The Health Benefits of Horseradish Root

The Health Benefits of Horseradish Root
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What is Horseradish Root?


Armoracia rusticana, or horseradish root, is a perennial plant, indigenous to southeastern Europe and western Asia. It is a member of the cruciferous family of vegetables. All of these vegetables have a number of phytonutrients in common which are responsible for their spicy, mustardy taste, and, for the cancer-fighting benefits of horseradish, broccoli, cauliflower, and kale. Rich in glucosinolates, eating these vegetables on a regular basis has been proven in clinical trials to reduce the risk of cancer and prevent the growth of tumors.

The benefits of horseradish were recorded thousands of years ago by the Ancient Egyptians, and centuries ago by the Roman naturalist, Pliny the Elder. This intense-tasting root has been a healing food for a number of cultures, including Native Americans as well as Europeans, useful in any case where a stimulant is necessary. Today, it has more of a reputation as a condiment for beef and fish, adding heat and flavor to many dishes. Prepared horseradish root is an ingredient in bloody marys and a spread for roast beef sandwiches. Unknown to many fans of this spicy root are the potent health benefits of horseradish.

Horseradish and Arthritis

Horseradish is one of several plants that have rubefacient properties. Along with stinging nettles and cayenne, when this herbs is applied to the skin it has the ability to widen the blood capillaries. This action increases circulation throughout the entire body, and stimulates blood from deep within the body to circulate to the surface. Although rubefacients are not conventional treatments for arthritis, they have widely been used in traditional medicine to reduce pain and inflammation.

For its anti-inflammation benefits, simply apply a poultice to the affected area for about thirty minutes, or until the area feels hot. A poultice is made from putting the freshly grated root onto a very thin cloth, or gauze. This treatment is also useful for minor muscle aches.

Benefits for the Respiratory System

candied horseradish

The traditional uses for this healing root also include relieving coughs, sinus infections, asthma, and bronchitis. As an overall stimulant, this plant has a number of positive effects on the respiratory system. It is an expectorant; it encourages the body to eliminate excess mucous, which is generally the culprit of respiratory infections. Horseradish root stimulates the opening of air pathways for better breathing. It is also a potent antibacterial agent, cleansing the throat, mouth, and lungs of bacterial infection.

It can be taken with honey; a small amount is effective. Half a teaspoon of freshly grated root in one tablespoon of honey twice a day is beneficial. The benefits of horseradish are even more powerful when taken throughout the day. Try adding fresh or prepared horseradish to your meals.

Other Uses

Horseradish is a versatile healing food. Along with treating inflammation and respiratory problems, it is also a good remedy for periodontitis, which is a bacterial infection around the teeth. The healing benefits of horseradish stimulate the gums, and the antibacterial properties help to ward off the infection. Native American Indians used to chew the fresh root for gum health.

It has also been used to treat urinary tract infections, and to dissolve kidney stones. As a hemetic, horseradish tones and supports the liver, helping this vital organ eliminate waste from the body and increasing the production of bile. Eating horseradish also has an overall stimulatory effect on the immune system.

There are potential side effects to horseradish root because of its intense effect on the body. For this reason, people with gastritis, hypothyroidism, and peptic ulcers, pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, and young children should not consume horseradish.


Hoffmann, David. “The Complete Illustrated Holistic Herbal: A Safe and Practical Guide to Making and Using Herbal Remedies.” (Element Books, 1996).

Kushad, Mosbah. “A Little Dab of Horseradish Could Help Resist Cancer.” (March 9,2005) University of Illinois

photo credit: Lovingshiva

photo credit: Normanack

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