Horseradish (Allium sativum) is a common weed found growing wild all over the world. It grows in grassy areas, along roadsides and even in gardens. Some varieties are edible while others have toxic properties such as poison ivy or poison oak. They cause many problems for humans because they grow quickly and can cover large areas within days. They also attract bees which pollinate our crops causing severe damage to agriculture worldwide!
The poisonous part of horseradish plants is their leaves. These leaves contain chemicals called thiocyanates which act like insecticides. When eaten by animals, these chemicals cause poisoning. Animals ingesting the plant die from the effects of the poisons within it.
Humans can suffer similar symptoms if they eat them accidentally or intentionally!
In fact, there are several different species of horseradish plants and each one produces its own particular chemical compound when crushed or chewed. The most toxic ones are known as oxalic acid and cyanogenic glycosides. Eating any of these compounds will result in death. However, the toxicity of some other compounds is less well understood.
It was once thought that eating only the poisonous parts would kill you, but recent research suggests otherwise. If you do decide to try eating one of these plants, make sure you don’t chew it too hard or swallow it whole! You could choke on your own saliva!
It is said that the roots, leaves and stems of the plant are all equally poisonous. The leaves can be eaten in small quantities if cooked, but they are still known to cause vomiting and diarrhea. Despite this, some people still consume them as a source of natural pesticides. They prevent snails and slugs from eating your crops!
It may surprise you to learn that horseradish plants have some surprising health benefits. In recent years, more and more people have been turning to herbal medicines in place of prescription drugs. Horseradish might be the next “it” thing if it gets added into the mainstream!
As a Cancer Treatment
Some studies have shown that eating large amounts of the leaves can help prevent cancer. Eating small amounts of the root on a regular basis can stop the spread of cancer cells in the human body. It also prevents new ones from forming!
As an Antibacterial
Horseradish plants can stop the growth of bacteria on contact. Taking the right dosage of the chemical compound can destroy the bacteria in your body and prevent infections from ever occurring.
As a Pain Reliever
The same compound that helps against bacteria is also great for killing pain. It can be used to relieve the pain caused by arthritis, menstrual cramps and even headaches caused by tension.
As a Treatment For Fungal Infections
Many plants can be used to treat fungal infections. Kombucha, apple cider vinegar and even coconut oil have all been known to kill external fungal infections on the skin. Horseradish is no different! Recent studies show that it can also help prevent or kill internal fungal infections too.
This is especially handy for people who suffer from candida, a yeast infection that can cause many problems when left untreated.
As an anti-inflammatory
Many herbal medicines can help treat inflammation. The compounds in horseradish have been shown to help stop or reverse the inflammation caused by conditions such as arthritis.
As a Digestive Aid
Eating the leaves of the plant can help with digestion and kill off bad bacteria in your stomach and intestines. This stops nausea, vomiting, gas, diarrhea and other symptoms of digestive problems.
As an Expectorant
Horseradish is also known to help with coughing, especially when caused by respiratory infections. It helps to bring up mucus and other phlegm from your lungs and bronchii. This can help prevent secondary infections from taking hold in your lungs.
As an Astringent
Horseradish can be used to close up wounds and remove shiny or dead skin cells. It can also be used to tighten the skin on your face and remove wrinkles.
As a Stimulant
Eating the roots of the plant can increase your heart rate and blood pressure. This can be helpful if you suffer from low blood pressure or are in need of an adrenaline rush!
As an Antidepressant
Some chemicals in horseradish have been shown to help people with mild cases of depression or the “blues”. Unlike most pharmaceutical antidepressants, this treatment has no severe side effects.
Some studies have shown that applying a horseradish and water solution can keep ticks away. This is useful if you’re going hiking or camping in an area known to carry the threat of Lyme disease.
Recent research has shown that this humble root can also help to regulate blood sugar and can even be used as a chelation agent to remove toxic metals from the human body.
