225241 Health Library | Health and Wellness | Wellmont Health System
  • Horseradish

    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.
    Test tube studies performed in the 1950s indicated that horseradish essential oil has antimicrobial properties. 1 However, it is a very long way from test tube studies to actual efficacy in people; virtually all essential oils have antimicrobial properties in the test tube, but none have gone on to show value as antibiotics.
    Constituents of horseradish essential oil include the substance families glucosinolate, gluconasturtiin, and sinigrin. These and similar substances are also found in the plant nasturtium. A preliminary double-blind, placebo-controlled study published in 2007 found some evidence that a standardized combination of nasturtium and horseradish might prevent new bladder infections among people with a history of recurrent bladder infections. 2 This study, however, suffered from numerous problems in design and statistical analysis. An even less reliable human trial found weak evidence that this combination could be helpful for children with sinusitis, bronchitis, or urinary tract infections. 3

    Dosage

    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.

    Safety Issues

    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.

    References

    1 Kienholz M. Studies of antibacterial substances from horseradish ( Cochlearia armoracia ), nasturtium ( Tropaeolum maius ) and garden peppergrass ( Lepidium sativum ). Arch Hyg Bakteriol. 1957;141:182-197.

    2 Albrecht U, Goos KH, Schneider B. A randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of a herbal medicinal product containing Tropaeoli majoris herba (Nasturtium) and Armoraciae rusticanae radix (Horseradish) for the prophylactic treatment of patients with chronically recurrent lower urinary tract infections. Curr Med Res Opin. 2007 Aug 24. [Epub ahead of print]

    3 Goos KH, Albrecht U, Schneider B. On-going investigations on efficacy and safety profile of a herbal drug containing nasturtium herb and horseradish root in acute sinusitis, acute bronchitis and acute urinary tract infection in children in comparison with other antibiotic treatments]. Arzneimittelforschung. 2007;57:238-246.

    Revision Information

  • Join WellZones today.

    Make a Change For LifeLearn more

    Wellmont LiveWell is creating a new tradition of wellness in the mountains by providing individuals with tools and encouragement to live healthier lifestyles.

  • HeartSHAPE Spotlight

    At risk for a heart attack? Learn more

    Fight heart disease early and prevent heart attacks with HeartSHAPE® - a painless, non-invasive test that takes pictures of your heart to scan for early-stage coronary disease.

  • Calories and Energy Needs

    Calorie NeedsLearn more

    How many calories do you need to eat each day to maintain your weight and fuel your physical activity? Enter a few of your stats into this calculator to find out.

  • Ideal Body Weight

    Ideal Body WeightLearn more

    Using body mass index as a reference, this calculator determines your ideal body weight range. All you need to do is enter your height.

  • Body Mass Index

    Body Mass IndexLearn more

    This tool considers your height and weight to assess your weight status.


  • Can we help answer your questions?

    Wellmont Nurse Connection is your resource for valuable health information any time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Speak to a Nurse any time, day or night, at (423) 723-6877 or toll-free at 1-877-230-NURSE.