Herb Focus: Horseradish
Today, horseradish is most commonly known as a condiment or an ingredient when cooking. It's known for it's sharp mustard like taste. The condiment is most commonly made using fresh grated horseradish root and combining it with vinegar or mayonaise. It's amazing on roast beef by the way. :) For centuries though this herb was actually used as a medicine. It is unclear where horseradish originates but it is believed to be native to eastern Europe and western Asia. In the early 1500's it was actually called "red cole" in England and could be found growing wild in the country. In the 1600's it became a condiment in England, and then it was only for those who had "strong stomachs".
Fresh horse radish root has been used as an internal and external medicine for centuries. The main active ingrediant in horseradish root is allylisothiocyanate, otherwise known as mustard oil. It also contains an antibiotic and vitamin C.
External Uses: If you mix horseradish with a bit of water you can apply it as a heat-producing pain reliever. You can also combine it with herbs to make an energizing herbal bath.
Internal Uses: Horseradish can be used to treat kidney conditions. It is also a powerful diuretic.
Cooking: Use it with roast beef, fish, sausages, chicken, egg salads, and potatoes just to name a few. You can add a few leaves from the plant to your salad.
If you choose to grow this herb, take care where you plant it as it can spread everywhere. You will get the best results in rich organic soil. You want to try to plant it in an area free of stones since the main portion of this herb you will be using is the root. It's not a bad idea to plant it in a container with organic soil, therefore it will grow best and be contained. You plant horseradish as early in the spring as possible. It can be harvested late fall. The root will stay fresh for months in a crisper drawer of your refridgerator.
Recipe to Use as Medicine
- 1 oz chopped fresh horseradish
- 1/2 ounce bruised mustard seed
- 1 pint boiling water.
Let the horseradish and mustard seed soak in the water in a covered pot for 4 hours. Strain it.
Take 3 tablespoons three times a day. (When you first use this start with just a teaspoon to make sure your stomach will handle it. You can gradually increase it)