Cabbage has more healing properties than it does uses in recipes! (Well, maybe not, but read on…)
PS. This all came about because one of our CSA members mentioned her mother wraps raw cabbage leaves on her arthritic knees over night to reliever the pain. Thanks for the tip!
by Dr. John R. Christopher
Rembert Dodens, Dutch physician to the Emperors Maximilian II and Rudolph, wrote in 1557 in his ‘History of Plants’:
“The juice of the cabbage softens the belly and makes one go to stool. It cleans and cures old ulcers. Cabbage juice mixed with honey makes a syrup that heals hoarseness and coughing. The leaves, when cooked and applied to chronic ulcers, modify and heal them, and aid the resolution of tumors and wounds.”
Doctors Merat and Lens of the Faculty of Medicine of Paris wrote in 1829 (Universal Dictionary of Materia Medica): “The cabbage is one of the most valuable acquisitions of man. It combats scurvy, it prevents gout, the tender leaves are applied to wounds, and seeds are indicated for worms.”
A Doctor Roques of the eighteen hundreds protected himself and his family for many years against the epidemic winter diseases by eating a daily salad of cooked cabbage. He recommended the following treatment for cold and laryngitis; One pound of strained red cabbage juice, 3 grams of saffron, 1/2 pound of honey and sugar, the whole boiled to a syrup; 1 tablespoonful is taken in a cup of tea 3 or 4 times daily.
A Doctor Blanc wrote: “Cabbage is the bread and butter of therapeutics. It is the doctor of the poor – the providential physician. Let the incredulous experiment, nothing is simpler (than cabbage); the application is external and easy, the action is prompt and innocuous. One can see it with the naked eye. The virtues of this plant are numerous, and I defy anyone to present a good reason why cabbage should not be used therapeutically.”
The preparation of cabbage for various disorders is as follows: Wash the leaves or soak them for a few minutes in water to which lemon juice has been added. Wipe dry, then use a knife or scissors to remove the central rib and, if the application is planned for an ulcer or sensitive wound, the secondary ribs. Crush the leaves, one by one – with a rolling pin or bottle. The juice appears at the surface of the leaves, ready for application. One, two, or three applications will be required according to the severity of the disease. Cover with a thick cloth and continue the application for several hours, generally overnight, or during the day if pain prevents sleep.
For a very sensitive wound, plunge the leaves for one or two seconds into boiling water, softening them, and reducing the possibility of irritation,
If cabbage leaves are applied to ulcers with swollen irritated margins, soak the leaves first for one-half hour in olive oil. The resulting preparation will soothe inflamed tissues as well as combating infection and aiding healing.
Cabbage leaves applied to an infected wound, ulcer, or oozing eczema should be layered like roof shingles, allowing secretions to drain between the layers. When treating lumbago, joint pain, or various afflictions of the nerve or bladder, poultices of cabbage leaves bring rapid relief. A poultice is prepared as follows: Boil for 20 minutes 2 to 4 cabbage leaves and two whole chopped onions with 3 or 4 handfuls of bran and a little water. After evaporation of the water, place the poultice on gauze and apply hot for one or two hours, or even for the whole night. (Never apply heat to a painful abdomen. Only the physician can properly diagnose the cause of abdominal pain, and the application of heat to appendicitis or infection of the ovary may be harmful.)
Doctor Garnett-Cheney, Professor at the Medical School of Stanford, published a report concerning the use of cabbage juice in the treatment of gastric ulcers. Of 65 cases reported in his series, 62 were cured at the end of three weeks. Cabbage has been recommended to correct anemia of experimental animals induced by an all-milk diet.
In research at the University of Texas. Dr. W. Shive extracted from cabbage a substance he calls Glutamine, useful in the treatment of alcoholism and peptic ulcer.
Cabbage has been found to be of infinite value for pregnant women, and for patients with anemia, fatigue, infections, intestinal parasites, stones, and arthritis.
We list now some of the afflictions for which the cabbage has been used over the centuries to bring relief:
Acne: Apply a lotion of freshly prepared cabbage juice preceded, if desired, by the application of leaves. The eating of cabbage leaves or juice is also helpful.
Alcoholism: Eat cabbage, steamed or raw and drink the juice.
Anemia: Drink one or two glasses of cabbage juice daily.
Burns: Apply mashed cabbage leaves to the burn area to relieve pain and speed healing.
Cirrhosis of the liver: Drink cabbage juice and eat raw or steamed cabbage.
Colitis: Apply 3 or 4 layers of cabbage leaves over the abdomen each evening and secure in place to be left on overnight. Drink also the juice between meals.
