As well as being a highly nutritious food, cabbage has many healing and therapeutic benefits. It is a rich source of vitamins C and beta-carotene, which is a precursor to vitamin A. These vitamins are antioxidants and help combat free-radical damage in the body, which makes them great for anti-aging. Cabbage is also high in fiber, B vitamins, calcium, magnesium, manganese, potassium, folic acid, protein and essential fatty acids. It is alkaline, which makes it a good balance for acid forming meat and potatoes.
Here are some further medicinal applications for cabbage:
- Cabbage is excellent for gastrointestinal health because of its high fiber content. It is especially good for overcoming constipation.
- The water from cooking cabbage was always recommended by my grandmother for anyone with stomach upset.
- Cabbage juice, because of its alkaline nature, is beneficial for the treatment of ulcers. It is best to drink the juice immediately after extracting it, as it tends to oxidize and lose some of its vitamin C if left to sit around.
- A drink made from 1 cup shredded cabbage, 1 cup diced carrot, 1 cup diced sweet squash and 1 diced onion, simmered with 5 cups water for about 20 minutes is excellent for balancing blood sugar and treating hypoglycemia. Strain off the water and drink it. It is soothing for the spleen and stomach and is best taken at the time of day when these organs are most active, between 2 and 4 p.m.
- Cabbage, because of its folic acid content, is excellent to take during pregnancy, as this is one of the nutrients recommended to lower the risk of having babies with spina bifida.
- Cabbage leaves have also been recommended for the treatment of mastitis and painful breasts during breastfeeding. If there's heat or inflammation involved, it's best to apply the cabbage raw, like a cold compress. Alternatively, the leaves can be lightly blanched and applied like a warm compress. When heated, the leaves release various anti-inflammatory chemicals and phytohormones that can soothe and heal.
- Warmed cabbage leaves can be used as a poultice to treat infection, inflammation, sprains or aching joints.
- The cabbage family vegetables are known for their cancer-preventing nutrients, particularly fermented cabbage, also known as sauerkraut, which supports healthy digestion.
Cruciferous vegetables like cabbage are said to have an adverse affect on thyroid functioning, as they interfere with iodine uptake. If you have an underactive thyroid, it may be best to limit the consumption of cabbage family foods to see if you get any relief from your symptoms, or at least to include more high-iodine foods like sea vegetables in your diet. Conversely, people with hyperthyroidism may actually benefit from the thyroid-suppressing affect of cabbage.
Cooking partially inactivates the interfering chemical, which is medically referred to as a goitrogen, so if you have a thyroid issue, make sure you eat these vegetables in cooked form.
Get some great ideas for cooking with cabbage