How to Harvest
Your horseradish plant is ready to be harvested when it is about 2-feet tall. Be careful when digging up the root so that you don’t damage it. Once you have dug up the entire plant, carefully remove all leaves and dry them for use later.
Once it is clean, chop the root into small pieces and place them onto a baking tray. Place the tray into an oven that has been preheated to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and leave it there for about 40 minutes.
Remove the tray and allow it to cool before transferring the horseradish to an airtight glass jar.
You can begin to harvest the leaves of your plant once it is at least a few inches tall. Snip off the leaves as close to the base as possible. Dry them thoroughly and store them in an airtight jar ready for use later on.
Harvest the seeds in the same way once they have turned a dark brown color and you see them falling off naturally. Place them into an airtight container and leave them to dry out further. Once they are ready, they should easily shatter under slight pressure.
Once it’s dried, you can grind the seeds into a fine powder. This is the raw form of the horseradish that you will need for most recipes.
You can also place the roots into a food processor and blend them up. This should give you a liquid paste that you can then place onto a drying tray. Place the tray into a food dehydrator and leave it there until all of the moisture has been removed.
This is known as prepared horseradish and it is much more potent than the other forms of the plant. You can store it in the fridge for several months before using it.
If you want to grow your own roots to harvest, plant the seeds about 1 inch under the soil in well-draining soil. They will need about 70 days to fully mature and be ready for harvesting.
These plants grow best in well-draining soils that are rich in nutrients. They can be grown from seed which should be sown 1 inch under the soil and watered frequently to help prevent them from drying out.
They require sunlight to grow and should be planted out into their permanent positions during the spring once there is no longer any risk of frost. They can grow quite large, so it’s best to allow at least 2 feet between each plant.
It’s important to keep an eye on the soil and feed it every few weeks with some fertilizer. This will help the plants to grow big and strong.
Once fully grown, the roots should be harvested during the fall and stored for use throughout the winter months.
If pots are used, they can be transplanted into the ground once they are about 6 inches tall. Just be sure to wait until there is no longer any risk of frost in your area and feed the plants every few weeks.
Roots should be harvested from fall through to early spring.
Harvest the leaves any time after the plant has grown.
Horseradish can cause a burning sensation if it comes into contact with your skin. It can also irritate your eyes. Some people can become light-headed when they smell horseradish, so you should exercise caution when handling this product.
It is advised that you wear gloves and goggles when you are working with this herb to avoid any accidents that could cause you harm.
Even the scent of the horseradish can burn your eyes and nose, so make sure you are working in a well-ventilated area.
The fumes given off by the roots when they are grated can be harmful, so it is advised that you grate them outside rather than over your kitchen sink.
Once prepared, it is safe to use this product. It is recommended that you do not touch your eyes after handling horseradish.
Benefits of Horseradish
Horseradish is commonly used as a condiment and is extensively used in cooking. It has also been used in traditional medicine for centuries as a remedy for colds, headaches, stomach disorders, and joint pain.
It is rich in vitamins and minerals and contains high levels of antioxidants which are known to help boost your immune system.
It is most commonly used to clear sinuses and help you to breathe more easily. It can also be used to relieve the pain of arthritis by applying it directly to the skin or using it as a poultice to relieve the pain.
It can be used as an antiseptic to clean wounds and soothe the pain. It is also known to help reduce the risk of blood clots and helps to prevent asthma attacks.
It has been used in traditional medicine as a way of increasing energy and to give you a boost when feeling tired or low on energy.
It is considered to be fat-free, cholesterol-free and sodium-free.
Sources & references used in this article:
Growth and regeneration of field horsetail (Equisetum arvense) by D Cloutier, AK Watson – Weed Science, 1985 – JSTOR
Chemical control of field horsetail by PB Hoyt, AC Carder – Weeds, 1962 – cambridge.org
Chemical control of field horsetail (Equisetum arvense) by TK James, A Rahman – New Zealand Plant Protection, 2010 – nzpps.org