It’s the root of the horseradish plant that is used as a spicy condiment. It originates from the same family as cabbage and mustard and is native to western Asia and southeastern Europe. The roots have a thick yellow pulp. Their shape is cylindrical with a slight crown at the end.
The benefits and dangers of the root have been known to humans for some time.
Ancient Indians would chew on the root to help relieve dental problems such as toothaches. The root is high in vitamin C and was used as a herbal remedy for scurvy.
It can also be used to treat sinus infections. Mucus gathers in sinus passages during an infection causing congestion and often painful pressure. Horseradish thins the thick mucus making it easier to drain. It is most effective if taken at the beginning of a cold or flu. It may also be useful in treating congested lungs.
The root also contains glucosinolates which help to kill carcinogenics which can cause tumors. They also have an antibiotic quality and can help the body during infections by improving blood flow to affected areas and removing waste materials.
Although it hasn’t been proven, horseradish is said to stimulate appetite.
But too much of a good thing can be harmful. Consult your doctor before using horseradish as a potential cure and be aware of the side effects.
The whole root doesn’t have an odor, but when it’s cut or otherwise damaged, the sulphur compounds it contains can irritate the eyes and nasal passages. It is also capable of irritating exposed skin to the point of causing blisters.
The roots contain substances that can get in the way of the hormones produced by the thyroid gland. This usually isn’t a danger to healthy individuals, but those with thyroid problems can develop an enlarged thyroid gland
Ingesting large quantities of the raw root can be toxic. It is capable of causing diarrhea with blood, vomiting and nausea. If you experience any of these symptoms, you should stop use and call your doctor. If vomiting with blood occurs seek immediate medical attention. Problems come from the horseradish affecting the mucus membranes of the stomach and intestinal tract.
Women who are pregnant, nursing or trying to become pregnant should avoid the root as should small children. People with any kind of stomach problem, intestinal issue or kidney disease are also advised to abstain from the substance.
Do not feed pets or livestock the leaves as a fatal condition can result.
Horseradish is available as an oil. However it is a strong substance and you should think twice about purchasing it to store at home.
Like most things, horseradish isn’t for everyone. It can be beneficial, tasty and safe when used with caution.