Horseradish, as a grated root, is commonly used as condiment, but it also has medicinal values even when used as a food. It stimulates the digestive process and, at the same time, eases flatulence and other mild gastric upsets due to its antibacterial properties. This also makes it useful for treating urinary infections. As a medicinal herb, horseradish is used to treat inflammation in osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Just like cayenne pepper, horseradish is used as a warming herb to treat influenza and fever. It increases perspiration of the body that cools down the body temperature. It increases circulation, especially in the head. It may also be used externally, similarly to mustard seed, as a poultice for bronchitis.
Common Name of the Herb: Horseradish
Latin Name: Armoracia rusticana
Parts Used: Tap root
Actions: Carminative, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, stimulant, rubefacient, diuretic, hepatic, mild laxative
Preparation and Use: The fresh root is used as vegetable. For infusion, pour one cup of boiling water onto one to two teaspoons of chopped or powdered root. Let it stand for five minutes. Drink this three times each day or so. Grated roots are used externally as a poultice.
Cautions and Limitations of Use:
Excessive use of horseradish may lead to gastric irritation.
- Applying horseradish to the skin might cause skin blisters to those with sensitive skin.
- Horseradish (along with many other cruciferous vegetables) is one of the goitrogenic foods which can interfere with the thyroid gland. See your doctor about whether you should eat these foods if you have a primary thyroid problem.
- Caution for all herbs and foods: Stop using if you experience symptoms of allergy. Seek emergency medical attention if you experience symptoms of a serious allergic reaction including difficulty breathing; closing of your throat; swelling of your lips, tongue, or face; or hives.
- People who are allergic to other foods in the cruciferous family, such as broccoli, cabbage or brussel sprouts may be allergic to horseradish. Consult your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking prescription medications, regarding possible interactions.
- If in doubt about the safety of any herb, consult a doctor with special knowledge and experience with herbs.
- Constituents: glucosilinates, resin, asparagines and Vitamin C.
- Growing the Herb: Dig and cut through the thick root during early spring. Leave a growing tip on each root. Replant these at least 1 foot apart in rich humus soil. Be sure to keep it free from snails and weed. Horseradish needs to be fed regularly with manure and compost.
- How to Gather: Roots are harvested in winter and placed in sand in storage.
- Other English Common Names: German mustard, redcole, stingnose
- Where it Grows: It is native to southeastern Europe and western Asia where it can be found in the wild. It is also cultivated in other parts of the world.
- How to Identify: Horseradish has a long, white tapering or cylindrical root with a two to three foot high stem.