her family and runs the family affairs as usual.
Cress (Lepidium sativum), sometimes referred to as garden cress (or curly cress) to distinguish it from similar plants and also referred to as cress (from old Germanic cresso which means sharp spicy), is a rather fast-growing, edible herb.
Garden cress is genetically related to watercress and mustard, sharing their peppery, tangy flavor and aroma. In some regions, garden cress is known as mustard and cress, garden pepper cress, pepperwort, pepper grass, or poor man's pepper.
This annual plant can reach a height of 60 cm (24 in), with many branches on the upper part. The white to pinkish flowers are only 2 mm (1⁄12 in) across, clustered in small branched racemes.
When consumed raw, cress is a high-nutrient food containing a substantial content of vitamins A, C and K and several dietary minerals.
The healing property of cress has been known for Sudanese women for a long time. The herb is always present in the Sudanese kitchen as food and as medicine.
It is also used as a water cooler when placed on drinking water pots from the outside. Here the pot is covered with wetted cotton cloth and atop of this cloth the cress is spread. Very soon the cress would germinate and grow into green grass. The pot below gets a lovely humid shade from this grass that cools the water inside.
Cress is grown in many parts of Sudan in a way that suffices local consumption.
Medical and aromatic plants specialist Dr. Ehsan Mohamed Alhadi is telling Sudanow that the sticky substance in cress helps compensate for the natural sticky substance in the human joints which is lost due to arthritis and osteoarthritis.
Cress seeds are also highly rich in iodine that boosts the thyroid gland responsible for biological operations in the body and for energy, activity and vigor, said Dr. Ehsan.
Cress also contains iron that boosts the blood, sulfur that benefits the skin and calcium that benefits bones and teeth.
In addition, cress contains a big amount of vitamin C that invigorates the body and guards against colds for its content of antibiotics.
Cress leaves are used as a mild refresher and as a diuretic. They are also used in cases of bronchitis and as a phlegm driver.
Cress also helps to stop bleeding and beefs the secretion of saliva and gastric juice.
Cress is also proved as an appetizer and as a digestion stimulator. It is for this last characteristic that cress is added to food, salads in particular, for its nice smell and its ability to absorb nasty smells from the body. This latter piece of information is helpful for persons who complain from foul mouth and foul sweat.
Boiled cress seeds are used in the treatment of dysentery, diarrhea, spleen inflammation and some skin diseases.
Cress also helps prevent hair fall. Cress cataplasms are used to cure sores, sciatica and Vitiligo. It also helps prevent hair fall.
Cress smoke is a good pest repellent.
In the tradition of The Prophet Mohamed we read: seek healing in the two sour plants: aloe and cress.
Dr. Ehsan asserts that Sudan’s weather is quite suitable for the growing of cress in commercial quantities to support medicine industry.
Growing of cress is very simple. All one needs is clay soil and moderate weather. It is grown along the River Nile bank in the Northern State and can be grown widely elsewhere in the country.
It can also simply be grown inside homes, on the window or on the balcony. All what is needed is a small container, clay soil and cress seeds. Cress is a fast growing plant and can grow in just three days. It yields seeds in three to four weeks when it can be harvested.
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