Armoacia rusticana; (Cruciferae)
Horseradish is one of those ancient plants whose origin no one really knows. Some consider that it originated in Hungary or other parts of eastern Europe, as far east as Russia and as far north as Finland. It is mentioned by the ancient herbalist Pliny as being good for medicine but not used as food.
Both the root and leaves were used as medicine during the Middle Ages, and the root was used as a condiment in Denmark and Germany during that time. Gerard (1597) mentions it as an accompaniment to fish and meat, and also says that it doesn't grow well with grapevines: . . if the rootes heerof be planted neere to the vine, it bendeth backward from it as not willing to have fellowship with it.
Horseradish was one of the five bitter herbs (along with coriander, horehound, lettuce, and nettle) eaten historically during the feast of the Passover; in present times, horseradish is still commonly used in the Passover Seder.
Horseradish is a member of the same family as cabbages, broccoli, brussels sprouts, etc.: the Cruciferae family. It is not cold sensitive and can be planted early in the spring, to be harvested in early summer. You plant it from root starts, and it grows very well in normal garden soil with little care. Each fall you can dig up the established roots, divide them, and increase your harvest the following year. Fresh horseradish is an altogether different experience than storebought; the pungency and bite are the same, but the taste is fresher and sweeter. You can send away for starts from garden suppliers, or you can get starts from friends with established horseradish. If you live with severe winters, you need to mulch the plants heavily overwinter to protect them. Every few years you'll need to replant the bed by digging up the plants and dividing them; otherwise the roots lose their quality. Like comfrey, horseradish grows from the tiniest piece of root left in the soil; if you are trying to eliminate it from a certain place in your garden, be thorough.
Dr. Christopher recommended horseradish as a reliable remedy for sinus infections. Start with 1/4 teaspoon of the freshly grated root and hold it in your mouth until all the taste is gone. It will immediately start cutting the mucus loose from the sinuses to drain down the throat. This will relieve the pressure in your sinuses and help clear infection.
Additionally, horseradish is has been shown in laboratory tests to be antibiotic, active against a variety of bacteria, so this can benefit a sinus infection. It has a high sulphur content, which may contribute to its antibiotic properties. A pungent oil in the root contains these properties.
Horseradish has long been considered a powerfully effective diuretic, used by herbalists for centuries to treat kidney stones and like conditions. For bladder infections, mix 3-4 tablespoons of the fresh grated root with apple cider vinegar and honey to taste. Take the whole amount throughout the day. Alternatively, eighteenth-century herbalist Dr. Coffin recommended the following as a diuretic: Put together 1 ounce freshly-grated horseradish root, and ½ ounce mustard seed, bruised; pour on 2 cups boiling water. Let stand, covered, for 4 hours and take in tablespoon doses to remove excess water from the system in cases of edema (dropsy), especially after fevers. You can also mix 4 ounces grated horseradish in a quart of apple cider vinegar, capping and letting stand in a warm place, such as near a radiator or in the sun, for 12 hours. Loosen cap to release any built-up gases, retighten and shake well. Let stand in a cool place for another 12 hours. Strain and add 4 ounces glycerine. Take a tablespoonful in a cup of water before meals and before bedtime. This will relieve overaccumulations of water in the body. You can also make a warm infusion in apple cider, drinking enough before bed to cause perspiration, to cure dropsy.
The root has also been used for indigestion and putrefaction in the digestive tract. Grate the root and squeeze out the juice. Take 15 to 20 drops of this juice three times a day between meals. Horseradish has long been taken with fish or meats to cut the fat and counteract spoilage. If a person were to eat horseradish with meat suspected to be spoiled (and all meat is in a degree of spoilage, beginning to putrefy as soon as the animal is slaughtered), by taking horseradish, you could ensure that the digestive tract would produce a protective mucous coat that could prevent further irritation, inflammation, nausea and possible absorb some of the putrefied substances in the meat. (Fortunately, most of Dr. Christopher's student are vegetarian so they don't have to worry about these matters).
Horseradish preparations can also clear lung problems, coughs and asthma. Try it for such conditions and you will see that it is an immediate and very effective expectorant, cutting mucus and allowing you to eliminate it. Similarly it works well in respiratory ailments related to allergies, such as hayfever. You can make an infusion, sweetened with a little honey, for persistent coughs.
You can use horseradish for rheumatic and arthritic conditions. It stimulates the mucus surfaces throughout the entire body. Take the sweetened, warm infusion as required, and you can also grate the fresh root, warm it gently, and apply it to the affected surface, covering it with plastic to protect your clothing and bedding. The historical herbalist Culpeper said, If bruised and laid to a part grieved with the sciatica, gout, joint-ache or hard swellings of the spleen and liver, it doth wonderfully help them all.
You can also add it to a footbath or handbath to relieve chilblains. Some people place the grated root directly on the chilblains and then cover with a bandage or plastic. Grate it and gently warm it to use in place of a mustard plaster, being sure to rub the area with oil or vaseline before applying, in order to avoid blistering. For facial neuralgia, hold some of the grated root in your palm and hold on the affected area.
Horseradish is noted as a skin treatment, to remove spots and blemishes from the skin. Use 4 ounces freshly-grated horseradish, 1 quart buttermilk (dairy products used externally are okay), and 4 ounces glycerine. Place all in a half-gallon jar and shake well. Let stand overnight in a cool place. Shake well again and strain through a fine strainer. Bottle and keep cold, in the fridge. Then at night wash the areas on your face you want to treat, such as spots, discolorations, freckles, blackheads, scuff, or any skin blemish. Rub the horseradish lotion into the desired spot until the skin tingles with warmth. Wipe of the surplus and go to bed. This will stimulate the skin and bleach out unwanted discolorations. It is superior to any skin product on the market, according to Dr. Shook.
Horseradish is often used as a tonic for a tired or deranged system. It is known as a successful vermifuge, helping to kill and expel worms from the system. It is an important immune stimulate which is used in herbal formulas to increase the number of white blood cells in the bloodstream. It is also a known antioxidant, helping to counteract the bad effects of stress and pollution in the environment. Horseradish is known to be a specific tonic for the spleen and most especially the liver, which it helps to detoxify and stimulate.
If your nursing baby has a stuffy nose and can't nurse well, grate a little horseradish and hold it up to the baby as it tries to suckle. The fumes will quickly clear the nasal passages (and the baby will probably cry for a minute because they are so strong).
You should always use horseradish fresh; if it is grated and stands too long, it will lose its potency. You can, however, grate it and mix it with apple cider vinegar, placing it in a well- capped container in the fridge. This preparation will last indefinitely. Use horseradish raw; cooking it takes away both the medicinal effect and its flavor.
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