What Is Horseradish?

It may lower inflammation, heal wounds, and more

Horseradish root, capsules, tincture, and extract

Verywell / Anastasia Tretiak 

Horseradish is not just a spicy condiment. The herbal supplement, horseradish, Armoracia rusticana, is an annual herb in the Brassicaceae family. Horseradish has been used traditionally, for its medicinal properties, for many years.

The horseradish plant is native to Eastern Europe. Known for its pungent odor it is less known for its traditional uses. The component in horseradish known to cause this familiar odor is also suggested to be the reason behind many of the traditional benefits attributed to the plant.

Horseradish contains several nutrients such as Vitamins C and B1, iron, calcium, magnesium and potassium. The main component is sinigrin.

This article discusses the uses of horseradish. In addition, it also looks at the components of horseradish and any precautions to its use.

Dietary supplements are not regulated in the United States, meaning the FDA does not approve them for safety and effectiveness before products are marketed. When possible, choose a supplement that has been tested by a trusted third party, such as USP, ConsumerLabs, or NSF. However, even if supplements are thir0party tested, that doesn't mean that they are necessarily safe for all or effective in general. It is important to talk to your healthcare provider about any supplement you plan to take and to check in about any potential interactions with other supplements or medications.

Supplement Facts

  • Active Ingredient(s): Glycosides, flavonoids
  • Alternate Names(s): Chren, kren, red cole
  • Legal Status: Generally recognized as safe (GRAS)
  • Suggested Dose: 3-4 grams daily; dried root take 20 grams per day; infusion and as a syrup, 2-gram doses several times per day; tincture take 2-4 grams of the dried equivalent per day.
  • Safety Considerations: Hypothyroidism, peptic ulcers, gastritis, kidney disease, pregnancy, breastfeeding, and children under 4 years of age

Uses of Horseradish

Supplement use should be individualized and vetted by a healthcare professional, such as a registered dietitian, pharmacist, or doctor. No supplement is intended to treat, cure, or prevent disease.

Horseradish contains vitamins C and B1, iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and sinigrin. Also present in horseradish are flavonoids. Besides being used as a table condiment, these components in horseradish may explain the traditional uses of horseradish.

Antibacterial

Horseradish has also been used in traditional medicine as an antibacterial. With the increased resistance to antibiotics, scientists are searching for new ways to respond to bacteria's potential effects on the human body. For this reason, they have started studying the components (chemicals) from the horseradish plant.

The sinigrin found in horseradish releases allyl isothiocyanate, a sulphur-containing mustard oil. It is the activity of the isothiocyanates that acts against bacteria such as Escherichia coli. This has motivated the need to further study the activity of horseradish and its effects on bacteria.

Early studies show that horseradish may have antibacterial properties. But, again, the data is not sufficient to support the claims. More clinical studies (studies in humans) are necessary to produce the data needed to support these statements.

Urinary Tract Infection

Urinary tract infections are common infections affecting all ages and genders. Managing this illness is essential due to its widespread impact.

The activity of an isothiocyanate (a chemical) may promote the antimicrobial (germ-killing) activity of the horseradish plant. These studies, too, are in the early stages. Human data is needed to support these claims.

Cancer

Clinical (human) studies have not been done to study the use of the horseradish plant for cancer.

Sinigrin, a result of the degradation of glucosinolates, has been shown to cause death in some cancer cells. Though these early results are promising, no clinical data exists to support these claims.

As with most supplements, more research is necessary to support the claims of traditional uses for horseradish. Besides those listed above, other traditional uses for horseradish include:

What Are the Side Effects of Horseradish?

Horseradish comes with several possible side effects, which you should be aware of. The majority of the side effects are common side effects.

Common Side Effects

  • Stomach upset
  • Vomiting
  • Excessive sweating
  • Irritation or burning of the skin/eyes

Severe Side Effects

Severe side effects of horseradish are rare. Clinical data about the side effects of horseradish are lacking. As with any supplement, there is a risk of an allergic reaction. Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction that can be life-threatening.

If you should experience any change in condition when using horseradish, consult with your healthcare provider.

Precautions

While it is generally safe to use horseradish, some areas require caution. People with hypothyroidism, peptic ulcers, gastritis, and kidney disease are not recommended to use horseradish. If you have any of these conditions, it would be best to speak with your healthcare provider about your individual use of horseradish.

