Watercress, gargir, as we call it in Arabic, has always been known for its aphrodisiac powers. The famous Egyptian saying “if women knew the benefits of gargir, they would grow it under their beds, is not unfounded.
But an Egyptian writer protested, arguing regrettably that despite the fact that we have been eating the sour green plant for centuries, we have only seen it as a sex stimulant or a cheaper alternative to iceberg lettuce in our salad.
In his article headlined “The gargir world network, journalist Abdel Fatah Anani reveals that some of those who would smile deridingly at this headline might not know that that such a network really does exist.
Based in Rome, it is operated by a health organization devoted to research on watercress, its nutritional and pharmaceutical value and its related products.
In Europe and the US, said Anani, watercress is added to pizza, and is dried and packed to be sold in supermarkets.
“But what have we done with our gargir? he asks.
The writer related that while gargir-related research in Egypt has been neglected, foreign specialists have taken our gargir seeds and sold it back to us for millions of dollars in the form of medicine and other nutritional products.
While we have restricted our knowledge of gargir to its sexual aspects, others are aware that the plant is rich in calcium, iodine, iron and other vitamins that energize body cells and treat anemia, caused by iron deficiency.
Nutritionists recommend eating fresh gargir or drinking gargir juice on a daily basis because the plant activates white blood cells, preventing decay which is the main cause behind the growth of cancerous cells.
Gargir helps purify the blood of poisons and reduces the chances of developing leukemia. Those quitting smoking are, therefore, advised to drink a glass of gargir juice on an empty stomach every morning to rid the body of accumulated nicotine which nourishes addiction to cigarettes.
Studies conducted on rats at the National Research Center in Cairo proved that both gargir and olive oil are instrumental in reducing body fats and blood cholesterol.
Egyptian scientist Mohamed Saed Khafaghi said that gargir also prevents hair loss. Mix 15 grams of the plant with 50 grams of spirit and orange-blossom water and rub the mixture onto the scalp and rinse it daily for two weeks, he suggests.
The most relevant benefit to gargir should come in handy these days when the temperature has soared triggering many skin problems.
To those suffering from sunburn, the good news is that a spoonful of olive oil added to a minced bunch of gargir, mixed then drained would reduce the effect of sunburn when massaged onto the inflicted areas.
Always add it to your salad, for gargir is helps digestion. It also stimulates urination and ovulation. This is why pregnant women and those suffering from over-secretions of the thyroid gland are warned against consuming it to excess.
All that for a few piasters a day.