Brassica rapa

scientific name: 
Brassica rapa L. subsp. rapa
Botanical family: 

Botanical description

Biennial herb, almost without stem before flowering.  Leaves pinnatifid, up to 60 cm long, with terminal lobe larger and rounded and the lower lobes smaller; inflorescence a raceme, flowers with four yellow petals; fruit dry, dehiscent; roots globose or elongated, skin white, white and purple, green or yellowish, the flesh white or yellow.




  root, syrup (decoction + sugar), orally1

The leaf and the root of Brassica rapa are widely used for human consumption.

For “pneumonia”:

Prepare a syrup from a decoction made with 50 grams of ground fresh root in 500 mL (2 cups large glasses or one pint) of water, boil for at least 10 minutes in a covered pot, filter, add 850 grams of sugar and mix until a translucent solution is obtained, pour into a container and fill with water to make up one liter (two pints).

According to published and other information:

Use for pneumonia is classified as REC, based on the significant traditional use documented in the TRAMIL surveys, and on available published scientific information.

Due to health risks associated with pneumonia, an initial medical evaluation is recommended.  The use of this resource can be considered complementary to medical treatment, unless contraindicated.

Should there be a notable worsening of the patient’s condition, or should the respiratory disorder last more than 5 days, seek medical attention.

Not for use by women intending to become pregnant, during pregnancy, during lactation or by children under 5 years old, or by patients with thyroidal disease.

It should not be used as a therapeutic resource for more than 7 consecutive days.

The seed should not be ingested, due to toxicity risk.

The aqueous extract (infusion) from the root showed strong antimutagenic activity in vitro (100 mL/disk, 0.1 mL/plate) in the Salmonella typhimurium TA98 model with metabolic activation in 2-amino-anthracene-induced mutagenicity; at the same concentration, it was weakly antimutagenic in the Salmonella typhimurium TA100 model in ethyl methanesulfonate-induced mutagenicity15.

The fresh root and the leaf juice (0.5 mL/plate) were inactive as desmutagens in the Salmonella typhimurium TA98 model16.  The whole plant juice was active as an antimutagenic agent in the same model (0.1 mL/plate)17.

The fresh plant juice (0.5 mL/plate) stimulated catalase and peroxidase, and was active as a desmutagen in the Salmonella typhimurium TA98 model18.

The seed oil in rat feed caused myocardial injury19; this oil, added in the ratio of 20% of total weight in the feed ration of young Yorkshire boars, caused death after 1-8 weeks; the anatomical-pathological study evidenced injuries in heart, liver and suprarenal glands, with pathological accumulation of erucic and eicosanoic acid20.  The concentration of triglycerides containing erucic acid in the oil was shown to be directly proportional to the cardiotoxicity of the feeds containing it21.

Administration of the seed oil to hens, at up to 10% of feed content, did not damage egg production, thyroid weight or body weight; whereas at a 20% concentration, it caused disorders in the abovementioned indicators, except for thyroid weight, and deaths occurred due to liver hemorrhage22.

In embryo, the oil caused disorders in the adenosine triphosphatase enzymes (acid and alkaline), peroxidase, succinate-dehydrogenase and cytochrome-oxidases; also on distribution in the body of ascorbic acid, polysaccharides and lipids23.

There is no available information documenting the safety of medicinal use in children or in pregnant women or during lactation.

The root contains proteins, B-II arabinogalactan2, flavonoids: cyanin, rubrobrassicin4; vitamins: ascorbic acid5; sulfur compounds: S-methyl cysteine sulfoxide3, glucobrassicin, progoitrin, gluconapin, gluconasturtin and sinigrin6; and the nitrogenous metabolite: allantoin7.

Proximate analysis of 100 g of root8: calories: 21; water: 92.8%; proteins: 1%; fats: 0.2%; carbohydrates: 4.4%; fibers: 0.8%; ash: 0.8%; calcium: 43 mg; phosphorous: 33 mg; iron: 0.9 mg; sodium: 60 mg; potassium: 281 mg; carotene: 20 µg; thiamine: 0.04 mg; riboflavin: 0.04 mg; niacin: 0.5 mg; ascorbic acid: 22 mg.

The aqueous extract from the root has been reported active in vitro, in agar plate culture, against Klebsiella pneumoniae, Proteus mirabilis, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and P. fluorescens9.

The juice of the fresh root by intraperitoneal administration to in mice (DE50 = 1.4 mL/animal) stimulated the leukocyte production and the reticulo-endothelial system.  The accumulation of neutrophils increased by 42%10.

The polysaccharide fraction of the dried root (20 mL) caused immunoprecipitation2.

The ethanolic extract from the root (200 mg/mL) did not inhibit in vitro replication of Epstein Barr virus11.

The root induced goitrogenic activity in rats (9 g/days/26 days)12.

The aqueous extract from the dried root administered orally to rabbits induced hypoglycemic effects13.

Oral administration of the boiled root caused antithyroid effects in human adult (441 g/person)14.

The allantoin content in the root is thought to have immunostimulating activity7.


1 CHARLES C, 1988 TRAMIL survey. Movement for Cultural Awareness MCA, Roseau, Dominica.

2 TSUMURAYA Y, NAKAMURA K, HASHIMOTO Y, YAMAMOTO S, 1984 Immunological properties of arabinogalactan proteins from leaves of cruciferous plants. Agr Biol Chem 48(11):2915-2917.

3 GUSTINE DL, 1985 Determination of S-methyl cysteine sulfoxide in Brassica extracts by high-performance liquid chromatography. J Chromatogr 319(3):450-453.

4 IGARASHI K, ABE S, SATOH J, 1990 Effects of atsumi-kabu (red turnip, Brassica campestris L.) anthocyanin on serum cholesterol levels in cholesterol-fed rats. Agr Biol Chem 54(1):171-175.

5 YAO G, LI YJ, CHANG XQ, LU J, 1983 Vitamin C content in vegetables and fruits in Shenyang (China) market during four seasons. Yingyang Xuebao 5(4):373-379.

6 TAWFIQ N, HEANEY RK, PLUMB JA, FENWICK GR, MUSK SR, WILLIAMSON G, 1995 Dietary glucosinolates as blocking agents against carcinogenesis: glucosinolate breakdown products assessed by induction of quinone reductase activity in murine hepa1c1c7 cells. Carcinogenesis 16(5):1191-1194.

7 DUKE JA, 1992 Handbook of biologically active phytochemical constituents of GRAS herbs and other economic plants. Boca Raton, USA: CRC Press.

8 DUKE JA, ATCHLEY AA, 1986 Handbook of proximate analysis tables of higher plants. Boca Raton, USA: CRC Press. p30.

9 EL-SAYED AM, EL-SAKHEWY FS, 1993 Furochromone and thiooxazolidone principles of Brassica rapa (Turnip). Az J Pharm Sco 11(6):11-20.

10 YAMAZAKI M, NISHIMURA T, 1992 Induction of neutrophil accumulation by vegetable juice. Biosci Biotech Biochem 56(1):150-151.

11 KOSHIMIZU K, OHIGASHI H, TOKUDA H, KONDO A, YAMAGUCHI K, 1988 Screening of edible plants against possible anti-tumor promoting activity. Cancer Lett 39(3):247-257.

12 SARKAR S, SINGH LR, UNIYAL BP, MUKHERJEE SK, NAGPAL KK, 1983 Effect of common vegetables on thyroid function in rats. A preliminary study. Def Sci J 33(4):317-321.

13 GLASER E, WITTNER L, 1924 The blood sugar lowering effect of plant extracts and oxidases, as well as the occurrence of enzymes in insulin. Biochem Z 151:279-295.

14 GREER MA, ASTWOOD EB, 1948 The antithyroid effect of certain foods in man as determined with radioactive iodine. Endocrinology 43:105-119.

15 BADRIA FA, 1994 Is man helpless against cancer? An environmental approach: antimutagenic agents from Egyptian food and medicinal preparations. Cancer Lett 84(1):1-5.

16 MORITA K, HARA M, KADA T, 1978 Studies on natural desmutagens: Screening for vegetable and fruit factors active in inactivation of mutagenic pyrolysis products from amino acids. Agr Biol Chem 42(6):1235-1238.

17 KADA T, MORITA K, INOUE T, 1978 Anti-mutagenic action of vegetable factor(s) on the mutagenic principle of tryptophan pyrolysate. Mutat Res 53(3):351-353.

18 YAMAGUCHI T, YAMASHITA Y, ABE T, 1980 Desmutagenic activity of peroxidase on autoxidized linolenic acid. Agr Biol Chem 44(4):959-961.

19 KRAMER J, MAHADEVAN S, HUNT JR, SAUER FD, CORNER AH, CHARLTON KM, 1973 Growth rate, lipid composition, metabolism and myocardial lesions of rats fed rapeseed oils (Brassica campestris var. arlo, Echo and Span, and B. napus var. oro.) J Nutr 103(12):1696-1708.

20 KRAMER J, FRIEND D, HULAN H, 1975 Lipid changes in tissue of young boars fed rapeseed oil or corn oil. Nutr Metab 19(5-6):279-290.

21 KRAMER JK, HULAN HW, MAHADEVAN S, SAUER FD, CORNER AH, 1975 Brassica campestrisvar. span: II. Cardiopathogenicity of fractions isolated from span rapeseed oil when fed to male rats. Lipids 10(9):511-516.

22 GRANDHI RR, SLINGER SJ, SUMMERS JP, 1977 Productive performance and liver lesions in two strains of laying hens receiving two rapeseed meals. Poult Sci 56(6):1904-1908.

23 MALIK C, VERMANI S, BHATIA D, 1976 III Histochemical characteristics of suspensor during embryo development in Brassica campestris Linn. var. sarson. Acta Histochem 57(2):178-182.


The information provided is for educational purposes only for the benefit of the general public and health professionals. It is not intended to take the place of either the written law or regulations. Since some parts of plants could be toxic, might induce side effects, or might have interactions with certain drugs, anyone intending to use them or their products must first consult with a physician or another qualified health care professional. TRAMIL has no responsibility whatsoever towards the user for any decision, action or omission made in relation to the information contained in this Pharmacopoeia.