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Horseradish as an Herb

Horseradish as an Herb

Armoracia lapathifolia

Horseradish originated in the southern part of Russia and the eastern part of the Ukraine.

This plant has been in cultivation from the earliest times. Both the root and leaves of Horseradish were universally used as a medicine during the Middle Ages. They were used as a condiment in Denmark and Germany. Around 1548 it was known in England as "Red Cole".

Nearly half a century later, the taste for Horseradish as a condiment had spread to England. By 1657, Coles states as a commonly-known fact, 'that the root, sliced thin and mixed with vinegar is eaten as a sauce with meat, as among the Germans.'

During the Middle Ages (c. 1000-1300) horseradish began to be incorporated into the Passover Seder as one of the marror, or bitter herbs, to be used by the Jewish people.

In the mid-1800s, immigrants living in northeastern Illinois planted horseradish with the intention of selling the roots. Today a large portion of horseradish is grown in areas surrounding Collinsville, Illinois. The town of Collinsville refers to itself as "the horseradish capital of the world".

Horseradish as an Herb for Medicinal Uses

Early physicians and healers would recommend horseradish for everything from a sore throat to digestive upset.

The medicinal part of the plant is the fresh or dried horseradish root. The rootstock has an odor that is strong and irritating. The taste is sharp and burning.

Horseradish is a very strong diuretic, and was employed by old herbalists in calculus and similar afflictions. It is useful in the treatment of dropsy. It was given in scurvy when there was not much fever, as well as administered for various other complaints.

Folk practitioners used the horseradish roots of the plant to treat a number of respiratory ailments, digestive problems, gout, influenza, and other medical ailments. Horseradish has antibiotic properties and practitioners have used it to treat infections of the urinary tract, cough, and bronchitis (Fleming 1998).

Chevallier (2000) reported that modern research supports its efficacy as it is a diuretic, increases digestive secretions, promotes perspiration, and has a variety of other medical applications, such as the roots being used as a poultice for headaches.

An infusion for edema is prepared by pouring 1 pint of boiling water on 1 ounce of Horseradish and 1/2 ounce of Mustard seed, crushed. The dose is 2 to 3 tablespoonsful three times a day.

A compound spirit of Horseradish may be prepared with slices of horseradish root powder, orange peel, nutmeg and spirit of wine, which proves effective in languid digestion, as well as for chronic rheumatism, 1 or 2 teaspoonsful being taken two or three times daily after meals with half a wineglassful of water.

When infused in wine, Horseradish root will stimulate the whole nervous system and promote perspiration.

An infusion of sliced Horseradish in milk makes an excellent cosmetic for the skin when lacking clearness and color. Horseradish juice mixed with white vinegar will also, applied externally, help to remove freckles. The same mixture, well diluted with water and sweetened with glycerine, gives marked relief to children in whooping-cough, 1 or 2 desertspoonsful being taken at a time.

Horseradish syrup is very effectual in hoarseness: 1 drachm of the root, fresh scraped, with 4 ounces of water, is infused two hours in a close vessel and made into a syrup with double its weight in sugar. The dose is a teaspoonful or two, occasionally repeated.

If eaten at frequent intervals during the day and at meals, Horseradish is said to be most efficacious in getting rid of the persistent cough following influenza.

Grind some of the fresh root, combine it with a carrier oil, and use it to massage away muscular aches, and help loosen chest congestion. It can be used to warm a cold body, and to clear up drippy sinuses.

Tincture

1 part fresh root to 5 parts 100 proof vodka. Steep together for 2 weeks, shaking daily. Strain and bottle.

Approved by Commission E:

  • Cough/Bronchitis
  • Infections of the urinary tract

In folk medicine, horseradish is administered for influenza, respiratory ailments, digestion, gout, rheumatism, and liver and gallbladder disorders.

Homeopathic Uses: Uses in homeopathy include eye inflammations, upper respiratory tract inflammations and upper abdominal colic.

Culinary Uses of Horseradish

Used as a condiment. The fresh root is grated and vinegar added. Caution: When vinegar is added, the horseradish is activated. Add vinegar to horseradish in a well ventilated area.

Root may be dug, scraped and ground, then the pulp frozen in plastic bags; thaw as needed and add vinegar and run through a blender (open the windows or process outside).

The most common culinary use for horseradish is to cut up the roots and mix them with vinegar, cream or mayonnaise to make horseradish sauce. The sauce can be paired with roast beef or prime rib.

Try this herb with cheese, mustard, relish, eggs, beef, chicken, fish, shellfish, broccoli, tomatoes, beets, potatoes, squash and apples. A few herbs that pair nicely with horseradish are bay, mint, chives and garlic.

Syrup: Cover freshly grated root with honey or sugar and allow to steep in a cold place. Extract the liquid and store in the refrigerator. Horseradish may also be dried but loses some potency.

Horseradish is a popular spicy condiment used for meats and as an inexpensive substitute in wasabi paste. Young fresh leaves can be eaten in salads.

Folklore

Sprinkle dried, powdered horseradish around your house to repel evil and negate any spells against you.

Cautions

Horseradish can irritate the mucous membranes as well as the stomach lining. People with stomach or intestinal ulcers should not eat horseradish. Excessive use of horseradish may lead to gastric irritation. Direct contact with skin or eyes may cause burning and irritation.

Preparations of horseradish should not be administered to children under 4 years of age.

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