Monday, February 21, 2011

Herb of the year

Horseradish root
Yep, that is the herb of the year.  For me, roast beef is just an excuse to eat horseradish. The most pungent horseradish I ever ate was at a Steer Roast in Buckingham, while visiting my sister. While sitting down to dinner and yakking about all manner of things, I took one unsuspecting bite of horseradish and my sinuses received a jolt that went straight to my eyeballs!   Every orifice watered!

Apparently,  once the root is scraped or grated, a volatile oil called allyl is produced as its glucoside sinigrin comes into contact with its enzyme myrosin. According to renowned herbalist Maude Grieves, it is only when these two substances meet that isothiocyanate, also contained in black mustard seed, is created: this accounts for the pungent, hot, yet subtly sweet taste of horseradish. 
According to Carol Little, a registered herbalist in private practice in Toronto.  Horseradish contains antibacterial, antibiotic, anti-parasitic, anti-anemic, and aperient properties. It is also a coronary vasodilator, a digestive, a diuretic, and an expectorant,  which means that it stimulates a number of body systems and can be used to aid mild circulatory problems, digestion, and water retention. I’ve used it to help to encourage timid appetites – a potent digestive elixir can be created by combining a small amount of horseradish with carminative herbs and apple cider vinegar. You can view her new blog at
According to Richard Mabey, author of The New Age Herbalist, “Horseradish is a powerful circulatory stimulant with antibiotic properties due to the mustard oil it contains. It is effective for lung and urinary infections because mustard oil is excreted through these channels.”

 A recent study by the University of Illinois shows that horseradish contains substantial quantities of glucosinolates – compounds shown to increase human resistance to cancer. The power of this ‘humble hot shot’ root is created chemically when it is grated or agitated to release constituents that, when put together, produce magic! An effective daily dose of horseradish can be as little as 1 gram or less than a teaspoon. (
Eat up - you'll be right in fashion.