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 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.
- Morning sickness.
- Preventing osteoporosis.
- Other conditions.
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
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.
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.
Be cautious with this combination
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.
Arora S, Vatsa M, Dadhwal V. A comparison of cabbage leaves vs. hot and cold compresses in the treatment of breast engorgement. Indian J Community Med. 2008;33(3):160-2. View abstract.
Balk JL. Indole-3-carbinol for cancer prevention. Altern Med Alert 2000; 3:105-7.
Bolton-Smith C, Price RJ, Fenton ST, et al. Compilation of a provisional UK database for the phylloquinone (vitamin K1) content of foods. Br J Nutr 2000;83:389-99. View abstract.
Bradlow HL, Michnovicz J, Telang NT, Osborne MP. Effects of dietary indole-3-carbinol on estradiol metabolism and spontaneous mammary tumors in mice. Carcinogenesis 1991;12:1571-4. View abstract.
Cohen, J. H., Kristal, A. R., and Stanford, J. L. Fruit and vegetable intakes and prostate cancer risk. J Natl.Cancer Inst. 1-5-2000;92(1):61-68. View abstract.
Dolle S, Hompes S, Lange L, Worm M. Cabbage allergy: a rare cause of food-induced anaphylaxis. Acta Derm Venereol 2013;93(4):485-6.View abstract.
Dr. Duke's Phytochemical and Ethnobotanical Databases. Available at: https://www.ars-grin.gov/duke/.
Dygut J, Piwowar M, Fijalkowska K, et al. Effect of cabbage wraps on the reduction of post-traumatic knee exudates in men. J Altern Complement Med. 2018;24(11):1113-1119. View abstract.
Grubbs CJ, Steele VE, Casebolt T, et al. Chemoprevention of chemically-induced mammary carcinogenesis by indole-3-carbinol. Anticancer Res 1995;15:709-16. View abstract.
He YH, Friesen MD, Ruch RJ, Schut HA. Indole-3-carbinol as a chemopreventive agent in 2-amino-1-methyl-6-phenylimidazo[4,5-b]pyridine (PhIP) carcinogenesis: inhibition of PhIP-DNA adduct formation, acceleration of PhIP metabolism, and induction of cytochrome P450 in female F344 rats. Food Chem Toxicol 2000;38:15-23. View abstract.
Isbir T, Yaylim I, Aydin M, et al. The effects of Brassica oleraceae var capitata on epidermal glutathione and lipid peroxides in DMBA-initiated-TPA-promoted mice. Anticancer Res 2000;20:219-24. View abstract.
Jain, M. G., Hislop, G. T., Howe, G. R., and Ghadirian, P. Plant foods, antioxidants, and prostate cancer risk: findings from case-control studies in Canada. Nutr Cancer 1999;34(2):173-184. View abstract.
Kojima T, Tanaka T, Mori H. Chemoprevention of spontaneous endometrial cancer in female Donryu rats by dietary indole-3-carbinol. Cancer Res 1994;54:1446-9. View abstract.
Kolonel, L. N., Hankin, J. H., Whittemore, A. S., Wu, A. H., Gallagher, R. P., Wilkens, L. R., John, E. M., Howe, G. R., Dreon, D. M., West, D. W., and Paffenbarger, R. S., Jr. Vegetables, fruits, legumes and prostate cancer: a multiethnic case-control study. Cancer Epidemiol.Biomarkers Prev. 2000;9(8):795-804. View abstract.
Larsson, S. C., Hakansson, N., Naslund, I., Bergkvist, L., and Wolk, A. Fruit and vegetable consumption in relation to pancreatic cancer risk: a prospective study. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2006;15(2):301-305. View abstract.
Lauche R, Graf N, Cramer H, Al-Abtah J, Dobos G, Saha FJ. Efficacy of cabbage leaf wraps in the treatment of symptomatic osteoarthritis of the knee: a randomized controlled trial. Clin J Pain 2016;32(11):961-71.View abstract.
Licznerska BE, Szaefer H, Murias M, Bartoszek A, Baer-Dubowska W. Erratum to: Modulation of CYP19 expression by cabbage juices and their active components: indole-3-carbinol and 3,3'-diindolymethane in human breast epithelial cell lines. Eur J Nutr 2016;55(3):1315-6.View abstract.
Licznerska BE, Szaefer H, Murias M, Bartoszek A, Baer-Dubowska W. Modulation of CYP19 expression by cabbage juices and their active components: indole-3-carbinol and 3,3'-diindolylmethene in human breast epithelial cell lines. Eur J Nutr 2013;52(5):1483-92.View abstract.
Lim AR, Song JA, Hur MH, Lee MK, Lee MS. Cabbage compression early breast care on breast engorgement in primiparous women after cesarean birth: a controlled trial. Int J Clin Exp Med 2015;8(11):21335-42.View abstract.
