Horseradish (Armoracia rusticana, Cochlearia armoracia)
Natural Standard Bottom Line Monograph, Copyright © 2013 (www.naturalstandard.com). Commercial distribution prohibited. This monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. You should consult with a qualified healthcare provider before making decisions about therapies and/or health conditions.
While some complementary and alternative techniques have been studied scientifically, high-quality data regarding safety, effectiveness, and mechanism of action are limited or controversial for most therapies. Whenever possible, it is recommended that practitioners be licensed by a recognized professional organization that adheres to clearly published standards. In addition, before starting a new technique or engaging a practitioner, it is recommended that patients speak with their primary healthcare provider(s). Potential benefits, risks (including financial costs), and alternatives should be carefully considered. The below monograph is designed to provide historical background and an overview of clinically-oriented research, and neither advocates for or against the use of a particular therapy.
Allyl isothiocyanate, allylisothiocyanate, Armoracia lapathifolia Gilib., Armoracia rusticana, Armoracia rusticana Gaertner, Armoracia sativa Heller, Amoraciae Rusticanae Radix, Bohemian horseradish, Brassicaceae (family), Cochlearia armoracia, Cochlearia rusticana Lamarck, common horseradish, glucobrassicin, gluconasturtiin, glucosinolates, great raifort, horseradish peroxidase, horseradish peroxidase/indole-3-acetic acid, isoenzymes, isothiocyanates, Meerrettich (German), mountain radish, myrosinase, neoglucobrassicin, pepperrot, phosphatidylcholines, red cole, seiyowasabi (Japanese), sinigrin, thioglucoside conjugates, Western wasabi.
Note: This monograph does not include wasabi (Wasabia japonica), for which horseradish is a common substitute.
Note: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) defines horseradish as the root of Armoracia lapathifolia Gilib. This monograph uses the more common scientific name Armoracia rusticana, which is used by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Horseradish (Armoracia rusticana) is a hardy perennial plant of the Brassicaceae family, which includes mustard and cabbage. Large doses by mouth can cause gastrointestinal upset, bloody vomiting, diarrhea, and irritation of mucous membranes and the urinary tract. Horseradish may also provoke allergic reactions.
Although horseradish may be irritating, it is frequently used as a condiment or spice, especially for beef, sausages, and fish. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved horseradish (Armoracia lapathifolia Gilib.) as Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) as a seasoning, spice, and flavoring (the FDA currently accepts Armoracia lapathifolia as the binomial name for horseradish, although Armoracia rusticana is more commonly used and is the preferred name by the U.S. Department of Agriculture).
Traditionally, horseradish has been used for pain, rheumatism, and cancer. It has also been studied for bronchitis, sinusitis, and urinary tract infections, but additional study is needed before making firm recommendations.
These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
Horseradish may have antibiotic activity, and has been used in combination with other herbs to treat bronchitis. However, additional studies are needed that use horseradish as a single therapy before a strong recommendation can be made.
Horseradish may have antibiotic activity, and has been used in combination with other herbs to treat sinusitis. However, additional studies are needed that use horseradish as a single therapy before a strong recommendation can be made.
Urinary tract infection
Horseradish may have antibiotic activity, and has been used in combination with other herbs to treat urinary tract infections. However, additional studies are needed that use horseradish as a single therapy before a strong recommendation can be made.
*Key to grades:A: Strong scientific evidence for this use; B: Good scientific evidence for this use; C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use; D: Fair scientific evidence against this use (it may not work); F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likely does not work).
The below uses are based on tradition or scientific theories. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious and should be evaluated by a qualified health care professional.
Abortion, allergies, anodyne (pain-reliever), antibiotic, anticoagulant (blood thinner), antihypertensive (blood pressure-lowering), anti-inflammatory, antimutagenic, arthritis, blood cleanser, bruises, cancer, carminative (relieves gas), childbirth (expelling afterbirth), colic, cough, diaphoretic (promotes sweating), digestive, diuretic (increases urine flow), dropsy (swelling), edema (swelling), emetic (induces vomiting), expectorant (encourages coughing up of mucous), fever, food uses, gallbladder disorders, gout (foot inflammation), headaches, hoarseness, infections, inflammation, intestinal worms (in children), lower back pain, muscle aches, neuralgia (facial nerve pain), paralysis, pleurisy (lung inflammation), respiratory disorders, rheumatism (painful disorder of the joints, muscle, or connective tissue), saliva stimulant, sciatica (irritation of the sciatic nerve resulting in pain or tingling running down the inside of the leg), scurvy, skin conditions (rubefacient), skin fairness, stimulant, tuberculosis, urinary stones, wounds.
