The Amazing Folk Medicine of Cabbage

February 04, 2013


Cabbage had been used for a long time as folk medicine. It reminded me to a kids song when I was young. A song by Melissa, which titled Abang Tukang Bakso. Here I write you some of the lyrics.

Abang tukang bakso! (Meat ball seller Man!)
Mari mari sini!! (Come come here!!)
Aku mau beli!!! (I want to buy!!!)

Abang tukang bakso! (Meat ball seller Man!)
Cepatlah kemari!! (Get here quick!!)
Sudah tak tahan lagi. (I cannot wait any longer)

Satu mangkuk saja. (Just only a cup)
Dua ratus perak. (Two hundreds rupiah)
Yang banyak baksonya!!! (More meat balls!!!)

Tidak pake saos! (Do not use tomato sauce!)
Tidak pake sambel!! (Do not use spicy sauce!!)
Juga tidak pake kol!!! (Also do not use cabbage!!!)

Cabbage is also known as kol, kubis, or kobis in Bahasa Indonesia. From above kids song lyrics, Indonesian people, especially children, were built their mind to hate this amazing vegetable. In my home town of Sidoarjo nowadays, it is hard to find the meat ball sellers who still use cabbage as vegetable addition.

Fresh cabbage, or Brassica oleracea var. capitata, contains β-carotene, fiber, water, protein, fat, carbohydrates, calcium, phosphorus, iron, sodium, potassium, and vitamins (A, C, E, thiamine, riboflavin, nicotinamide).

Cabbage also contains compounds of cianohidroksibutena (CHB), sulforaphane and iberin, which stimulate the formation of glutathione, an enzyme which disposes the toxic substances in the body.

Just like starfruit, cabbage is also an antiscorbutic agent, due to rich in vitamin C. The active substance of histidine in cabbage, together with sulforaphane, can inhibit tumor growth. For colon and rectum cancer prevention, protecting the body from radiation hazards, and also increasing body resistance against cancer.

The amino acid content in cabbage is also efficacious of lowering high cholesterol levels, calming nerves, and generating stamina. Cabbage is also useful as natural laxative. (Sentra Informasi IPTEK)

The Anti-Cancer Studies

Recent study on 2-pyrrolidinone, an active compound present in cabbage, resulted in 2-pyrrolidinone to have potential anticancer effects, which will lead to the development of new anticancer agents for arresting cancer cells growth in vitro. (Thangam R, et al. 2013)

Sulforaphane, an isothiocyanate formed by hydrolysis of glucosinolates found in cabbage, is reported to possess anticancer and antioxidant activities. In the study to evaluate the comparative antiproliferative activity of various sulforaphane fractions (standard, extract and purified) against human epithelial carcinoma HEp -2 and and Vero cells, had resulted in the same antiproliferative effects. (Devi JR, et al. 2012)

A study in 1999 had shown the healing effect on tumor and not just only for prevention. The extract of Brassica oleracea var. capitata juice was tested on Ehrlich ascites (EA) solid tumors of Mus musculus BALB/C mice. The result was Brassica oleracea var. capitata had a healing effect as well as a protective effect on EA solid tumors of mice. (Yurtsever E, et al. 1999)

The Folk Medicine

In England, cabbage is used to compress ulcers and to treat abscesses. In World War I, cabbage was used to treat trench foot. As European folk medicine, cabbage is often used to treat rheumatism, sore throat, hoarseness, colic, and melancholy.

Cabbage has also been used in the United States, to treat hangover, to treat abscesses, to prevent sunstroke, and to treat fevers. Cabbage is also used to sooth sore feet, and to relieve croup (laryngotracheobronchitis) by placing or tied around the neck. Cabbage juice is used as poultices to treat warts, pneumonia, appendicitis, boils and ulcers. (Gabrielle Hatfield 2003)


Encyclopedia of Folk Medicine: Old World and New World Traditions by Gabrielle Hatfield
Encyclopedia of Folk Medicine: Old World and New World Traditions by Gabrielle Hatfield

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