It is also not recommended to use horseradish at therapeutic levels during pregnancy or breastfeeding. It's also not recommended for use by children under four years old.

Dosage: How Much Horseradish Should I Take?

Always speak with a healthcare provider before taking a supplement to ensure that the supplement and dosage are appropriate for your individual needs.

Horseradish can come in many different forms. Follow the label recommendations when taking any of the forms.

The fresh root of horseradish should be taken before meals. Take 3-4 grams daily. The dried root can be taken in 20 grams per day. As an infusion and syrup, horseradish can be taken in 2-gram doses several times per day. Horseradish can be prepared in a tincture. Take 2-4 grams of the dried equivalent per day as a tincture.

What Happens if I Take Too Much Horseradish?

Horseradish is considered generally safe. But sometimes too much of a good thing is not really good at all. Horseradish can be toxic if eaten in high quantities. It is best to take small quantities when using in this condiment or supplement.

The toxic part of the plant can be found in the root. It is the glucosinolates found in the root that are the culprits of this risk of toxicity. When eaten in high quantities it can cause profuse sweating, stomach upset, weakness, and disorientation.

Should you being to experience any of these symptoms when using horseradish, seek medical help immediately.

Interactions

There are no recent reports of horseradish having any drug interactions. There is mention that horseradish may interact with thyroid medications such as levothyroxine because of the possibility of decreasing thyroid activity.

Because of this uncertainty, if you take levothyroxine, it is best to speak with your healthcare provider before using horseradish.

It is essential to carefully read a supplement's ingredient list and nutrition facts panel to know which ingredients and how much of each ingredient is included. Please review this supplement label with your healthcare provider to discuss potential interactions with foods, other supplements, and medications.

How to Store Horseradish

Follow all storage and discard recommendations found on the supplement label. Fresh horseradish is best stored in the refrigerator. When the supplement is fresh, keeping it in the refrigerator will minimize the loss of flavor and maintain its quality.

Horseradish is available in freeze-dried and dehydrated forms. In these forms, follow the recommendations for storage found on the supplement label.

Similar Supplements

Several supplements are used to address urinary tract infections. Horseradish, traditionally used to address urinary tract infections, is similar to supplements such as:

  • Watercress (Nasturtium Officinale)
  • Flagroot (Acorus calamus)
  • Caper (Capparis spinosa)
  • Siamese-ginger (Alpinia galanga)

When taking horseradish, it is best to speak with your healthcare provider about taking it along with any of the above supplements.

Horseradish root
Verywell / Anastasia Tretiak

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Why is horseradish spicy?

    Horseradish contains sinigrin. It is the hydrolysis of sinigrin that creates the spicy taste of horseradish.

  • Can I use horseradish if I am taking an anti-hypertensive (blood pressure lowering) drug?

    Horseradish may decrease blood pressure, but little clinical (human) data exists to support this claim. However, because of its similar action to anti-hypertensive drugs, it is recommended that you speak with your healthcare provider before using horseradish while taking anti-hypertensive drugs.

  • Is horseradish good for your stomach?

    There is mention of the traditional use of horseradish for gastrointestinal issues. But it is not specified for use of stomach upset. On the contrary, consuming too much horseradish may cause stomach pain and vomiting.

Sources of Horseradish and What to Look For

Horseradish can be found in many forms. It is available as a spicy food condiment or as a supplement. The best way to receive the benefits of horseradish is through a supplemental form.

Horseradish Supplements

Horseradish supplement is available in many forms. The actual root, of which most supplements are made, can be purchased at grocery stores.

The supplement can be found as a tincture, infusion, or syrup. These preparations are likely higher in concentration than you would receive from just increasing horseradish in your diet naturally.

Summary

The horseradish condiment that may be on your kitchen table has more uses than spicing things up. Traditional medicine has used horseradish to act on many health issues from infections to inflammation. Early studies on some of these traditional uses may be promising, but more data from research in humans is needed to support the traditional uses of horseradish.

11 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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Additional Reading

By Dawn Sheldon, RN
Dawn Sheldon, RN, is a registered nurse and health writer. She is passionate about sharing her knowledge and empowering others.