The Common Garden Radish (Raphanus Sativus) is a cultivated variety of the horse radish; it was not grown in England before 1548, though highly commended by Dioscorides and Pliny in ancient days. John Evelyn (Acetaria) gave it as his opinion "that this root is hard of digestion, inimicous to the stomach, causing nauseous eructations, and sometimes vomiting, though otherwise diuretic, and thought to repel the vapours of wine when the wits were at their genial club." "The Radish," says Gerarde, "provoketh urine, and dissolveth cluttered sand. Its edible root consists of a watery, fibrous pulp, which is comparatively bland, and of an external skin furnished with a pungent, volatile, aromatic oil, which acts as a condiment to the phlegmatic pulp. Radishes are to be eaten with salt alone, as carrying their pepper in them." The oil contained in the root, (and likewise in the seeds), is sulphuretted, and apt to disagree with persons of weak digestion. A young Radish which has been quickly grown, and is tender, will suit most stomachs, especially if some of the tender green leaves are masticated together with the root; but a Radish which is tough, strong, and hollow, "fait priser a, l'ile d'Elbe; il revient".

"The juice of the roots," wrote Culpeper, "made into a syrup doth purge by the urine exceedingly. I know not what planets they are under. I think none of the seven will own them".

But for persons of sufficiently vigorous digestion radishes are preventive of boils, or skin eruptions, because of the pungent, volatile, sulphuretted oil which the outer rind contains. The pulp is chemically composed chiefly of nitrogenous substance, being fibrous, and tough, unless when the roots are young, and grown quickly; therefore they are commonly apt to obstruct the intestines. But mature, (not old) Radishes, of rapid growth, if boiled, or stewed, together with some of the succulent leaves, in their own moisture, or with a very little water put with them, are capitally antiscorbutic, and purifying to the blood, because of their sulphur. They will require long stewing so as to become tender. A syrup made with the juice expressed from radish-pulp, and sugar, is excellent for hoarseness, bronchial difficulty of breathing, whooping cough, and other pulmonary complaints. The black Radish is of special service against whooping cough, probably by reason of its volatile, sulphuretted oil.

It is employed in Germany for this purpose by cutting off the top, and then making a hole within the root, which hole is filled with treacle, or honey, and allowed to stand thus for two or three days; afterwards a teaspoonful of the medicated liquid is to be given two or three times in the day, with a dessertspoonful of water, when required.

For the cure of corns, if, after the feet have been bathed, and the corns cut, a drop or two of fresh Radish juice be squeezed over the said corns, on several consecutive days, these troublesome pests will wither, and disappear.

"See the corn-curing hero comes! "

Also Radish roots sliced when fresh, and applied straightway to a carbuncle, will promote its cure. Roman physicians advised that Radishes should be eaten raw, with bread and salt, in the morning before taking any other food. And our poet Thomson has described as an evening repast: -

"A Roman meal Such as the mistress of the world once found Delicious, when her patriots of high note, Perhaps by moonlight, at their humble doors, Under an ancient Oak's domestic shade, Enjoy'd spare feast, a Radish, and an Egg".

Probably the name Radish is from radix, a root, or because of the reddish colour. Shakespeare makes Falstaff speak jestingly of Justice Shallow, "When a' was naked, he was for all the world like a forked radish, with a head fantastically carved upon it with a knife".