Horseradish (Armoracia rusticana) is one of the most important medicinal plants in our latitudes. Science is discovering more and more positive properties for health Photo: Getty Images
By Friederike Ostermeyer | 21. February 2021, 08:14
Delicious, spicy, refreshing – in traditional German cuisine the spicy root cannot be missing. Horseradish is medicinal plant of the year 2021 – for good reason. FITBOOK asked an expert how healthy horseradish really is and what it can do for our well-being.
Even the poet Goethe is said to have been crazy about horseradish. More precisely, after his favorite dish Tafelspitz – boiled beef served with a delicious horseradish sauce. A few centuries earlier, it was not so much taste that interested the polymath Hildegard von Bingen. She was rather concerned with the effect of horseradish as a medicinal plant. She used it against persistent coughs, digestive problems, poisoning and snakebites – successfully, as we know today.
In fact, horseradish is much more than a tasty kitchen ingredient. It is a plant with powerful healing properties, knows Dr. Ursula Stumpf, pharmacist and herbal expert. "I advise everyone to always have a piece of the root on hand in the refrigerator," she tells FITBOOK.
Mustard oil glycosides – the secret of the medicinal plant horseradish
"Like many cruciferous vegetables, horseradish contains so-called mustard oil glycosides. And a considerable amount of them. However, these are initially inactive," knows the author of the book "Our medicinal herbs – determine and use". These healing agents cavort in one part of the cells, while in another part of the cells the enzyme myrosinase "lives". "Cutting or rubbing brings the two substances into contact with each other, and only then are the healing mustard oils released." An effect that is noticeable through tears in the eyes and sharpness (the stronger, the more effective) in the throat area. Now the healing power is fully activated. Thus already every breath is a small medicine unit.
Horseradish renders viruses and bacteria harmless
Once inhaled – the very brave can also eat half a teaspoon of freshly grated horseradish – the "awakened" mustard oil glycosides immediately take effect in the sinuses, mouth and throat. "They have the ability to bind to the proteins of viruses, bacteria and fungi. This changes their outer structure so that the pathogens can no longer enter human cells."An immediate effect that is noticeable through better breathing, swollen mucous membranes and a generally clean, "cleaned" feeling in the head.
Incidentally, the aforementioned structural change is accompanied by another phenomenon: as the mustard oils destroy the protective biofilm of the pathogens, their camouflage mode, which has made them resistant to certain antibiotics, disappears at the same time. In current studies, research is placing great hope in the ingredients of horseradish, among other things, because the problem with multi-resistant germs is taking on increasingly dramatic proportions.
Does horseradish also help against coronaviruses?
"Of course, there are no studies on this yet," notes Stumpf. But she doesn't think it's far-fetched that research is currently being done on the subject. "Indeed, horseradish can easily take on flu viruses," she knows. In 2006, for example, a German research team was able to prove that the mustard oil glycosides in question were able to inhibit the insidious H1N1 flu viruses by 90 percent. "What is known: people who harvest and process horseradish in the factories and in the fields get through the year almost free of colds. Simply because they inhale the vapors."
Horseradish promotes regeneration of the lungs of ex-smokers
What is inhaled must also be exhaled again. can be reduced. "After the work is done, the active ingredients are excreted again through the lungs, which additionally cleanses the alveoli and supports their regeneration," explains the expert. That brings not only cold-plagued respiratory organs again up to speed, but comes also ex-smokers to advantage. When it comes to inhaling vapors for them, henceforth only the healing ones of horseradish.
Relief from bladder and urinary tract infections
Another mustard oil excretory organ is the kidney, so the healing effects of horseradish are also felt in the urinary tract. "Already two to three hours after ingestion, the metabolites are detectable in urine. A sign that the ingredients from the horseradish were absorbed and also worked." Since many medicines against cystitis contain horseradish extracts anyway, Stumpf recommends that sufferers clarify additional self-therapy with a doctor beforehand.
Cultivation, harvest and season of horseradish
Winter time is horseradish time. Anyone who discovers fresh roots on the vegetable shelf now should definitely grab them. There is no need to rush consumption, says Stumpf. "Wrapped in a damp cloth and stored in the refrigerator, they keep fresh for up to a year."Who has a garden, can dig in March seeds or roots. "The plant is so uncomplicated that it thrives in many places along the way." Pretty to look at it is also. Besides, everything is edible, even the flowers and leaves. As a healthy medicinal plant, the horseradish makes it therefore conceivably simple for hobby gardeners.