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Krzysztof Ziarnek, Kenraiz, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons 

Horseradish (Armoracia rusticana)

Horseradish, a hardy perennial plant known for the spicy flavor of the root, originated in eastern Europe (Kroener & Buettner, 2017). It can grow up to five feet tall, has bright green leaves that can grow up to three feet wide, and spreads through rhizomes. It also produces four-petaled white flowers. Records of horseradish cultivation date back to ancient Greece, and was discussed both by Dioscorides and in Pliny’s Natural History (Courter & Rhodes, 1969).  

Historical Use

Excerpt from Culpepper’s English Physician, published in 1789. This book available in the John R. Martin Rare Book Room at Hardin Library.

According to Culpepper’s English Physician (1789), Horseradish was used to treat scurvy, worms, sciatica, painful joints and “hard swellings of the liver and spleen.”  

Current Use

The plant contains an enzyme known as horseradish peroxidase, which is used commercially in biochemistry applications, such as immunoassays (Nunavath et al., 2016). While evidence is limited, several studies found that horseradish shows promise in treating acute sinusitis, acute bronchitis, and acute urinary tract infection, particularly for strains of infection resistant to antibiotics (Goos et al., 2006; Mutters et al., 2018). 

Latest Research


Courter, J., & Rhodes, A. (1969). Historical notes on horseradish. Economic Botany, 23(2), 156-164.  

Goos, K.-H., Albrecht, U., & Schneider, B. (2006). [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]. Arzneimittel-Forschung56(3), 249–257. 

Kroener, E.-M., & Buettner, A. (2017). Unravelling important odorants in horseradish (Armoracia rusticana). Food Chemistry232, 455–465. 

Mutters, N. T., Mampel, A., Kropidlowski, R., Biehler, K., Günther, F., Bălu, I., Malek, V., & Frank, U. (2018). Treating urinary tract infections due to MDR E. coli with Isothiocyanates – a phytotherapeutic alternative to antibiotics? Fitoterapia129, 237–240. 

Nunavath, H., Banoth, C., Talluri, V. R., & Bhukya, B. (2016). An analysis of horseradish peroxidase enzyme for effluent treatment. Bioinformation12(6), 318–323.