Horseradish Root: Health Benefits and Side Effects


Horseradish root is a popular condiment that originates from south-eastern Europe. It tastes hot but has an aftertaste that does not linger. Horseradish root is rich in nutrient and mineral content, which includes vitamin C, dietary fiber, folate, zinc, potassium, magnesium, manganese, calcium, as well as organic chemical composition of enzymes and oils, like sinigrin.

These components function together to provide the amazing health benefits of horseradish root. For instance, its component allyl isothiocyanate is known to inhibit various forms of cancer. Other compounds in horseradish like glucosinolate also contain chemopreventive properties.

The root contains a host of other antioxidants that treat respiratory disorders such as sinusitis and mucus. They also help fight off bacterial infections like that of the urinary tract.

Health Benefits of Horseradish Root

Like it was mentioned above, there are several amazing ways horseradish root can do wonders for your health. Let’s take a look at some of them.

Boosts Digestion

Some enzymes in the root are responsible for stimulating digestion and easing bowel movements. Horseradish root is also considered a cholagogue as it stimulates the production of bile in the gallbladder – and so, aids digestion. The fiber in the horseradish root can also enhance digestion. However, it is best to consult your doctor before using the root for digestive issues.

Combats Cancer

The glucosinolates present in horseradish help to activate the cancer-fighting enzymes, and this can be beneficial to people suffering from cancer. In fact, some preliminary studies suggest that horseradish can induce cell death, especially in colon cancer. This further confirms the possibility of glucosinolates being effective as a cancer cure.


Possesses Antimicrobial Properties

The allyl isothiocyanate in the root has been attributed with antimicrobial properties. According to some studies, this compound can provide protection against a range of microbes and resistance against bacterial growth. In addition, the antimicrobial properties of horseradish help in the treatment of ear infections.

Has Antioxidant Properties

Horseradish root contains several phytocompounds, types of antioxidants that are very beneficial to health. Some other antioxidants in horseradish are antimutagenic, which means that they can safeguard the body against mutagens that may inflict serious harm. Some other studies state that horseradish can lower DNA damage caused by oxidative stress.

Helps Fight Inflammation

Horseradish can help fight inflammation by reducing the release of reactive oxygen species. The root helps to prevent inflammation – whether in the case of injury or even as relief from arthritis pains. However, keep in mind that more research is needed on this.

Treats Urinary Tract Infections

In most cases, the antibiotic properties of horseradish can help treat urinary tract infections better than conventional treatments. One other reason for horseradish’s function in this aspect is sinigrin, the compound found in the root. Sinigrin is a potent diuretic and prevents the retention of water, and this helps treat urinary tract infections.


Alleviates Respiratory Conditions

The antibiotic properties of the root can play a primary role in treating respiratory conditions. In fact, in traditional medicine horseradish root is used for treating sinusitis, bronchitis, cough, and common cold.

Supports Hair Growth

Although not much research has been conducted in this area, there are reports that the antioxidants in horseradish help regenerate hair and prevent hair loss. They do this by boosting circulation to the scalp.

To treat scalp issues, simply make a poultice from horseradish and apply to the scalp. Leave it on for about 20 minutes and then wash off.

Good for the Skin

Skin conditions like melasma (brown patches on the face) can be treated with horseradish root. The root contains bleaching properties which can help treat skin discoloration – which is the main symptom of melasma.

Simply cut the horseradish root into slices and rub directly on the skin. Make sure the juice of the root is applied directly to the affected areas. After allowing it to dry, rinse with warm water and pat dry. You can carry out this process weekly until these patches fade out.

Alternatively, mix two tablespoons of horseradish powder with one cup of sour cream. Apply the mixture to the face and leave it on for about 30 minutes. Wash your face with warm water. You can repeat this weekly until you notice positive results.

Reduces Age Spots

The skin-lightening properties of horseradish have a huge role to play in this regard. 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 repeat 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, after which you strain it. Using a cotton ball, apply it to the affected areas. Follow this remedy thrice a day for about a month.



Consuming too much of horseradish may be a problem. However, there is insufficient evidence yet with regards to the dosing. So, please consult your doctor before incorporating the herb in your diet.

Side Effects of Horseradish

Horseradish is generally considered safe for topical and internal consumption but not everything is amazing about this condiment. There are several precautions to take before using this herb.

  • Horseradish has mustard oil that can be toxic. And so, pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers are advised to steer clear of horseradish root in its various forms.
  • Horseradish can cause digestive tract issues in children below 4 years of age.
  • Horseradish might increase the flow of urine, and this can be detrimental for people with kidney disorders.
  • Hypothyroidism is a condition that happens due to an underactive thyroid gland. Horseradish might aggravate this condition.
  • While horseradish can help treat certain digestive issues, there are reports that it can also worsen inflammatory bowel disease, intestinal ulcers, or other digestive conditions. You should consult your doctor before using it for this purpose.
  • Horseradish has high contents of sodium and the calories which come from sugar. While it is commonly consumed in small amounts, it is still important to keep in mind that sodium can be detrimental to people with obesity.
  • In addition, horseradish has a mild diuretic quality, which can worsen problems for people with kidney disorders, inflammatory bowel disease or peptic ulcer.

How to Eat Horseradish

You can simply use grated horseradish in a sandwich or with scrambled eggs and salsa. You can also add a teaspoon to your salad dressing. Horseradish leaves are also edible, but remember that they have a sharp, bitter and peppery taste. You can either eat them raw or cooked.

How to Buy and Store Horseradish

  • If you are considering using fresh horseradish root, make sure they are still firm and have no mold or soft spots.
  • It is best to stay away from older roots that appear shriveled and dry or are starting to sprout.
  • Always go for bottled prepared horseradish in the refrigerator.
  • You can store the unwashed horseradish root in a plastic bag in your refrigerator.
  • Although it is not recommended to freeze the whole pieces, grated horseradish can be frozen for as long as 6 months.

Like with all herbs, it is advisable to check with your doctor before using horseradish to treat any health condition.