Horse-radish is the root of Cochlearia Armoracia, an herbaceous perennial plant, indigenous in Europe, but everywhere cultivated in gardens for culinary purposes. Though formerly recognized in our Pharmacopoeia, it was, I think unfortunately, discarded at the late revision of that work.

The fresh root is long, tapering, often branched, white, fleshy, of a strong, pungent odour when bruised, and a hot, biting, sweetish taste. These properties, as well as its medical virtues, it imparts to water and alcohol. They are dependent on a volatile oil, which may be separated by distillation with water. This oil is extremely fugitive, being dissipated by the drying of the root, and wholly driven off by boiling. it is supposed to be formed by certain reactions, similar to those which take place in mustard, to which the reader is referred, among the rubefacients. it is only in the recent state that the root is employed in medicine. in this state, it may be kept for a long time, if buried in dry sand, in a cool place.

Medical Effects and Uses

Horse-radish is an active local irritant, having general stimulating properties, with a disposition to increase the secretions, especially that of urine. Taken into the stomach, it stimulates that organ, increasing the appetite, and invigorating digestion; and is much employed as a condiment for this purpose. it also has carminative properties. its volatile oil is absorbed, and stimulates the circulation, and the emunctories as it escapes through them. in over-doses, it sometimes causes vomiting. in medicine, it is occasionally used as a diuretic in dropsy, attended with a feeble state of the system, impaired digestion, and an atonic condition of the kidneys; but chiefly associated with other diuretics. it has also been employed in cases of palsy and chronic rheumatism, as a preventive and remedy in scurvy, as a masticatory, and as a remedy in hoarseness. For the last-mentioned purpose it was used by Dr. Cullen, who gave it in the form of syrup, to be slowly swallowed, in doses of one or two teaspoonful. The dose of the root in substance is half a drachm or more. it may be given scraped into a soft mass, or well bruised. it may also be administered in infusion.

Infusion of Horse-radish (infusum Armoraciae, U.S. 1850; infusum Armoraciae Compositum, Lond.) was prepared by macerating an ounce of horse-radish, and the same quantity of bruised mustard seeds, in a pint of boiling water. The dose of it was two fluidounces, three or four times a day.

A Compound Spirit of Horse-radish (Spiritus Armoraciae Compositus, Br.) is still officinal in the British Pharmacopoeia, which directs it to be prepared by distilling proof spirit from horse-radish, bitter orange-peel, and nutmeg. it is an elegant stimulant diuretic, and may be added to diuretic infusions or mixtures, when it is desirable to render them more stimulating to the stomach, the system generally, and the kidneys. it is peculiarly adapted to dropsical affections occurring in drunkards. The dose is from one to four fluidrachms.