Mageney V, Neugart S, Albach DC. A guide to the variability of flavonoids in Brassica oleracea. Molecules 2017;22(2):pii:E252.View abstract.
Michnovicz JJ, Bradlow HL. Induction of estradiol metabolism by dietary indole-3-carbinol in humans. J Natl Cancer Inst 1990;82:947-9. View abstract.
Michnovicz JJ. Increased estrogen 2-hydroxylation in obese women using oral indole-3-carbinol. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord 1998;22:227-9. View abstract.
Milanesi N, Gola M. Irritant contact dermatitis caused by Savoy cabbage. Contact Dermatitis 2016;74(1):60-1.View abstract.
Nikodem VC, Danziger D, Gebka N, et al. Do cabbage leaves prevent breast engorgement? A randomized, controlled study. Birth 1993;20:61-4. View abstract.
Pantuck EJ, Pantuck CB, Anderson KE, et al. Effect of brussels sprouts and cabbage on drug conjugation. Clin Pharmacol Ther 1984;35:161-9. View abstract.
Platel, K. and Srinivasan, K. Plant foods in the management of diabetes mellitus: vegetables as potential hypoglycaemic agents. Nahrung 1997;41(2):68-74. View abstract.
Roberts KL, Reiter M, Schuster D. A comparison of chilled and room temperature cabbage leaves in treating breast engorgement. J Hum Lact 1995;11:191-4. View abstract.
Roberts KL, Reiter M, Schuster D. Effects of cabbage leaf extract on breast engorgement. J Hum Lact 1998;14:231-6. View abstract.
Roberts KL. A comparison of chilled cabbage leaves and chilled gelpaks in reducing breast engorgement. J Hum Lact 1995;11:17-20. View abstract.
Rokayya S, Li CJ, Zhao Y, Li Y, Sun CH. Cabbage (Brassica oleracea L. var. capitate) phytochemicals with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory potential. Asian Pac J Cancer Prev 2014;14(11):6657-62.View abstract.
Saini P, Saini R. Cabbage leaves and breast engorgement. Indian J Public Health 2014;58(4):291-2.View abstract.
Schuurman, A. G., Goldbohm, R. A., Dorant, E., and van den Brandt, P. A. Vegetable and fruit consumption and prostate cancer risk: a cohort study in The Netherlands. Cancer Epidemiol.Biomarkers Prev. 1998;7(8):673-680. View abstract.
Steinkellner, H., Rabot, S., Freywald, C., Nobis, E., Scharf, G., Chabicovsky, M., Knasmuller, S., and Kassie, F. Effects of cruciferous vegetables and their constituents on drug metabolizing enzymes involved in the bioactivation of DNA-reactive dietary carcinogens. Mutat Res 2001;480-481:285-297. View abstract.
Stoewsand GS. Bioactive organosulfur phytochemicals in Brassica oleracea vegetables--a review. Food Chem Toxicol 1995;33:537-43. View abstract.
Szaefer H, Krajka-Kuzniak V, Licznerska B, Bartoszek A, Baer-Dubowska W. Cabbage juices and indoles modulate the expression profile of AhR, ERa, and Nrf2 in human breast cell lines. Nutr Cancer 2015;67(8):1342-54.View abstract.
Takai, M., Suido, H., Tanaka, T., Kotani, M., Fujita, A., Takeuchi, A., Makino, T., Sumikawa, K., Origasa, H., Tsuji, K., and Nakashima, M. [LDL-cholesterol-lowering effect of a mixed green vegetable and fruit beverage containing broccoli and cabbage in hypercholesterolemic subjects]. Rinsho Byori 2003;51(11):1073-1083. View abstract.
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. USDA Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 14. Nutrient Data Laboratory. Available at: https://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/foodcomp
van Poppel G, Verhoeven DT, Verhagen H, Goldbohm RA. Brassica vegetables and cancer prevention. Epidemiology and mechanisms. Adv Exp Med Biol 1999;472:159-68. View abstract.
Villeneuve, P. J., Johnson, K. C., Kreiger, N., and Mao, Y. Risk factors for prostate cancer: results from the Canadian National Enhanced Cancer Surveillance System. The Canadian Cancer Registries Epidemiology Research Group. Cancer Causes Control 1999;10(5):355-367. View abstract.
Wiczkowski W, Szawara-Nowak D, Romaszko J. The impact of red cabbage fermentation on bioavailability of anthocyanins and antioxidant capacity of human plasma. Food Chem 2016;190:730-40.View abstract.
Yuan F, Chen DZ, Liu K, et al. Anti-estrogenic activities of indole-3-carbinol in cervical cells: implication for prevention of cervical cancer. Anticancer Res 1999;19:1673-80. View abstract.
Zhao H, Lin J, Grossman HB, et al. Dietary isothiocyanates, GSTM1, GSTT1, NAT2 polymorphisms and bladder cancer risk. Int J Cancer 2007;120:2208-13. View abstract.
You Might Also Like
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.