The below doses are based on scientific research, publications, traditional use, or expert opinion. Many herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested, and safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients, even within the same brand. The below doses may not apply to all products. You should read product labels, and discuss doses with a qualified healthcare provider before starting therapy.
Adults (over 18 years old)
There is no proven safe or effective medicinal dose of horseradish in adults.
Children (under 18 years old)
There is no proven safe or effective medicinal dose of horseradish in children.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.
Avoid in individuals with a known allergy or hypersensitivity to horseradish (Armoracia rusticana), its constituents, or members of the Brassicaceae family. Large doses taken by mouth may provoke allergic reactions.
Side Effects and Warnings
Horseradish is likely safe when the root is used in food amounts. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved horseradish as Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) as a seasoning, spice, and flavoring.
There are few reported adverse effects associated with horseradish. Possible side effects include: abortion, aggravated stomach ulcers, esophageal irritation or other stomach conditions, allergic reactions, blistering, bloody vomiting, burning pain at the epigastrium, depressed thyroid function, diarrhea, diuretic, gastrointestinal upset, irritated mouth, pharynx, esophagus and stomach, irritation of mucous membranes and the urinary tract, nausea, sinus and eye irritation, skin irritation, stimulated bladder, stimulation of the stomach and salivation, violent sneezing, vomiting, and worsened kidney conditions.
Use cautiously in patients with low blood pressure or taking antihypertensives, as horseradish in medicinal amounts may lower blood pressure.
Use cautiously in patients taking anti-inflammatory agents, as horseradish may inhibit COX-1 enzymes.
Use cautiously in patients undergoing treatment for cancer, as horseradish and horseradish combined with indole-3-acetic acid may have antineoplastic (anticancer) activity.
Use cautiously in patients with thyroid disorders or taking thyroid hormones, as medicinal amounts of horseradish may interact with thyroid medications.
Avoid medicinal amounts of horseradish in patients who are pregnant or breastfeeding, as glucosinolates from horseradish are considered a toxin that can be excreted through breast milk and may pose a toxicity hazard.
Use cautiously in patients with kidney disorders, kidney inflammation, gastrointestinal conditions, or ulcers, as horseradish may have strong diuretic (increased urination) effects.
Use cautiously in patients with stomach ulcers.
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
Avoid if pregnant or breastfeeding. Horseradish has been used to induce abortion. Certain chemicals, such as glucosinolates, from horseradish are considered toxins that can be excreted through breast milk and may pose a toxicity hazard.
Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.
Interactions with Drugs
Horseradish may have antibiotic activity. Use cautiously with antibiotics, due to additive effects.
Horseradish may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with drugs that increase the risk of bleeding. Some examples include aspirin, anticoagulants ("blood thinners") such as warfarin (Coumadin®) or heparin, anti-platelet drugs such as clopidogrel (Plavix®), and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) such as ibuprofen (Motrin®, Advil®) or naproxen (Naprosyn®, Aleve®).
Horseradish in medicinal amounts may have hypotensive (blood pressure-lowering) activity. Use cautiously with blood pressure medications.
Horseradish may inhibit COX-1 enzymes. Use cautiously with anti-inflammatory agents, due to possible additive effects.
Horseradish may have antineoplastic activity. Use cautiously with anticancer medications, due to possible additive effects.
Horseradish root may have oxidative activity; use cautiously with other antioxidants, due to possible additive effects.
Medicinal amounts of horseradish may interact with thyroid medications.
Horseradish may have strong diuretic (increased urination) effects.
Medicinal amounts of horseradish may interact with thyroid medications; use cautiously.
Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements
Horseradish may have antibiotic activity. Use cautiously with antibacterial herbs and supplements, due to possible additive effects.
Horseradish may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with herbs and supplements that are believed to increase the risk of bleeding. Multiple cases of bleeding have been reported with the use of Ginkgo biloba, and fewer cases with garlic and saw palmetto.
