Horseradish

Armoracia rusticana

Horseradish is a perennial plant with a thick whitish rhizome (underground stem) that has a bitter aroma. The plant can grow up to 60 cm in height.

Horseradish has small white flowers. Its leaves are long with marginally tooth-like serrated edges that grow out from the base root of the plant. The plant is native to south-eastern Europe and western Asia. It grows well in a variety of unlikely urban environments and is hard to remove once established.

Nowadays Horseradish is widely cultivated around the world. The plant’s leaves are edible, but the root is the only part commonly eaten.

Horseradish has been cultivated since antiquity. Pliny the Elder recommended Horseradish for its medicinal qualities. During the Middle Ages the horseradish root was used as a condiment with meats in many northern European countries.

Traditional uses
  • The root has a long history of use in traditional medicine. It has been used to treat bronchial and urinary infections, inflammation of the joints and tissues, sinus congestion, and edema1
  • Internally, it was used to expel afterbirth, relieve colic, increase urination, and kill intestinal worms in children2,3
  • The Horseradish root is used as a condiment and may be grated and mixed with other flavourings to make sauce or relish3
Properties
  • Antimicrobial effect has been observed using Horseradish essential oil and a distillated extract from fresh Horseradish root4, 5, 6 (in vitro)
How it can be used
  • Preparations are used internally (orally) to treat catarrhs7
  • Preparations are used internally as a support to the treatment of infections of the urinary tract7
Precautions
  • Horseradish has an irritating effect on the mucous membranes
  • Do not use during pregnancy or while breastfeeding
The information provided here is only intended to augment people's awareness and knowledge of the properties and uses of some plants. This information is not intended to substitute advice from a physician and is not a substitute for professional medical care. The authors do not recommend collecting and using wild plants from an urban environment as these can be contaminated by several types of pollutants that are harmful to human health.

Although references are provided and information has been compiled with care, errors may be present. The remedies listed here should not be used without prior consultation with a qualified healthcare professional. The authors are not responsible for any adverse effect or consequences resulting from the use of the information published in this website.
References
  • In vitro evidence: evidence from studies using isolated components of living organisms such as cells or purified molecules
  • In vivo evidence: evidence from studies with whole living organisms
  • Clinical trial evidence: evidence from clinical trials conducted with humans
  1.  Yu EY, Pickering IJ, George GN, Prince RC. In situ observation of the generation of isothiocyanates from sinigrin in horseradish and wasabi. Biochim Biophys Acta . 2001;1527(3):156-160.
  2. Chevallier A. The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants . New York, NY: DK Publishing Inc; 1996.
  3. Lininger SW, Wright JV, et al, eds. The Natural Pharmacy . Rocklin, CA: Prima Publishing; 1998.
  4.  Ward SM, Delaquis PJ, Holley RA, Mazza G. Inhibition of spoilage and pathogenic bacteria on agar and pre-cooked roast beef by volatile horseradish distillates. Food Res Int . 1998;31(1):19-26.
  5.  Delaquis PJ, Ward SM, Holley RA, Cliff MC, Mazza G. Microbiological, chemical and sensory properties of pre-cooked roast beef preserved with horseradish essential oil. J Food Sci . 1999;64(3):519-524.
  6.  Maslov AK, Luzhnova SA, Kalyanina OV. Effects of horseradish root on functional activity of phagocytes, total blood cell count, and state of the liver in mice with experimental leprosy. Bull Exp Biol Med . 2002;134(2):156-158.
  7. Blumenthal M, ed. 1998 The Complete German Commission E Monographs. Boston, MA: American Botanical Council.
  8.  Newall CA, Anderson LA, Phillipson JD. Herbal Medicines: A Guide for Health-Care Professionals . London, England: The Pharmaceutical Press; 1996.
  9. Ernst E. Herbal medicinal products during pregnancy: are they safe? BJOG . 2002;109(3):227-235
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