Plant Profiler

Horseradish (Armoracia rusticana)

Synonyms / Common Names / Related Links
Allyl isothiocyanate, allylisothiocyanate, Armoracia lapathifolia Gilib., Armoracia rusticana, Armoracia rusticana Gaertner, Armoracia sativa Heller, Amoraciae Rusticanae Radix, Bohemian horseradish, Brassicaceae (family), Cochlearia armoracia, Cochlearia rusticana Lamarck, common horseradish, glucobrassicin, gluconasturtiin, glucosinolates, great raifort, horseradish peroxidase, horseradish peroxidase/indole-3-acetic acid, isoenzymes, isothiocyanates, Meerrettich (German), mountain radish, myrosinase, neoglucobrassicin, pepperrot, phosphatidylcholines, red cole, seiyowasabi (Japanese), sinigrin, thioglucoside conjugates, Western wasabi.
Combination product example: Angocin® Anti-Infekt N (nasturtium herb and horseradish root).
Note: This monograph does not include (Wasabia japonica), for which horseradish is a common substitute.
Note: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) defines horseradish as the root of Armoracia lapathifolia Gilib. This monograph uses the more common scientific name Armoracia rusticana, which is used by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Mechanism of Action
  • Constituents: One of the most researched constituents of horseradish is horseradish peroxidase.3,23 Other horseradish constituents include glucosinolates (sinigrin, glucobrassicin, neoglucobrassicin, and gluconasturtiin), myrosinase, plastoquinone-9, 6-O-acyl-beta-d-glucosyl-beta-sitosterol, 1,2-dilinolenoyl-3-galactosylglycerol, 3-acyl-sitosterols, and phosphatidylcholines.9,20,24,1 When horseradish cells are damaged by cutting, grating, or chewing, enzymes convert sinigrin to allyl isothiocyanate (mustard oil).
  • According to secondary sources, horseradish leaves contain 3-O-beta-D-glucosyl-beta-D-kaempferol-xyloside; 3-O-beta-D-glucosyl-beta-D-quercetin-xyloside; 3-O-beta-D-kaempferol-glucoside; 3-O-beta-D-quercetin- glucoside; bioside; kaempferol; quercetin; and rutoside. The seeds contain D-2-butylisothiocyanate; glucocochlearin; glucoconringiin; glucoputranjivin; and sinapin. The roots contain a bitter resin; acetate; acetic acid; albumen; alloxurbasen; aluminum (4-30ppm); amylase; arginine; arsenic (0.01-0.04ppm); ascorbic acid (220-3,189 ppm); ash (14,000-87,000ppm); asparagine; boron (6-27ppm); bromine (5-19ppm); cadmium (0.08-0.5ppm); calcium (240-5,512ppm); calcium sulfate; carbohydrates (155,000-783,000ppm); chromium (0.02-0.15ppm); cobalt (0.005-0.08ppm); copper (2-9ppm); EO (1,460-2,160ppm); fat (2,000-12,000ppm); fiber (14,000-94,000ppm); fluorine; fructose; gentisic acid (15ppm); glucose; inverstase; iron (12-106ppm); lead (0.02-0.15ppm); lignin; lipase; magnesium (420-1,690ppm); manganese (4-19ppm); mercury; molybdenum; myrosin; niacin (4-20ppm); nickel (0.2-1.2ppm); nitrogen (8,600-38,461ppm); P-hydroxy-benzoic-acid (14ppm); pectin; peroxidase; phenylethyl-isothiocyanate (292-540ppm); phenylpropyl-isothiocyanate; phosphatase; phosphorus (640-5,000ppm); potassium (5,640-31,150ppm); protease; protein (27,000-136,000ppm); riboflavin (1-4ppm); rubidium (0.9-4.6ppm); selenium (0.001-0.01ppm); silicon (5-19ppm); sinigrin; sodium (80-315ppm); sulfur (1,800-10,000ppm); thiamin (3ppm); vanillic acid (45ppm); water (740,000-802,000ppm); and zinc (13-54ppm). Other horseradish constituents are ascorbic acid (1,220-18,200ppm); ash (200,000 ppm); butylisothiocyanate (188-2,867ppm); EO (200-3,050ppm); isopropylisothiocyanate; limonene; raphanin; sinapic acid; tannin; and vitamin C (177.9mg/100g).
