- Family Cruciferae
- Armoracia rusticana syn. Cochlearia armoracia
- Armoracia lapathifolia
- Mountain Radish, Red Cole, Great Raifort
Overconsumption can irritate the mucous membranes rather than heal them as happens when smaller amounts are taken.
It should be avoided by those with low thyroid function.
A horseradish poultice can cause blistering. Therefore, great care should be taken before attempting this form.
It should not be given to children under four years of age.
Native to Europe, particularly the Volga-Don region, horseradish long ago spread to western Asia and is now cultivated in many parts of the world. A member of the mustard and cabbage family, the plant is a perennial, growing to twenty inches, having deep roots, large leaves, and clusters of four-petaled white flowers. The huge leaves can sometimes be two feet long and six inches wide. The herb is widely cultivated for its root, which is dug up in the fall.
It has been suggested that Pliny (23-79 CE) had horseradish in mind when he described a plant that warded off scorpions. However, for most of its history, the herb has been used mainly as a diuretic and remains a popular condiment throughout many parts of the world.
It is best known for its pungent taste and is one of the five bitter herbs consumed at Passover seder.
The Cherokee used the plant to treat asthma, coughs, and bronchitis. Many tribes, including the Ontario, Delaware, and Mohegan, have applied poultices of the leaves to treat neuralgia and toothache.
- antibiotic (against both Gram+ and Gram-)
- promotes perspiration
- strong digestive stimulant
- glucosilinates (mainly sinigrin)
- vitamins and minerals (especially chromium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, riboflavin, vitamins A and C, calcium, manganese, niacin, and zinc)
The glycosides are responsible for its reddening effect on the skin, an indication, along with a sensation of warmth, of increased circulation to the area.
Volatile oils and isothiocyanates in the root may have mild antibiotic properties.
Today, horseradish is a much undervalued herbal medicine having many healing properties. It has the ability to stimulate the digestion, promote sweating thereby lowering fevers, loosen phlegm and move it out of the system, and rid the body of many harmful organisms. It is especially effective for colds and bronchitis, and urinary or gastrointestinal infections. Ground fresh horseradish mixed with a little honey and added to a cup of hot water is a time-honoured cough remedy.
It is also effective in strengthening the stomach, but it does contain certain oils that can irritate stomach ulcers.
When horseradish is crushed, a component called sinigrin produces allyl isothiocyanate, an antibiotic substance, making it a good remedy for respiratory and urinary tract infections.
A sandwich with freshly grated root is a home remedy for hay fever. The large leaves are often used as an addition to salads.
Externally, a poultice can be used to soothe chilblains. The herb is a good rubefacient, stimulating blood flow and bringing it to the surface of the skin and turning it red, necessary in healing. However, care must be taken not to do more damage to the flesh as it can cause blistering if not handled properly. This gentle action is beneficial for relieving joint and muscle pain by creating warmth and stimulating circulation in the area. It acts as a counterirritant, which interferes with the transmission of pain messages from peripheral nerves to the brain.
A tea can be made from the solution remaining after grated horseradish has steeped in vinegar for a week. This can also be used as a condiment.
Horseradish is also used as a water purifier.