How does it feel?
Horseradish is thought to be native to Eastern Europe, specifically parts of southern Russia and the Ukraine. The plant is part of the Brassicaceae family, which includes plants like mustard, wasabi and cabbage. It can grow to heights of between 1.5-2metres and is cultivated across the globe for its large, white root. It is a hardy, upright perennial plant with large, dark green lobed leaves and characteristic small white flowers that grow in bunches towards the top of the plant.
All around the world the actions of traditional medicines were understood by their immediate sensory impacts. Click on each of horseradish’s key qualities below to learn more:
What can I use it for?
Horseradish contains glucosinolates, specifically a constituent known as sinigrin which is broken down to produce allyl isothiocyanate, also known as mustard oil. This volatile oil is hot, stimulating and pungent. When applied externally, it stimulates blood flow to the surface of the skin and encourages vasodilation. When taken internally, these strong volatile components prove particularly effective as decongestants and also as digestive stimulants. Glucosinolates contain portions of sulphur, which exhibit some antibiotic activity and can be useful in fighting chronic infections characterised by mucous congestion.
Glucosinolates act directly upon the thyroid, and can depress its functioning, which can prove useful in cases of hyperthyroidism, but are contra-indicated in hypothyroidism.
Into the heart of horseradish
Horseradish is suited to cold and damp conditions characterised by a poor circulation and excess mucous or phlegm. Its stimulating pungency ignites the digestive fire and clears toxicity and stuck congestion within the intestines, including yeast and bacterial overgrowths or imbalances. The volatile oils present in horseradish also display antiseptic and analgesic actions within the body, helping to relieve pain influenced by swelling, infection and toxic congestions within the digestive or respiratory system such as phlegm and mucous. Horseradish is also effective against conditions that are characterised by the presence of an obstruction, most commonly within the urinary and respiratory system. The pungency of horseradish will help to eliminate obstructions and expel them from the body in the form of expectoration or through urination.
Indicated in digestive systems characterised by cold, damp and mucous based conditions such as loose stools, appetite loss, nausea, flatulence, indigestion and abdominal swelling. Its antibiotic and analgesic qualities also indicate horseradish in cases of gastroenteritis. Its hot pungency makes horseradish effective at removing excess microbial overgrowths within the digestive system such as candida or general dysbiosis.
Horseradish is indicated in cold, damp and mucous based conditions of the respiratory system such as excess mucous production characterised by coughing, sinusitis, chronic bronchitis and chronic asthma. It will remove excess phlegm and stagnation by encouraging expectoration.
Indicated in conditions of the musculoskeletal system characterised by pain and inflammation such as arthritis and gout but also in neuralgic pain and cold extremities. Horseradish will stimulate the circulation and remove stagnation, whilst also acting as an effective painkiller.
Horseradish is indicated blocked urination, dysuria, urinary stones and anuria. This herb will help to drain fluid congestion and also remove any obstructions from the urinary tract and kidneys.
Indicated in chronic infections or infected wounds, also parasitic infections and food poisonings. It can be used to effectively treat flu, nephritis, cystitis and bronchitis.
Did you know?
When you cut or grate the horseradish root, enzymes present in the root break down sinigrin, a glucosinolate, that produces allyl isothiocyanate also known as mustard oil. It is this component that is responsible for the ‘biting’ taste present in mustard and horseradish condiments.
May irritate eyes & skin when grating/cutting fresh root. Best preserved in vinegar otherwise it quickly loses potency.
Traditional Ayurvedic characteristics are
- Rasa (taste) Bitter, pungent.
- Virya (action) Heating.
- Vipaka (post-digestive effect) Pungent.
- Guna (quality) Sharp/penetrating, hot, light, oily.
- Dosha effect: K–, VP+.
- Dhatu (tissue) Rasa/plasma, rakta/ blood, medas/fat.
- Srotas (channels) Rakta/circulatory, meda/fat, anna/digestive, prana/ respiratory.
Fresh: 2 to 4 grams before meals
Tincture: 0.25-0.5ml (25%) daily
External: Can be applied as a poultice to painful joints & for chest infections