The Doctor’s Kitchen Podcast: #115 Watercress as Medicine with Dr Kyle Stewart

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Watercress! It’s a beautiful ingredient. Peppery, vibrant, grown in the UK and fantastically healthy for you. It’s a vegetable from the Brassicaceae family. That includes other favourites of mine including broccoli, cabbage, sprouts and bok choy and more. A few studies demonstrate their ability to reduce DNA damage which could explain the association between brassica vegetable intake and reduced cancer risk and watercress is also known to be a good source of Lutein, beta carotene and vitamin C.

But is that all? My next guest Dr Kyle Stewart is a GP in South Devon as well as CEO and co-founder of Watercress Research Ltd. He holds an Honorary Clinical Associate Research Fellowship in Theoretical Medicine at The University of Exeter, alongside an NHS England Clinical Entrepreneur Fellowship which is how we were connected.

On today’s show you’ll hear how Kyle’s experience with a young child suffering nappy rash led him to find out more about the wonderful properties of watercress. And how research that has stemmed from this ever so common problem, could also extend to reducing the need for antibiotics, preventing and treating certain cancers and even creating a new form of plant-based protein. Starting off by finding out about the mechanism behind nappy rash and its relationship to ammonia, Dr Kyle discovered that watercress contains urease-inhibiting properties .. but the rabbit hole goes a lot deeper.

We have a wider conversation about the untapped potential of plants in general and how little we know about these incredible ingredients that we consume every day. Considering the success of cardiac drugs like digoxin and blood thinners like aspirin that have all been discovered from plants, why aren’t we aggressively investigating these more?

Using different preparations, experimental methods and a sprinkle of ingenuity could we create a completely new class of plant medications that have the ability to treat everything from eczema to IBD?

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