Spicy, Healing Horseradish

Reader Contribution by Lori Osterloh-Hagaman

My earliest memories of horseradish (Cochlearia Armoracia) include my mother’s mother digging it up in late August. She would grind it up and share her plentiful batches with the neighbors, who would add it to everything from sauer krat to meat loaf. Everyone recognizes the pungent taste of this common plant. It can be found in many mayo-based sauces to complement meats heavy in fat content, like pork

The medicinal part of this plant is the root. WebMD.com lists these as other names for the peppery root:

Amoraciae Rusticanae
Armoracia lopathifolia
Armoracia rusticana
Cochlearia armoracia
Cran de Bretagne
Grand Raifort
Great Raifort
Mountain Radish
Moutarde des Allemands
Moutarde des Capucins
Nasturtium armoracia
Rábano Picante
Rábano Rústico
Radis de Cheval
Raifort Sauvage
Red Cole
Rorippa armoracia

No one seems to know the exact origin of the plant, but it became rather popular during the middle ages in the Nordic and Germanic regions. By the 1600’s it had spread to England where it garnered its common name Horseradish. Horse meaning coarse, in ordering to distinguish it from the common radish. It is a member of the Cruciferae family as is broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, etc. It is cold tolerant and can be planted early on in the spring.

Healing Properties of Horseradish

This spicy root has been used for respiratory ailments. The famed Dr. Christopher suggested using Horseradish for sinus ailments. He advised holding a bit of the pungent root in the mouth until the taste was gone. Anyone that has ever eaten it knows the root’s ability to make the sinuses instantly drain. Even today, it is in many remedies for respiratory complaints and allergies.

For centuries herbalists have used Horseradish as a remedy for urinary complaints, including stones. By mixing the ground root with vinegar and honey to taste, the diuretic qualities of horseradish can be put to use.

It is said to be able to ensure the gut’s ability to produce protective mucus when eating meat that may be slightly questionable. While I do not recommend finding out if this works, it is interesting to know that it helps create protective mucus in the gut lining. This leaves room for experimentation to find out if it can aid in cases of irritated gut. It is said to be a remedy for intestinal worms in children.

Horseradish has also been shown in studies to display anti-bacterial effects. 

I’ve had many clients successfully use horseradish in herbal blends and as a single remedy. Since the taste can be quite pungent, the easiest way to get this herb down is as an encapsulated preparation. I have found that about six capsules, spread throughout the day, can make a world of difference in managing the stuffy, itchy, watery nose and eyes that can make spring a terrible experience for some. The horseradish can also be added to various meals in order to get the mucus flowing. It is better to get the mucus flowing in order to relieve the pain sometimes associated with these ailments.