Sinus headache giving you the summertime blues? Instead of taking another aspirin or ibuprofen tablet, dig into the garden for a popular old-timer’s cure: horseradish.
Horseradish, or Cochlearia armoracia, is a bitter vegetable that has been around for hundreds of years. It’s believed to have originated somewhere in eastern Europe as a medicine, and then emerged as a popular condiment. As a sinus pressure treatment, it is highly effective for both its anti-inflammatory and antibiotic properties. It has a high volume of sulfur, which creates its pungent, powerful taste.
Because the plant can be grown virtually anywhere (it is not impacted by the cold and can be harvested for several years after an initial planting), it’s a smart choice for frequent sinus pain sufferers. Horseradish is a perennial plant that is hardy in zones 2-9, but it can be grown as an annual in other climates where it doesn’t get cold enough for the plant to achieve winter dormancy. It is easy to grow and proliferates wildly, making it a great choice for a gardener looking for a low-maintenance plant.
Although horseradish was commonly used in the 1800s and early 1900s, it gradually faded from common use as it was been replaced by various pharmaceutical drugs. However, unlike the vast majority of prescription or over-the-counter treatments, horseradish has no side effects and tastes significantly better than your average decongestant syrup! In fact, studies have even proven that horseradish is just as effective as most chemical antibiotics (and sometimes even more so).
It can be used in a variety of ways. Take a half teaspoon of freshly grated horseradish root and hold it in your mouth for several minutes. This will help to cut the mucus in the sinuses and to allow them to drain down your throat. This treatment also works well for coughs, asthma and various allergies, such as hay fever. It serves as a general expectorant, meaning that any respiratory congestion or breathing difficulty can be improved or eliminated with the use of this powerful herb.
Fresh or grated horseradish can also be placed in a bowl with several cups of hot water. Hold your head over the bowl and place a towel over your head. Be sure to close your eyes, and inhale the steam from the dish until your sinus congestion begins to loosen. This remedy works best in the early stages of sinus infection or colds, but provides no side-effects or medical hazards.
Horseradish also has diuretic properties that can be used to treat kidney stones, bladder infections, and urinary tract problems. It helps stimulate the flow of urine and can be safely used for long-term treatment of these problems. To use, mix four tablespoons of grated root and combine it with your favorite beverage to decrease the intensity of the flavor. Using horseradish in this way also can improve digestion processes and overall health.
It should be noted that fresh horseradish always works best at treating these conditions, as it loses potency as it sits over time or is cooked. Horseradish provides many medical benefits when eaten raw as part of any culinary dish, too; add it to your wasabi or cocktail sauce for an extra nutritive kick! You’ll begin to feel the health benefits almost immediately.
Have you ever used horseradish medicinally? Share your tips on it in the section below: