Overview

Cabbage is a plant that is commonly eaten as a vegetable. It is a relative of broccoli, Brussels sprout, cauliflower, and kale. People use the leaves for medicine.

Cabbage is used for hard, painful breasts in breast-feeding women. It is also used for swelling (inflammation), cancer, and conditions in the stomach and intestine, but there is no good scientific evidence to support these other uses.

How does it work ?

Cabbage contains chemicals that are thought to help prevent cancer. Cabbage might change the way estrogen is used in the body, which might reduce the risk of breast cancer.

Cabbage might also reduce swelling and help with wound healing. Overall, it isn't well understood how the chemicals in cabbage might work as medicine.

Uses & Effectiveness ?

Possibly Effective for

  • Hard, painful breasts in breast-feeding women. Whole cabbage leaves seem to be about as effective as chilled gel-packs in relieving swelling and pain, but not as effective as a hot/cold compress. Cabbage leaf appears to be more effective than general nursing care for decreasing breast pain and hardness. A cabbage leaf extract applied as a cream has also been tried. Some women say it helps, but it's not better than a cream without the cabbage leaf extract.

Insufficient Evidence for

  • Bladder cancer. There is some evidence that people who eat large amounts of cabbage and related vegetables, such as kale, broccoli, and cauliflower, have a lower risk of developing bladder cancer.
  • Colon cancer, rectal cancer. There is some evidence that people who eat large amounts of cabbage and related vegetables, such as kale, broccoli, and cauliflower, have a lower risk of developing colorectal cancer.
  • Stomach cancer. There is some evidence that people who eat large amounts of cabbage and related vegetables, such as kale, broccoli, and cauliflower, have a lower risk of developing stomach cancer.
  • High levels of cholesterol or other fats (lipids) in the blood (hyperlipidemia). Early research suggests that adding cabbage and broccoli to a beverage containing fruit and other vegetables for 3-9 weeks might lower "bad" low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in people with high cholesterol.
  • Knee pain. Placing crushed cabbage leaves on the knee underneath ice seems to help with healing in people with a severe knee injury.
  • Lung cancer. There is some evidence that people who eat large amounts of cabbage and related vegetables, such as kale, broccoli, and cauliflower, have a lower risk of developing lung cancer.
  • Osteoarthritis. Early research shows that applying cabbage leaf wraps to the knees for at least 2 hours per day for 4 weeks reduces pain in people with knee osteoarthritis. The cabbage leaf wraps seem to work as effectively as applying gel containing the medicine diclofenac.
  • Pancreatic cancer. There is some evidence that people who eat large amounts of cabbage have a lower risk of developing pancreatic cancer.
  • Prostate cancer. Some evidence shows that people who eat large amounts of cabbage and related vegetables, such as kale, broccoli, and cauliflower, have a lower risk of developing prostate cancer. But other research shows no benefit.
  • Stomach pain.
  • Stomach and intestinal ulcers.
  • Excess stomach acid.
  • Asthma.
  • Morning sickness.
  • Preventing osteoporosis.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of cabbage for these uses.

Side Effects

When taken by mouth: Cabbage is LIKELY SAFE when consumed in food amounts. It is POSSIBLY SAFE for most people when taken by mouth in medicinal amounts, short-term.

When applied to the skin: Cabbage is POSSIBLY SAFE for most people when applied to the skin, short-term. Some people have reported pain and burning sensations when applying cabbage to the skin, but this is uncommon.

Special Precautions and Warnings

When taken by mouth: Cabbage is LIKELY SAFE when consumed in food amounts. It is POSSIBLY SAFE for most people when taken by mouth in medicinal amounts, short-term.

When applied to the skin: Cabbage is POSSIBLY SAFE for most people when applied to the skin, short-term. Some people have reported pain and burning sensations when applying cabbage to the skin, but this is uncommon. Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There isn't enough reliable information to know if cabbage is safe to use in medicinal amounts when pregnant. Stay on the safe side and stick to food amounts.

Cabbage is LIKELY SAFE when applied to the skin for a short amount of time while breast-feeding. Applying cabbage leaves to the breasts to relieve swelling and pain due to breast-feeding seems to be safe when done several times a day for a day or two. There isn't enough reliable information to know if cabbage is safe to take by mouth in medicinal amounts when breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and stick to food amounts.

Allergy to vegetables from the Brassicaceae/Cruciferae family: There is some concern that people who are allergic to cabbage relatives from the Brassicaceae/Cruciferae family, such as broccoli, Brussels sprout, and cauliflower, might also be allergic to cabbage. If you have allergies, be sure to check with your healthcare provider before consuming cabbage.

Diabetes: Cabbage might affect blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. Watch for signs of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) and monitor your blood sugar carefully if you have diabetes and use cabbage.

Under-active thyroid gland (hypothyroidism): There is some concern that cabbage might make this condition worse. It's best to avoid cabbage if you have an under-active thyroid gland.

Surgery: Cabbage might affect blood glucose levels and could interfere with blood sugar control during and after surgical procedures. Stop using cabbage at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.

Interactions ?

    Moderate Interaction

    Be cautious with this combination

  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) interacts with CABBAGE

    The body breaks down acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) to a get rid of it. Cabbage might increase the breakdown of acetaminophen (Tylenol, others). Taking cabbage along with acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) might decrease the effectiveness of acetaminophen (Tylenol, others).

  • Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 1A2 (CYP1A2) substrates) interacts with CABBAGE

    Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver.

    Cabbage might increase how quickly the liver breaks down some medications. Taking cabbage along with some medications that are changed by the liver can decrease the effectiveness of some medications. Before taking cabbage talk to your healthcare provider if you take any medications that are changed by the liver.

    Some of these medications that are changed by the liver include clozapine (Clozaril), cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril), fluvoxamine (Luvox), haloperidol (Haldol), imipramine (Tofranil), mexiletine (Mexitil), olanzapine (Zyprexa), pentazocine (Talwin), propranolol (Inderal), tacrine (Cognex), theophylline, zileuton (Zyflo), zolmitriptan (Zomig), and others.

  • Medications changed by the liver (Glucuronidated Drugs) interacts with CABBAGE

    The liver helps the body break down and change some medications. The body breaks down some medications to get rid of them. Cabbage might increase how quickly the body breaks down some medications changed by the liver. Taking cabbage along with these medications changed by the liver might decrease the effectiveness of some medications change by the liver.

    Some of these medications changed by the liver include acetaminophen, atorvastatin (Lipitor), diazepam (Valium), digoxin, entacapone (Comtan), estrogen, irinotecan (Camptosar), lamotrigine (Lamictal), lorazepam (Ativan), lovastatin (Mevacor), meprobamate, morphine, oxazepam (Serax), and others.

  • Oxazepam (Serax) interacts with CABBAGE

    The body breaks down oxazepam (Serax) to get rid of it. Cabbage can increase how quickly the body gets rid of oxazepam (Serax). Taking cabbage along with oxazepam (Serax) might decrease the effectiveness of oxazepam (Serax).

  • Warfarin (Coumadin) interacts with CABBAGE

    Cabbage contains large amounts of vitamin K. Vitamin K is used by the body to help blood clot. Warfarin (Coumadin) is used to slow blood clotting. By helping the blood clot, cabbage might decrease the effectiveness of warfarin (Coumadin). Be sure to have your blood checked regularly. The dose of your warfarin (Coumadin) might need to be changed.

  • Medications for diabetes (Antidiabetes drugs) interacts with CABBAGE

    Cabbage might lower blood sugar. Diabetes medications are also used to lower blood sugar. Taking cabbage along with diabetes medications might cause your blood sugar to go too low. Monitor your blood sugar closely. The dose of your diabetes medication might need to be changed.

    Some medications used for diabetes include glimepiride (Amaryl), glyburide (DiaBeta, Glynase PresTab, Micronase), insulin, metformin (Glucophage), pioglitazone (Actos), rosiglitazone (Avandia), and others.

Dosing

The following doses have been studied in scientific research:

ADULTS

APPLIED TO THE SKIN:
  • For hard, painful breasts in breast-feeding women: Sometimes cabbage leaves are prepared by stripping out the large vein of the cabbage leaf and cutting a hole for the nipple. Cabbage leaves are rinsed and chilled. The chilled cabbage leaf is worn inside the bra or as a compress under a cool towel until the cabbage leaf reaches body temperature (usually 20-30 minutes). This procedure is repeated 1-4 times daily for 1-3 days.
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CONDITIONS OF USE AND IMPORTANT INFORMATION: This information is meant to supplement, not replace advice from your doctor or healthcare provider and is not meant to cover all possible uses, precautions, interactions or adverse effects. This information may not fit your specific health circumstances. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified health care provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor or health care professional before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your health care plan or treatment and to determine what course of therapy is right for you.

This copyrighted material is provided by Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Consumer Version. Information from this source is evidence-based and objective, and without commercial influence. For professional medical information on natural medicines, see Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Professional Version.
© Therapeutic Research Faculty 2020.