Constipation: Several glasses a day of cabbage broth.
Diarrhea: Apply cabbage leaves to the abdominal region during the day and a fresh application for overnight and drink a cabbage broth.
Headache: Apply cabbage leaves to the forehead and nape of the neck and leave on overnight. Applications of the leaves over the liver may also be necessary.
Insect Bites: Rub a crushed cabbage leaf over the bite.
Kidney disease: Apply cabbage leaves over the kidney areas and leave on overnight and also for a few hours during the day
Menses, painful: Apply cabbage leaves over the lower abdomen for several hours.
Sprains: Tie three or four thicknesses of cabbage leaves around the sprained area and leave on over night.
Next time you see the lowly cabbage plant consider that over the centuries many people have derived much relief from physical ailments through using it.
More on medicinal properties of some of the things we grow at the farm: (I am not a trained herbalist, doctor, nurse, etc. so please do more research for yourself!)
Comfrey Leaf and Herb Profile
Also known as
Symphytum officinale, Bruisewort, Knitback, Knitbone, Boneset, Slippery Root, Bruisewort, Ass Ear, and Blackwort.
Comfrey leaf has a long history of use to promote the healing of bones and wounds, as well as internal use to treat a wide variety of ailments from arthritis to ulcers. Dioscorides recorded how it was used in treating the armies of Alexander the Great, and Pliny the Elder also makes mention of its great many uses. Its use in Chinese traditional medicine spans over 2000 years. All Materia Medica from the Middle Ages forward carried descriptions on the uses of comfrey. Comfrey bathes were very common during the Middle Ages. They were especially popular with women who took them before they were married in order to repair their hymen and thus restore their virginity. Comfrey is widely known as “one of nature’s greatest medicinal herbs”, and has appeared in the U.S. Pharmacopoeia, as well as in herbals and compendiums around the world. Recently, reports of the toxic effects of pyrrolizidine alkaloids in comfrey have led some herbalists to be wary of using it internally. PAs in extremely large doses or over long periods of time may cause potentially fatal damage to the liver. Many leading herbalists and traditional healers question the warnings, pointing to laboratory tests that show only minute levels of PAs in random samples of comfrey preparations. One of the most common uses of comfrey leaf is in an ointment or a poultice applied to sprains, broken bones and other wounds, where it promotes rapid healing of both skin lesions and bone breaks.
tannin, rosmarinic acid, allantoin, steroidal saponins, mucilage, inulin, pyrrolizidine alkaloids, Gum, Carotene, Glycosides, Sugars, Beta-sitosterol, Triterpenoids, Vitamin B-12, Protein, Zinc. The main healing ingredient in comfrey leaf appears to be a substance called allantoin, which encourages the rapid growth of cells.
Paste, ointment, tincture, decoction, poultice and in cosmetics.
Research seems to bear out the claims for the healing properties of comfrey leaf. In one major European study, an ointment based on comfrey root proved more effective at relieving both pain and swelling in 142 patients with sprained ankles. In another study with over 300 participants showed that comfrey leaf treatments of varying types (ointments, salves, compresses and other topical applications), were very effective in treating eczema, dermatitis, viral skin infections and ulcers of the lower leg. More recent research in the United States has shown that allantoin, one of comfrey’s main constituents, breaks down red blood cells, which could account for its ability to help heal bruises and contusions as well as promoting the growth of muscle, cartilage, and bone growth. With regards to the warnings that comfrey can cause cancer and liver disease, most herbal practitioners point out that those results were from studies that isolated the pyrrolizidine alkaloids and fed or injected them into animal subjects in doses far higher than any typical usage of comfrey leaf, and that comfrey leaf has been regularly ingested by thousands of people around the world without reported ill effects.
Not recommended for internal use. Not to be used while pregnant. Not to be applied to broken or abraided skin. Comfrey was widely used and recommended until the mid-1980s, when reports began to surface about the possibility of liver damage from the pyrrolizidine alkaloids that some plants contain. In 2001, the FTC and FDA combined to issue an injunction against products containing comfrey that were meant for internal use. This view has been countered by herbalists, who state that common comfrey, the plant most often used for medicinal purposes, contains only negligible amounts of those alkaloids. In fact, one laboratory study of three different sources of comfrey found no pyrrolizidine in one sample, and only negligible amounts in the other two. Still, many herbalists recommend that comfrey preparations should not be taken internally because of the possibility of liver disease and damage. Comfrey should also not be used by pregnant or nursing women.
For educational purposes only This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.