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10 Major Health Benefits Of Horseradish Root

August 26, 2019 by Ravi Teja Tadimalla

Medically reviewed by Thais Tisatto, BHSc Health Science - Nutrition Medicine

A popular condiment, horseradish tastes hot though it doesn’t have a lingering aftertaste. It originated in south-eastern Europe, and eventually spread all over the world. And research has revealed quite a number of interesting facts about this root. Which is why you need to keep reading.

Table Of Contents

  • How Is Horseradish Good For You?

  • What Are The Benefits Of Horseradish?

  • What Is The Nutritional Profile Of Horseradish?

  • Horseradish Vs. Wasabi – What’s The Difference?

  • What Are The Side Effects Of Horseradish?

How Is Horseradish Good For You?

Some of the important benefits of horseradish come from its component allyl isothiocyanate, which is known to prevent different forms of cancer.

Other compounds in horseradish, namely glucosinolate and sinigrin, also possess chemopreventive effects. The root contains several other antioxidants that treat respiratory disorders like mucus and sinusitis. They also help combat bacterial infections, including that of the urinary tract.

And like we said, there are several other ways horseradish can do wonders for your health.

What Are The Benefits Of Horseradish?

1. Horseradish Helps Combat Cancer

The glucosinolates in horseradish were found to activate the cancer-fighting enzymes, and this can prove beneficial to patients combating cancer (1). What is more interesting is that these glucosinolates, in the plant world, actually protect the plants from toxic environments. In fact, horseradish contains 10 times more glucosinolates than broccoli.

There are other preliminary studies that state how horseradish can induce cell death in the case of colon cancer (2). All of this only accentuates the possibility of glucosinolates being used as a potential cancer cure (3).

2. Is An Antioxidant Powerhouse

Horseradish root possesses several phytocompounds, types of antioxidants that are extremely beneficial to human health (4). Some other antioxidants in horseradish are antimutagenic, which means that they can protect the body from mutagens that otherwise inflict grave harm.

There is research that also shows how horseradish can decrease DNA damage caused by oxidative stress (5).

3. Can Help Treat Urinary Tract Infections

The antibiotic properties of horseradish can help treat urinary tract infections in some cases, better than conventional treatment (6). Another reason horseradish works well in this aspect is sinigrin, the compound we spoke of initially. Sinigrin is an effective diuretic and prevents water retention, and this helps deal with urinary tract infections.

Did You Know? Horseradish is still planted and harvested by hand.

4. Enhances Digestion

Certain enzymes in the root can stimulate digestion and aid bowel movements. Horseradish root is also considered a cholagogue, i.e., it stimulates bile production in the gallbladder – thereby aiding digestion (7).

And the little fiber in the root can also improve digestion.

However, certain reports also recommend horseradish against digestive issues. Hence, it is best to consult your doctor.

5. Fights Inflammation

One Italian study states that horseradish can help fight inflammation – it achieves this by reducing the release of reactive oxygen species (8). Several parts of Chinese medicine have recommended the use of horseradish to help prevent inflammation – be it in the case of injury or even for relief from arthritis pains.

However, we need more research on this.

6. Eases Respiratory Ailments

The antibiotic properties of the root can play a major role in treating respiratory ailments. In fact, traditional medicine has seen the use of horseradish root for treating bronchitis, cough, common cold, and sinusitis.

The results of a study were quite surprising. When a drug containing horseradish root was tested against conventional antibiotics, the results were quite comparable. The root was able to help treat sinusitis (or congestion) and bronchitis in ways similar to that of the treatment (9).

7. Has Antimicrobial Properties

It is the allyl isothiocyanate in the root that offers antimicrobial properties. Studies have shown that this compound can offer protection against a variety of microbes (10). And in yet another study, roast beef added with horseradish essential oil displayed the most resistance against bacterial growth (11).

The antimicrobial properties of horseradish also help in the treatment of ear infections.

8. Helps Treat Melasma

Melasma is a condition where brown patches appear on the face. But since horseradish root has bleaching properties, it can help treat skin discoloration – which is the primary symptom of melasma.

You can simply cut the horseradish root into slices and rub one directly on your skin. Ensure the juice of the root is applied to the affected areas. You can allow it to dry and then rinse with lukewarm water and pat dry. Repeat once a week until the brown patches fade.

You can also mix two tablespoons of horseradish powder with one cup of sour cream. Apply the mixture to your face and leave it on for 30 minutes. Wash your face with lukewarm water. Repeat once a week until you see positive results.

Did You Know? A study conducted by MIT showed that an enzyme in horseradish, called horseradish peroxidase, can clean wastewater by removing a number of pollutants.

9. Horseradish Can Help Reduce Age Spots

The skin-lightening properties of horseradish have a role to play here.

