Popular condiment potent medicine

By Sari Huhtala

This potent herb has 300 per cent more vitamin C than citrus fruits, anti-cancer compounds that have been shown to supress cancer cell growth, is used medically to treat respiratory tract and urinary tract infections in Germany, and has been used since the Middle Ages as powerful anti-inflammatory medicine and more.

Cultivated for over 4,000 years, horseradish has been gaining interest in the scientific community for its high levels of glucosinolates, the compound that makes it powerful medicine, according to a review, Horseradish: a Neglected and Underutilized Plant Species for Improving Human Health, which appeared in the journal Horticulturae.

Research shows this functional food:

  • Was used as a treatment for scurvy due to its high vitamin C content.
  • Has 10 times more glucosinolates, anti-cancer compounds, than broccoli, so a little goes a long way
  • Is used in traditional medicine as an expectorant and cough medicine
  • Treats bronchitis, sinusitis
  • Diluted horseradish juice can be used to create an effective antibiotic mouthwash for treating gum disease
  • May help prevent and inhibit cancer, including breast, colon, lung, pancreas, prostate, and stomach cancers
  • Has powerful antimicrobial and antibacterial properties and have been shown to be effective against Streptococcus mutans, Streptococcus sobrinus, Lactobacillus casei, Staphylococcus aureus, Enterococcus faecalis, and Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans; one strain of yeast, Candida albicans; and three strains of anaerobic bacteria: Fusobacterium nucleatum, Prevotella nigrescens, and Clostridium perfringens.
  • Its pungent smell can help expel upper respiratory tract mucus.
  • Sinigrin, a glucosinolate in horseradish, has been found to prevent water retention, and prevent kidney and urinary tract infections.
  • Has potent digestive enzymes, stimulating the production of bile in the gallbladder, and supporting healthy digestion
  • Can help with constipation
  • Ground roots or a compress made from its leaves can be used topically for pain due to injury, arthritis and inflammation, as well as for headaches
  • Is high in potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium and phosphorus
  • 20 grams of fresh roots daily is used as a treatment for colds and respiratory infections in traditional medicine
  • Ancient Greeks used horseradish roots as a rub for back pain
  • Its high antioxidant content helps fight oxidative stress caused by free radicals

Horseradish is a prolific growing perennial that is easy to grow in home gardens, with little care involved.

If buying prepared horseradish from a store, be sure to read the label to look for hidden ingredients. Most often it is found on conventional grocery store shelves as horseradish sauce and not a healthy option. Here’s what you’ll find on the label for the Irresistibles brand of horseradish sauce: soybean oil, water, horseradish, sugar, frozen yolk, salt, modified corn starch, mustard, dehydrated onion, spices, natural flavour, Tara gum, citric acid.

Here’s how I make horseradish after my fall harvest:

Grate about ½ cup of fresh horseradish. It’s very pungent when grating. Place in a mini food processor or Magic Bullet. Add about 1 tbsp water and 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar or white vinegar and a pinch of salt. Process to desired consistency. Place in glass jar with a lid. Keep refrigerated.

Grated roots can also be used to make a horseradish cough syrup.

Clean horseradish roots well, removing all dirt. Bring to boil ½ cup of filtered water. Add about 3 tablespoons of grated horseradish to the boiling water. Cover, and remove from heat. Steep for about 6-8 hours. Strain, then reheat the liquid just enough to dissolve the honey. Add ½ cup of raw honey, stir to combine, then pour into a sterilized glass jar. Take 1 tsp 2-3 times a day for coughs and colds.

Alternatively, make a horseradish tea steeping a small amount of grated horseradish in boiled water.

Consult with a doctor if pregnant or breastfeeding before using horseradish medicinally. Avoid horseradish if allergic to foods in the Brassicaceae family.

(This information is not intended to replace medical advice and treatment from a health care practitioner).

Sari Huhtala is the creator, publisher and editor of Alive and Fit Magazine. She has over 25 years experience in journalism and over 15 years experience as a certified personal trainer and fitness instructor. She is an organic farmer, wild-crafter and grandmother, who has spent over 20 years navigating a holistic, healthy path for her family.

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