Cabbage, (Brassica oleracea), a member of the Brassicaceae (Mustard) Family, is derived from wild cabbages brought from Asia by roving Celts around 600 BC. The word cabbage is from the Latin caput, meaning “head”, due to cabbage’s head like shape.
Cabbage is esteemed as alterative, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, circulatory stimulant, muscle builder, and diuretic. It has been used to strengthen eyes, gums, teeth, bones, hair, liver and nails. Cabbage is believed to lower the risk of heart disease, strokes and cataracts. It has been used to treat asthma, high cholesterol, colds, colic, constipation, cough, depression, diabetes, eye infections, fibrocystic breast disease, gout, headaches, hearing loss, insomnia, irritability, kidney and bladder disorders, lumbago, lung congestion, exposure to radiation, skin ailments, tuberculosis, ulcers, yeast infections, and to drive out intestinal worms.
Cabbage contains fiber, protein, histamine, beta carotene, folic acid, vitamins B1, B6, C, K, U (after its ability to heal ulcers), bioflavonoids, calcium, fluorine, iodine, iron, potassium, and sulfur. Cabbage contains indoles, which may help prevent breast cancer by inhibiting estrogens from stimulating tumor growth. It also contains monoterpenes, which are antioxidants that give protection against heart disease and cancer. Other anti-cancer properties in cabbage include dithiolthiones, glucosinolates, indoles, isothiocyanates, coumarins and phenols. Cabbage helps reduce the risks of colon, esophageal, lung, skin, and stomach cancers.
Savoy, of most likely Italian origin cabbage is the crinkly variety. Bok choy, or Napa is the Chinese cabbage and is considered sweet and cooling. Cabbage also comes in red and white, which is called “green cabbage.” Cabbage is neutral to warming in temperature and sweet and pungent in flavor and alkaline.
Look for firm, crisp cabbages with no evidence of decay or worm infestation. It is an inexpensive vegetable and stores well over the winter. Cabbage is used stuffed, in cole slaws, salads, soups or juiced. Fermenting cabbage, often with the addition of salt, makes sauerkraut. It can be rinsed before serving to lower the sodium content. Unpasteurized sauerkraut contains microorganisms that promote healthy intestinal flora.
Cabbage contains goitergens, which can interfere with normal thyroid function when iodine levels are low. Some people complain that cabbage causes them gas, though many health authorities feel this is due to the cleansing nature of cabbage that helps loosen old bowel pockets.
Chopped cabbage leaves are used as a topical poultice to treat painful joints, bug bites and stings, burns, eczema, rashes, varicose vein, and wounds, including gangrene. Cabbage: Can be used as a poultice on almost anything. Try it for hemorrhoids!