You can make horseradish paste and apply it to the affected areas. Leave it on for about 20 minutes and then wash it off with lukewarm water. You can follow this remedy a few times a week.

Alternately, you can grate a four-inch piece of horseradish and mix it with a quarter cup of apple cider vinegar. Allow the mixture to sit for about two weeks, post which you strain it. Using a cotton ball, apply it to the affected areas. Follow this remedy thrice a day for about a month.

10. Can Boost Hair Growth

Though there is little research on this, some sources say that the antioxidants in horseradish help regenerate hair and prevent hair loss. They achieve this by improving circulation to the scalp.

Simply prepare a poultice from horseradish and apply to your scalp. Leave it on for about 20 minutes and then shampoo as usual.

These are the benefits of the much popular condiment, which is now gaining acclaim for its goodness as well. But how do you measure goodness? Yes, with the nutrients.

Horseradish Vs. Wasabi – What’s The Difference?

The similarity is that both of them belong to the same family of plants (called Brassica) that also includes broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and mustard. And both of them are known for their wickedly pungent flavors.

Talking about the differences, horseradish is cultivated primarily for its large roots (which are brown-skinned and pure white inside). And wasabi is grown for its bright green stem.

And though the two have an evil flavor that might punch you in the throat, wasabi also feels like a vegetable with some little sweetness. But horseradish is downright hot and pungent.

Those are the major ways horseradish differs from wasabi. And it is important to know that most wasabi sold in the United States is just horseradish. Horseradish grows faster and bigger than its cousin and is hence cheaper to procure and use.

But well, not everything is rosy about this hot condiment. What do we mean by that?

What Are The Side Effects Of Horseradish?

  • Digestive Issues In Children

Children under 4 years of age must stay away from horseradish as it can cause issues in the digestive tract.

  • Issues During Pregnancy And Breastfeeding

Horseradish contains mustard oil that can be irritating and even toxic. Hence, pregnant and breastfeeding women must stay away from all forms of horseradish.

  • Digestive Problems

Though horseradish can help treat certain digestive issues, there is evidence that it can also aggravate intestinal ulcers, inflammatory bowel disease, or other digestive conditions that might be present that might be present especially if there is mucosal damage. Hence, consult your doctor.

  • Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism is a condition that occurs due to an underactive thyroid gland. Horseradish might worsen this condition.

  • Kidney Problems

Horseradish might increase urine flow, and this can be a matter of concern for individuals with kidney disorders.


There is no reason a simply everyday condiment must not become a part of your mainstream diet. Horseradish has benefits, so, why not?

Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions

How to make horseradish sauce?

Quite simple. You need 1 cup of sour cream, ¼ cup of grated horseradish, 1 teaspoon of white wine vinegar, ½ teaspoon of kosher salt, 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard, and ¼ teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper.

Mix all the ingredients in a medium bowl and refrigerate for about 4 hours or overnight for the flavors to blend. You can store the sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 weeks.

How to eat horseradish?

You can use grated horseradish in a sandwich or wrap for extra zing. Or you can have it with scrambled eggs and salsa. You can also add a teaspoon to your salad dressing. You can also eat the horseradish leaves, but keep in mind that they have a sharp and bitter and peppery taste. You can eat them raw or cooked.

How to buy and store horseradish?

If you are going for fresh horseradish root, ensure they are firm and have no soft or green spots. They should also have no mold. Avoid older roots that look shriveled and dry or are beginning to sprout. You can also go for bottled prepared horseradish in the refrigerated condiment section of your grocery store.

You can store the unwashed root in a plastic bag in the vegetable drawer of your refrigerator. And we don’t recommend you freeze the whole pieces. But grated horseradish can be frozen for up to 6 months.

How much horseradish can you take in a day?

Consuming too much of horseradish is a problem. However, there is no concrete research yet with respect to the dosing. So, please consult your doctor before including it in your diet.

What do you call horseradish in different languages?

Horseradish is called “rábano picante” in Spanish, “meerrettich” in German, “là gēn” in Chinese, “rafano” in Italian, and “yang gochu naeng-i” in Korean.


1. “Cancer-fighting properties of horseradish”. ScienceDaily. 2. “Colon cancer proliferating…”. US National Library of Medicine. 3. “Naturally-occurring glucosinolates…”. US National Library of Medicine. 4. “Extract from Armoracia rusticana…”. US National Library of Medicine. 5. “Gentiana asclipiadea and Armoracia…”. Neoplasma. 6. “Efficacy and safety profile of a herbal…”. US National Library of Medicine. 7. “Horseradish”. 1,000 foods to eat before you die. 8. “Anti-inflammatory activity…”. US National Library of Medicine. 9. “On-going investigations on efficacy…”. US National Library of Medicine. 10. “Allyl isothiocyanate as a cancer…”. US National Library of Medicine. 11. “Microbiological, chemical and sensory…”. Wiley Online Library.

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