The origin of horseradish is not known but it is thought to have originated in Eastern Europe. Pliny mentioned it as a medicinal herb but not as a food. It is an easy plant to grow and even a small piece of root left in the ground will produce more plants but it does not grow well near to grapevines for reasons not yet known.
Horseradish is low in calories and fat and contains a good amount of dietary fibre. The root also contains many volatile phyto-chemical compounds, which give its pungent character, such as allyl isothiocyanate, 3-butenyl isothiocyanate, 2-propenylglucosinlate (sinigrin), 2-pentyl isothiocyanate and phenylethyl isothiocyanate. It has been found that these compounds have been anti-oxidant as well as detoxification functions.
Horseradish has good amounts of vitamin C which is a powerful water soluble anti-oxidant. 100g fresh root provides 29mg or 41% of RDA of vitamin C. It also contains moderate amounts of copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, sodium and zinc plus small amounts of vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin) and vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) and vitamin B9 (foliate).
Horseradish is a potent gastric stimulant, increases appetite and aids in digestion. The volatile phytochemical compounds in the root stimulate salivary, gastric and intestinal glands to secrete digestive enzymes. Horseradish also helps to remove harmful free radicals from the body and protect it from cancers, inflammation and infections.
Horseradish has been proven in scientific studies to have powerful activity against various types of bacteria especially those that effect the bladder, lungs, sinuses and urinary system. Take a quarter of a teaspoon of the freshly grated root and hold it in the mouth until all the taste is gone. It will immediately start cutting the mucus loose from the sinuses to drain down the throat. This will relieve the pressure and help clear infection.