  • Antibacterial activity: Several early in vitro studies found that some horseradish constituents may have antibiotic activity.14,15,16 One such constituent is allyl isothiocyante, which has been shown to inhibit the growth of food pathogens.11 In a prospective cohort study conducted by Goos et al., patients (age of four years or older) with acute sinusitis, bronchitis, or urinary tract infections (UTI) treated with Angocin® Anti-Infekt N (nasturtium herb and horseradish root) had similar decreases in symptom severity as the control patients taking standard antibiotic therapy.21
  • Anticancer activity: Horseradish peroxidase, found in horseradish root, has activated the potential chemotherapeutic agent indole-3-acetic acid in vitro.3,4,5,6,7,8 Horseradish also contains isothiocyanates, which may be chemopreventive agents for specific human cancers.9 In two similar in vitro studies by the same authors, 1,2-dilinolenoyl-3-galactosylglycerol isolated from horseradish rhizomes dose-dependently inhibited the proliferation of colon cancer cells (HCT-116) and lung cancer cells (NCI-H460); however, plastoquinone-9, 6-O-acyl-beta-d-glucosyl-beta-sitosterol, 3-acyl-sitosterols, sinigrin, gluconasturtiin, and phosphatidylcholines isolated from horseradish showed no proliferation inhibition activity.1,2 An early animal study also supports these anticancer findings.10
  • Anticoagulant/antiplatelet activity: In an animal study using intravenous horseradish peroxidase, the authors concluded that intravenous horseradish peroxidase stimulated synthesis of arachidonic acid metabolites.17
  • Antihypertensive activity: In animal studies, horseradish has caused hypotension.18,17
  • Anti-inflammatory activity: In in vitro study using isolates from horseradish, 60mcg/mL of plastoquinone-9 and 6-O-acyl-beta-d-glucosyl-beta-sitosterol selectively inhibited COX-1 enzyme by 28 and 32%, respectively.1,2 At a concentration of 250mcg/mL, 1,2-dilinolenoyl-3-galactosylglycero showed 75% inhibition of COX-1 enzyme. 3-Acyl-sitosterols, sinigrin, gluconasturtiin, and phosphatidylcholines were also tested, but were inactive in the assays.
  • Antimutagenic activity: In in vitro study, horseradish has shown antimutagenic activity.11 In addition, a combination of extracts from horseradish roots (Armoracia rusticana), fig branches (Ficus carica), and maize seedlings (Zea mays) decreased the level of NaF induced mutability in rat marrow cells and decreased the frequency of spontaneous and gamma-ray induced chromosome aberrations in marrow cells of mice.12,13
  • Antithyroid activity: In an in vitro study, horseradish peroxidase combined with H2O2 formed stable compounds that catalyzed both iodination and thyroid hormone formation.19
  • Insecticidal activity: In a fumigation bioassay, horseradish oil showed insecticidal activity against larvae of Lycoriella ingenua (Dufour), with 100% mortality at 1.25mcL/L of air; allyl isothiocyanate isolated from horseradish had a LC50 value of 0.15mcL/L.25
  • Oxidizing activity: Horseradish root has shown peroxidase, oxidative, and radical scavenging activities in vitro.11 In one in vitro study, horseradish (Armoracia rusticana) peroxidase (HRP), combined with H2O2, oxidized alkylphenols such as bisphenol A (2,2-bis(4-hydroxyphenyl)propane), p-nonylphenol, and p-octylphenol, known as endocrine disrupters.22 Male killifish exposed to bisphenol A that had been oxidized by horseradish perioxidase did not show estrogen-like activity (an increase in vitellogenin) that was seen with unoxidized bisphenol A administration.
  • Insufficient available evidence.

  1. Weil, M. J., Zhang, Y., and Nair, M. G. Tumor cell proliferation and cyclooxygenase inhibitory constituents in horseradish (Armoracia rusticana) and Wasabi (Wasabia japonica). J Agric Food Chem 3-9-2005;53(5):1440-1444. 15740020
  2. Weil, M. J., Zhang, Y., and Nair, M. G. Colon cancer proliferating desulfosinigrin in wasabi (Wasabia japonica). Nutr Cancer 2004;48(2):207-213. 15231456
  3. Veitch, N. C. Horseradish peroxidase: a modern view of a classic enzyme. Phytochemistry 2004;65(3):249-259. 14751298
  4. Patterson, A. V., Saunders, M. P., and Greco, O. Prodrugs in genetic chemoradiotherapy. Curr Pharm Des 2003;9(26):2131-2154. 14529410
  5. Wardman, P. Indole-3-acetic acids and horseradish peroxidase: a new prodrug/enzyme combination for targeted cancer therapy. Curr Pharm Des 2002;8(15):1363-1374. 12052213
  6. Greco, O. and Dachs, G. U. Gene directed enzyme/prodrug therapy of cancer: historical appraisal and future prospectives. J Cell Physiol 2001;187(1):22-36. 11241346
  7. Tupper, J., Tozer, G. M., and Dachs, G. U. Use of horseradish peroxidase for gene-directed enzyme prodrug therapy with paracetamol. British Journal of Cancer 2004;90(9):1858-1862.
