Found almost everywhere, peppergrass is a familiar plant that many consider an undesirable weed. Who would have thought a backyard ‘pest’ could potentially prevent cancer? And that is not the only disease deterred by peppergrass — it has broad spectrum healing qualities for a variety of ailments. Better yet, it’s free.
Peppergrass (Lepidium virginicum), also known as Virginia pepperweed and poor man’s pepper, can reach three feet high and has flowering stalks with jagged leaves. The plant also produces seed pods. The leaf, flower, pod and root are all edible, lending an intense spiced flavor that some compare with arugula. The leaves and flowers add an interesting accent to sauces, soups, salads and smoothies. Dried seed pods can be ground and used like black pepper whereas the root can be pulverized and mixed with vinegar as a substitute for horseradish. Recognizing such versatile value, ancient Incas cultivated peppergrass and Pliny wrote about it in 300 BCE.
Backyard botanical bounty
Steve ‘Wildman’ Brill loves to forage for food. Along with Medicine Hunter Chris Kilham, Brill set out to Central Park in New York City to locate peppergrass growing wild. Brill believes the plant blocks carcinogens and may help prevent cancer by protecting cells. As part of the mustard family, peppergrass shares many similar anticancer attributes. The sharp taste of mustard seed is due to isothiocyanates and thiocyanates — compounds that demonstrate antibacterial, antifungal and anticarcinogenic properties. The fiery tasting seed, leaf and root of peppergrass contain these same health enhancing substances. Peppergrass also helps to clear toxins from the body. According to Plants for a Future:
“The leaves of wild pepper-grass are nutritious and generally detoxifying, they have been used to treat vitamin C deficiency and diabetes, and to expel intestinal worms. The herb is also diuretic and of benefit in easing rheumatic pain. North American Indians used the bruised fresh plant, or tea made from the leaves to treat poison ivy rash and scurvy. A poultice of the leaves was applied to the chest in the treatment of croup.”
Instead of viewing peppergrass as an annoying weed, look with fresh eyes at an herb that has great potential to prevent and heal cancer, detoxify the body and enrich overall health. So forage away and enjoy all the merits this humble, economical and readily available plant offers.
Sources for this article include:
“Prevent Cancer with peppergrass” Chris Kilham, Fox News, January 2012. Retrieved on October 10, 2012 from:http://www.medicinehunter.com/prevent-cancer-poor-mans-pepper
“Free Food: Foraging, Longest Day of the Year Edition” Daily Kos. Retrieved on October 10, 2012 from: http://www.dailykos.com
“peppergrass: Potent Pipsqueak” Green Deane, Eat The Weeds. Retrieved on October 10, 2012 from: http://www.eattheweeds.com/peppergrass-potent-pipsqueak/
“Urban Forager: Wassup, O Wild Wasabi?” Ava Chin, The Local Fort Greene Clinton Hill, New York Times, October 7, 2009. Retrieved on October 10, 2012 from: http://fort-greene.thelocal.nytimes.com
“Medical Researchers Say Mustard Might Be a Cancer-Inhibitor” Roger M. Grace, Metropolitan News-Enterprise, March 24, 2005. Retrieved on October 10, 2012 from: http://www.metnews.com/articles/2005/reminiscing032405.htm
About the author:
Carolanne enthusiastically believes if we want to see change in the world, we need to be the change. As a nutritionist, natural foods chef and wellness coach, Carolanne has encouraged others to embrace a healthy lifestyle of organic living, gratefulness and joyful orientation for over 13 years. Through her website www.Thrive-Living.net she looks forward to connecting with other like-minded people from around the world who share a similar vision.
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