Armoraciae Radix. Br. Horseradish Root.
"Horseradish Root is the fresh root of Cochlearia Armoracia, Linn., collected from cultivated plants." Br.
Armoracia, Br. 1864; Raifort sauvage, Moutarde des Moines, Radis de Cheval, Cran de Bretegce, Fr.; Meerrettig, G.; Rabano rusticano (Raiz de), g.
Cochlearia Armoracia L. (also known as Rorippa Armoracia (L.) Hitch, and Radicula Armoracia (L.) Robinson) is a native of the marshy districts of Great Britain. It is cultivated very largely for its roots which are used as a condiment, being considered stimulating to the digestive organs. It has escaped from our gardens, growing in moist grounds, especially along streams. The root of this plant is perennial, sending up numerous very large radical leaves from the midst of which r-, round, smooth, erect, branching stem rises two or three feet in height. The radical leaves are lance-shaped, waved, scolloped on the edges, sometimes pinnatifid, and stand upon strong footstalks. Those of the stem are much smaller, without footstalks, sometimes divided at the edges, sometimes almost entire. The flowers are numerous, white, peduncled, and form thick terminal clusters.
The root, which is official in its fresh state, is long, conical at top, then nearly cylindrical for some inches, at last tapering, whitish externally, very white internally, fleshy, of a Strong pungent odor when scraped or bruised, and of a hot, biting, somewhat sweetish, and sometimes bitterish taste. "Nearly cylindrical, except at the crown, where it is somewhat enlarged, and marked with closely approximated semi-amplexicaul leaf-scars. Diameter from twelve to twenty-five millimetres, length commonly thirty centimetres or more; pale yellowish-white or brownish-white externally, whitish within. Inodorous when unbroken, but yielding a characteristic pungent odor when scraped or bruised; taste very pungent." Br. Its virtues are imparted to water and alcohol. They depend upon a volatile oil, which is dissipated by drying, the root becoming at first sweetish, and ultimately insipid and quite inert. Its acrimony is also destroyed by boiling. The oil may be obtained by distillation with water. It is colorless or pale yellow, heavier than water, very volatile, excessively pungent, acrid, and corrosive, exciting inflammation and even vesication when applied to the skin. Hubatka considers it as identical with the volatile oil of mustard. He combined it with ammonia and obtained crystals of thiosinamin, NH2.CS.N(C3H5)H, which agreed with that produced from mustard oil. (J. P. C. 3e ser., v, 42.) According to Gutret, only six parts of it are obtained from 10,000 of the root. Besides this principle, the fresh root contains, according to the same chemist, a bitter resin in minute quantity, sugar, extractive, gum, starch, albumen, acetic acid, calcium sulphate and acetate, water, and ligiiin. A. Hilger found in the ashes of the root of horseradish the following: calcium, magnesium, potassium, a trace of sodium and iron in combination with sulphuric, hydrochloric, carbonic, phosphoric, and silicic acids. (Chem. Cb., p. 597, 1878; A. J. P., 1879, p. 21.) From observations made by F. L. Winckler, it may be inferred that myronic acid exists in the root combined with potassium, and that it is from the reaction between this potassium myronate, myrosine, an enzyme, also existing in the root, and water, that the volatile oil is produced, in the same manner as oil of mustard from mustard seed. (See Sinapis.) Horseradish when distilled with alcohol yields none of the oil. Buried in cool sand the root may be kept for some time without material injury.
It is said that if to the powder of the dried root which has become apparently inert, the emulsion of white mustard seed containing myrosin be added, it reacquires its original irritant properties; so that it is the myrosin and not the potassium myronate which is injured by drying. Hence the powdered root may be added with advantage to mustard in preparing cataplasms, pediluvia, etc. (J. P. C., xxvii, 268.)
The French Codex contains a formula for compound syrup of Horseradish under the name of Sirop de Raifort Compose. It was formerly called Sirop Antiscorbutique.
Uses.—Horseradish is highly stimulant, exciting the stomach when swallowed, and promoting the secretions, especially that of urine. Externally it is rubefacient. Its chief use is as a condiment to promote appetite and invigorate digestion.
Dose, fifteen to thirty grains (1-2 Gm.) or more, grated or cut into small pieces.
Off. Prep.—Spiritus Armoraciae Compositus, Br.