The spicy root of the horseradish plant is a widely used condiment. Native to southeast Europe, it is currently widely cultivated in Germany. In Japan, it is called wasabi, and forms a ubiquitous part of sushi cuisine.
Horseradish root also has a long history of medicinal use. Taken internally, it was thought to be effective for bladder infections as well as other bladder and kidney problems. (Horseradish oil once formed a part of a drug licensed in the US for treatment of bladder infection; however, contrary to statements made on some websites, this drug is no longer in use.) Horseradish was also taken internally as a treatment for respiratory infections and for joint pain. It was also applied externally in the form of a poultice to wounds, painful joints, and strained muscles.
What Is Horseradish Used for Today?
There are no scientific studies of horseradish that have attained even the minimum level of scientific reliability. Only double-blind, placebo-controlled studies can show a treatment effective, and no such studies of horseradish taken by itself have yet been reported. (For information on why such studies are essential, see Why Does This Database Rely on Double-Blind Studies? )
Germany’s Commission E has approved horseradish for supportive treatment of urinary tract infections as well as for treatment of respiratory infections such as acute bronchitis , colds , sore throat , and sinusitis ; however, this approval is more on the base of tradition than science.
A typical recommended dose of horseradish is 3 to 5 g of the freshly grated root taken three times daily, or 2 to 3 ml daily of horseradish tincture. For external use, freshly grated root is wrapped in thin gauze and applied to the skin until a sensation of warmth develops. The combined nasturtium-horseradish product mentioned above should be taken according to label instructions.
As a commonly consumed condiment, horseradish is believed to be relatively safe. However, because of its spicy nature, it can cause burning mouth pain, sweating, and gastrointestinal distress. Left too long in contact in the skin, marked irritation may develop. It is definitely not advisable to get horseradish products in contact with the eyes.
Maximum safe doses of horseradish have not been established for pregnant or nursing women, young children, or people with serious liver or kidney disease.
- Reviewer: EBSCO CAM Review Board
- Review Date: 07/2012 -
- Update Date: 07/25/2012 -