  8. Greco, O., Folkes, L. K., Wardman, P., Tozer, G. M., and Dachs, G. U. Development of a novel enzyme/prodrug combination for gene therapy of cancer: horseradish peroxidase/indole-3-acetic acid. Cancer Gene Therapy 2000;7(11):1414-1420.
  9. Conaway, C. C., Yang, Y. M., and Chung, F. L. Isothiocyanates as cancer chemopreventive agents: their biological activities and metabolism in rodents and humans. Curr Drug Metab 2002;3(3):233-255. 12083319
  10. MATTHES, T. and SCHMIDT, K. [Carcinolytic effect of Cochlearia armoracia in Ehrlich's ascites cancer in mouse, in Jensen sarcoma in rat and in cancer of the skin in humans.]. Arztl Forsch 8-10-1955;9(8):I/358-I/363. 13258396
  11. Kinae, N., Masuda, H., Shin, Il S., Furugori, M., and Shimoi, K. Functional properties of wasabi and horseradish. Biofactors 2000;13(1-4):265-269.
  12. Agabeili, R. A. and Kasimova, T. E. [Antimutagenic activity of Armoracia rusticana, Zea mays and Ficus carica plant extracts and their mixture]. Tsitol Genet 2005;39(3):75-79. 16250249
  13. Agabeili, R. A., Kasimova, T. E., and Alekperov, U. K. [Antimutagenic activity of plant extracts from Armoracia rusticana, Ficus carica and Zea mays and peroxidase in eukaryotic cells]. Tsitol Genet 2004;38(2):40-45. 15131968
  14. WECHSELBERG, K. [In vitro studies on the effect of oily plant extracts from Tropaeolum maius, Cochlearia armoracia and Allium sativum on growth of tubercle bacteria.]. Z Hyg Infektionskr 1958;145(4):380-394. 13625814
  15. HALBEISEN, T. [Antibiotic substance obtained from Cochlearia armoracia L.]. Arzneimittelforschung 1957;7(5):321-324. 13445551
  16. KIENHOLZ, M. [Studies of antibacterial substances from horseradish (Cochlearia armoracia), nasturtium (Tropaeolum maius) and garden peppergrass (Lepidium sativum).]. Arch Hyg Bakteriol 1957;141(3):182-197. 13435755
  17. Sjaastad, O. V., Blom, A. K., and Haye, R. Hypotensive effects in cats caused by horseradish peroxidase mediated by metabolites of arachidonic acid. J Histochem.Cytochem. 1984;32(12):1328-1330. 6501865
  18. Deimann, W., Taugner, R., and Fahimi, H. D. Arterial hypotension induced by horseradish peroxidase in various rat strains. J Histochem Cytochem 1976;24(12):1213-1217. 1002975
  19. Deme, D., Virion, A., Michot, J. L., and Pommier, J. Thyroid hormone synthesis and thyroglobulin iodination related to the peroxidase localization of oxidizing equivalents: studies with cytochrome c peroxidase and horseradish peroxidase. Arch Biochem Biophys 2-1-1985;236(2):559-566. 2982316
  20. Panter, K. E. and James, L. F. Natural plant toxicants in milk: a review. J Anim Sci 1990;68(3):892-904. 2180885
  21. Goos, K. H., Albrecht, U., and Schneider, B. [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]. Arzneimittelforschung 2006;56(3):249-257. 16618018
  22. Sakuyama, H., Endo, Y., Fujimoto, K., and Hatana, Y. Oxidative degradation of alkylphenols by horseradish peroxidase. J Biosci Bioeng 2003;96(3):227-231. 16233514
  23. Bartonek-Roxa, E., Eriksson, H., and Mattiasson, B. The cDNA sequence of a neutral horseradish peroxidase. Biochim.Biophys Acta 2-16-1991;1088(2):245-250. 2001399
  24. Li, X. and Kushad, M. M. Purification and characterization of myrosinase from horseradish (Armoracia rusticana) roots. Plant Physiol Biochem 2005;43(6):503-511. 15922609
  25. Park, I. K., Choi, K. S., Kim, D. H., Choi, I. H., Kim, L. S., Bak, W. C., Choi, J. W., and Shin, S. C. Fumigant activity of plant essential oils and components from horseradish (Armoracia rusticana), anise (Pimpinella anisum) and garlic (Allium sativum) oils against Lycoriella ingenua (Diptera: Sciaridae). Pest Manag Sci 2006;62(8):723-728. 16786497

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