Have you ever tasted a roast beef sandwich and thought your nose was on fire? The sandwich probably contained some horseradish, originating from the same family as mustard. It is quite well-known for its strong and sharp flavour. Horseradish has been used to treat a number of ailments and health problems since centuries. It’s pungent, spicy taste is famous – or perhaps infamous. But, prepared correctly, it not only adds a special extra zest to your food, but brings with it numerous health benefits. Horseradish root is most widely used as a condiment in fish or meat dishes and sandwiches. The intact roots of this plant hardly have any aroma but on being cut or grated, enzymes from the broken plant cells break down into sinigrin to produce allyl isothiocyanate (mustard oil).
What is Horseradish?
Horseradish is a perennial plant native to Russia, Europe and Western Asia, but today it’s grown across the globe. A member of the Brassicaceae family with cabbage, mustard and wasabi, the leaves and root have been recognized in the annals of medicine for thousands of years.
Horseradish is used for urinary tract infections, kidney stones, fluid retention, cough, bronchitis, achy joints (rheumatism), gallbladder disorders, sciatic nerve pain, gout, colic, and intestinal worms in children.
Some people apply horseradish directly to the skin for painful and swollen joints or tissues and for minor muscle aches.
Health Benefits of Horseradish Root
Scientific research over the years has proved that horseradish offers several health benefits. In fact, it has been used since ancient times for treating a number of ailments. Some of its common health benefits are given below.
1. Protects Against Cancer:
The roots of horseradish contain high amounts of glucosinolates which lower the risk of certain types of cancer. This compound boosts the ability of the liver to detoxify carcinogens which may potentially cause tumors. Besides preventing the formation of new tumors, glucosinolates also block the growth of tumors that may already be existing within the body. They are powerful antibiotics that relieve infections by stimulating blood flow to the affected area and eliminating waste products. Glucosinolates and derivatives provide protection against colon and rectal cancers. Processed horseradish provides greater anti-cancer benefits.
2. Treatment of Sinus Infections:
Sinus infection is caused due to the accumulation of mucus in the sinuses, which creates a hospitable environment for bad bacteria to thrive in and is quite painful. The volatile compounds present in horseradish prevent this accumulation by thinning out old mucus. Thus, if you are prone to sinus and upper respiratory tract infections, you can take half a teaspoon of horseradish sauce in the morning and noon and stay for at least 10 minutes after use without food or drink. This will immediately clear the sinuses. Horseradish also relieves the symptoms of influenza, colds and congestion. Horseradish flour paste can be applied over the chest to cure congestion.
3. Treatment of Urinary Tract Infections:
The antibiotic and diuretic properties of horseradish stimulate the production of urine. This vegetable contains certain chemicals which impart antibiotic effects in the bladder. Certain enzymes present in it prevent toxin accumulation, thus speeding up the flushing out of bacteria and other inflammatory agents present in the bladder. A glycoside called “sinigrin” in horseradish has a stimulating effect on blood capillaries, thus relieving water retention. In this way, it can cure urinary tract infections and remove kidney stones by detoxifying the system.
4. Pain Relief:
5. Dental Health:
The intense stimulating effects of horseradish can help in treating paradontosis when chewed. Chewing the roots of horseradish acts as a natural medicine to cure toothache, strengthen your gums and treat scurvy. Since grated horseradish is too spicy, you can mix it with grated carrot to make it more palatable.
6. Beneficial for Stomach:
Gargling with a mixture of 3 to 4 spoons horseradish and half a glass of water can help in alleviating stomatitis. The phytochemicals in horseradish stimulate salivary glands, and gastric and intestinal glands, thus enabling the secretion of digestive enzymes and aiding in digestion. It has also been found to increase appetite. If you are suffering from indigestion, you can grate horseradish and squeeze out the juice. Take around 20 drops of this juice in between meals for relief. However, horseradish should be avoided in cases of peptic ulcer, hyper acid gastritis or hypothyroidism as it might augment these conditions.
7. Boosts the Immune System:
Horseradish has a high content of vitamin C which is a powerful antioxidant. It treats viral infections and boosts immunity. It prevents inflammation and infection by removing the harmful free radicals from the body. Thus, eating horseradish stimulates your immune system by heating up the body internally.
8. Good for Heart:
Horseradish also contains potassium, which helps control blood pressure and heart rate.
9. Other Benefits:
Almost all the parts of a horseradish plant can treat various health disorders. Raw leaves of horseradish when pressed against the fore head can instantly treat headache, the root can cure tonsillitis whereas the tea made from horseradish flowers can treat extreme cold and flu. This vegetable contains iron which aids cellular metabolism and is vital for the production of red blood cells and bone marrow. It also helps in soothing your nerves.
Medical/Healing Use of Horseradish Roots
Horseradish is not just beneficial for your health but it is also used as an ingredient in various cosmetics and beauty treatments. It can be beneficial for your skin in the following ways.
1. Treatment of Skin Discolorations:
Skin Discoloration is caused due to the overproduction of melanin or ceroid in the skin leading to age spots also known as liver spots and birthmarks. Horseradish is a natural way to lighten skin discoloration. For this purpose, prepare a mixture of ¼ cup of apple cider vinegar and 4 inches of grated fresh horseradish. Putting it in a jar, tighten the lid and allow this mixture to sit for two weeks. Shake it daily. Strain this mixture and refrigerate it. Apply it on the skin discoloration with a cotton ball thrice daily.
2. Treatment of Blemishes:
You can make your own lotion by mixing freshly grated horseradish with buttermilk and glycerine and allow it to stand overnight before straining it. Using this regularly will lighten blemishes such as acne and blackheads as well as treat oily skin.
3. Treatment of Freckles:
If you have freckles, you can prepare a mixture of horseradish root powder, oatmeal powder and sour cream. Apply it on your skin, massaging it with your fingers and allow it to sit on your face like a facial mask before washing it off with warm water. For best results, use this mixture at least twice a week.
4. Healing Qualities:
Horseradish has great healing qualities. Horseradish poultices are often applied topically to heal wounds and skin infections. They increase circulation around the infected wounds, thus speeding up the healing process.
5. Prevents Hair Loss:
Horseradish is effective in preventing hair loss. It helps to regenerate the hair roots by improving circulation to the scalp. To regrow your hair, you can either prepare a poultice from horseradish and rub it on your scalp or utilize it in the form of a lotion.
6. Treatment of Dandruff:
A mixture of horseradish and vinegar has been found to be effective in getting rid of dandruff.
Side Effect Of Horseradish Root
Horseradish root is LIKELY SAFE when taken by mouth in food amounts. It is POSSIBLY SAFE for most people when taken by mouth in medicinal amounts. However, it contains mustard oil, which is extremely irritating to the lining of the mouth, throat, nose, digestive system, and urinary tract. Horseradish can cause side effects including stomach upset, bloody vomiting, and diarrhea. It may also slow down the activity of the thyroid gland.
When used on the skin, horseradish is POSSIBLY SAFE when preparations containing 2% mustard oil or less are used, but it can cause skin irritation and allergic reactions.
Special Precautions & Warnings:
Children less than 4 years old: Horseradish is LIKELY UNSAFE in young children when taken by mouth because it can cause digestive tract problems.
Pregnancy and breast-feeding: It’s LIKELY UNSAFE to take horseradish by mouth in large amounts if you are pregnant or breast-feeding. Horseradish contains mustard oil, which can be toxic and irritating. Horseradish tincture is also LIKELY UNSAFE when used regularly or in large amounts because it might cause a miscarriage.
Stomach or intestinal ulcers, inflammatory bowel disease, infections or other digestive tract conditions: Horseradish can irritate the digestive tract. Don’t use horseradish if you have any of these conditions.
Underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism): There is concern that using horseradish might make this condition worse.
Kidney problems: There is concern that horseradish might increase urine flow. This could be a problem for people with kidney disorders. Avoid using horseradish if you have kidney problems.