Horseradish Information, Uses and Side-effects

Horseradish (Armoracia rusticana) is native to Europe and Asia (southern Russia, eastern Ukraine). It is naturalized in North America can be found growing along roadsides. In America and Europe, it is cultivated and processed as food. Horseradish is mainly used as appetizing spice and condiment. It belong to mustard family and the roots of plant contain oil with strong pungent odour and biting taste. It is added to sauces for flavoring.

Horseradish medicinal uses
By Anna reg - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Horseradish is high in vitamin C and cure deficiency of this water soluble vitamin. Horseradish is good source of vitamin C, fibers, manganese, magnesium, potassium, and zinc. It is good for digestive system. The leaves of plant are used in salads and sandwiches.

In India, horseradish is not much cultivated and mainly grown in gardens in North India and hill stations of South India.

Horseradish is a medicinal herb and used traditionally for healing many disorders. The leaves and roots were used extensively as medicine in Europe during the Middle Ages.

General Information

Horseradish is perennial herb with cylindrical thick, fleshy roots. The plant reaches a height of 2–3 feet. The stem of plant is branched. The basal leaves are large, oblong and long stalked with serrate margin. The stem leaves are narrow and smaller. The plant bears aromatic white flowers arranged in compound terminal panicle. The seeds of plant are not viable and the plant propagates by root division with a section of the crown attached which is cut off when the roots are harvested.

This herb requires temperature between 5 and 19°C with an annual rain fall of 50–170 cm and a soil pH of 5.0–7.5. It prefers moist, semi-shaded environments of the north-temperate regions.

Scientific Classification

The botanical name of Horseradish is Armoracia rusticana. It belongs to plant family Brassicaceae / Cruciferae. Below is given taxonomical classification of plant.

  • Kingdom: Plantae – Plants
  • Subkingdom: Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
  • Superdivision: Spermatophyta – Seed plants
  • Division: Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
  • Class: Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
  • Subclass: Dilleniidae
  • Order: Capparales
  • Family: Brassicaceae ⁄ Cruciferae – Mustard family
  • Genus: Armoracia G. Gaertn., B. Mey. & Scherb. – armoracia
  • Species: Armoracia rusticana G. Gaertn., B. Mey. & Scherb. – horseradish


  • Cochlearia armoracia Linn.
  • Armoracia lapathifolia Gilib.
  • Nasturtium armoracia (L.) Fr.
  • Radicula armoracia (L.) B.L. Rob.
  • Rorippa armoracia (L.) Hitchc.

Part(s) used for medicinal purpose: Leaves and roots

Plant type: Herb

Habitat: All parts of Europe and North America. Grown in North India and hill stations of South India.

Known for: Sharp flavored condiment

Constituent of roots

Main constituent of roots are essential oil, calcium, sodium, magnesium, vitamin C (302 mg / 100 gram) and many enzymes.

The oil is pungent, acrid and volatile. Presence of isothiocyanates (Sulfur containing compounds) gives intense pungency and aroma to horseradish. Isothiocyanates are released from the glucosinolate sinigrin and 2-phenylethylglucosinolate by the enzyme myrosinase in presence of water.

Vernacular names/Synonyms

  • Latin: Armoracia rusticana
  • English: Horseradish, Red Cole, Creole Mustard, German Mustard, Horse-Radish Root (Archaic) And Red Horseradish
  • German: Moutarde des allemands

Important Medicinal Properties

Horseradish is rich in medicinal properties. The understanding of these properties will help us to better utilize this herb. These also indicate the conditions in which we should avoid it.

For example, it has diuretic action and should be avoided in diseases where use of diuretic is restricted. It depresses thyroid functions. Horseradish was also used traditionally to cause abortion.

Below is given medicinal properties along with the meaning.

  1. Abortifacient: Induces abortion.
  2. Allergenic: causing allergic sensitization.
  3. Antiscorbutic: Curing or preventing scurvy.
  4. Antibacterial: Active against bacteria.
  5. Antiseptic: Capable of preventing infection by inhibiting the growth of infectious agents.
  6. Appetizer: Improves appetite.
  7. Decongestant: Decreases congestion.
  8. Diaphoretic: Promote sweating.
  9. Diuretic: Promoting excretion of urine/agent that increases the amount of urine excreted.
  10. Digestive: Digestant.
  11. Expectorant: Promotes the secretion of sputum by the air passages, used to treat coughs.
  12. Hypothyroidism: Depress thyroid function
  13. Rubefacient: Produces redness of the skin on topical application by causing dilation of the capillaries and an increase in blood circulation.
  14. Stimulant: raises levels of physiological or nervous activity in the body.

Medicinal Uses of Horseradish

For medicinal purpose the roots of plant, either fresh or dried are used. The roots of plant are diuretic, mild laxative and expectorant. They have rubefacient property and on topical application produces redness of the skin by causing dilation of the capillaries and an increase in blood circulation. The roots are used in treatment of flu, fever, weakness, infection of urinary tract, venereal diseases, cancer, asthma, coughs, colic, scurvy, respiratory infections, gout, rheumatism, arthritis, and joint pain.

  1. It stimulates digestion.
  2. It lowers fever by increasing sweating.
  3. It cures deficiency of vitamin C.
  4. It increases passing of urine.
  5. Chewing root piece promotes the secretion of saliva (sialagogue).
  6. For lung strengthening, clearing sinuses, the fresh roots are used in combination with honey and raw apple cider vinegar. The roots are minced and mixed with equal parts raw honey, raw apple cider vinegar and stored in fridge.
  7. For hoarseness, the roots are cooked in milk and given with honey.
  8. For dandruff, 5 ml of mother tincture is mixed in 50 ml of water and applied on the scalp at bedtime and left overnight. The next morning it is washed with a non-medicated shampoo and process is repeated for three consecutive days.
  9. Its topical application increases circulation.
  10. For Joint pain, rheumatism, stimulating flow of blood, poultice of roots is applied externally.
  11. For infected wounds, poultice of roots is applied due to its antibacterial and antiseptic action.

Dosages of Horseradish

  1. 1 -2 tablespoon of horseradish
  2. 1.5–3 grams of dry root
  3. 2–3 ml tincture thrice a day

Contraindications, Interactions, and Side Effects of Horseradish

  1. It is safe to take as natural seasoning and flavoring.
  2. It may cause irritation, blister or rashes on topical application in people with sensitive skin.
  3. It should not be consumed in excess as it can irritate digestive system, cause bloody vomiting, diarrhea, or the development of an allergic response.
  4. It use should be discontinued if any side-effect such as night sweating, diarrhea occur.
  5. It lowers the blood pressure.
  6. It should not be given to children below the age of 4.
  7. Do not use in pregnancy, during breastfeeding, in young children, and people suffering from gastrointestinal diseases.
  8. Avoid use three days before taking blood in stool test as it may cause false positive.
  9. It may depress thyroid function.
  10. It interacts with Levothyroxine.
  11. It should not be taken with thyroxine.
  12. Do not consume in Low thyroid function and Kidney diseases.
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