Horseradish may inhibit COX-1 enzymes. Use cautiously with anti-inflammatory herbs and supplements.
Horseradish may have antineoplastic activity. Use cautiously with anticancer herbs or supplements.
Horseradish root may have oxidative activity. Use cautiously with herbs or supplements with antioxidant activity.
Horseradish may have strong diuretic effects. Horseradish may also have beneficial effects when taken with the phytohormone, indole-3-acetic acid, although human evidence is lacking in this area.
Horseradish in medicinal amounts may have hypotensive (blood pressure-lowering) activity; use cautiously with blood pressure medications.
Horseradish contains tannins and vitamin C, which may have additive effects when taken with other tannin-containing herbs or vitamin C supplements.
Medicinal amounts of horseradish may interact with thyroid medications; use cautiously.
This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).
Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.
Agabeili RA, Kasimova TE, Alekperov UK. [Antimutagenic activity of plant extracts from Armoracia rusticana, Ficus carica and Zea mays and peroxidase in eukaryotic cells]. Tsitol.Genet. 2004;38(2):40-45. View Abstract
Agabeili RA, Kasimova TE. [Antimutagenic activity of Armoracia rusticana, Zea mays and Ficus carica plant extracts and their mixture]. Tsitol.Genet. 2005;39(3):75-79. View Abstract
Conaway CC, Yang YM, Chung FL. Isothiocyanates as cancer chemopreventive agents: their biological activities and metabolism in rodents and humans. Curr Drug Metab 2002;3(3):233-255. View Abstract
Goos KH, Albrecht U, Schneider B. [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 comparison with other treatments in the daily practice/results of a prospective cohort study]. Arzneimittelforschung 2006;56(3):249-257. View Abstract
Govere EM, Tonegawa M, Bruns MA, et al. Using minced horseradish roots and peroxides for the deodorization of swine manure: a pilot scale study. Bioresour.Technol 2007;98(6):1191-1198. View Abstract
Kawaoka A, Matsunaga E, Endo S, et al. Ectopic expression of a horseradish peroxidase enhances growth rate and increases oxidative stress resistance in hybrid aspen. Plant Physiol 2003;132(3):1177-1185. View Abstract
Li X, Kushad MM. Purification and characterization of myrosinase from horseradish (Armoracia rusticana) roots. Plant Physiol Biochem 2005;43(6):503-511. View Abstract
Luczaj L, Szymanski WM. Wild vascular plants gathered for consumption in the Polish countryside: a review. J Ethnobiol.Ethnomedicine. 2007;3:17. View Abstract
Park IK, Choi KS, Kim DH, et al. Fumigant activity of plant essential oils and components from horseradish (Armoracia rusticana), anise (Pimpinella anisum) and garlic (Allium sativum) oils against Lycoriella ingenua (Diptera: Sciaridae). Pest.Manag.Sci 2006;62(8):723-728. View Abstract
Patterson AV, Saunders MP, Greco O. Prodrugs in genetic chemoradiotherapy. Curr Pharm Des 2003;9(26):2131-2154. View Abstract
Sakuyama H, Endo Y, Fujimoto K, et al. Oxidative degradation of alkylphenols by horseradish peroxidase. J Biosci.Bioeng. 2003;96(3):227-231. View Abstract
Tonegawa M, Dec J, Bollag JM. Use of additives to enhance the removal of phenols from water treated with horseradish and hydrogen peroxide. J Environ.Qual. 2003;32(4):1222-1227. View Abstract
Veitch NC. Horseradish peroxidase: a modern view of a classic enzyme. Phytochemistry 2004;65(3):249-259. View Abstract
Weil MJ, Zhang Y, Nair MG. Colon cancer proliferating desulfosinigrin in wasabi (Wasabia japonica). Nutr Cancer 2004;48(2):207-213. View Abstract
Weil MJ, Zhang Y, Nair MG. Tumor cell proliferation and cyclooxygenase inhibitory constituents in horseradish (Armoracia rusticana) and Wasabi (Wasabia japonica). J Agric Food Chem 3-9-2005;53(5):1440-1444. View Abstract
Copyright © 2013 Natural Standard (www.naturalstandard.com)
The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.
March 22, 2017