MAY 18, 2016 07:38 AM PDT

Potent Horseradish May Help Stave Off Cancer

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham
Horseradish isn’t exactly the most visually enchanting of spices. Far from being beautiful like the saffron flower, the horseradish root is gangly and unassuming. But similar to the saffron, scientists have now identified a cancer-fighting compound in this spicy root.
A teaspoon of horseradish may stave off cancer-causing molecules
The horseradish originated in the Mediterranean and arrived to the America in the 1600s. Supposedly, the eccentric name of the spice derived from the English confusion of the the German name, meerrettich. In German, meer is sea, and rettich is root; thus, meerrettich literally translates to “sea root.” Englishmen confused “meer” with “mare,” and Americans further simplified “mare” to horse, hence the current name of horseradish.
 
Many people are familiar with horseradish as a condiment mixer – a touch of this spice can transform ordinary ketchup to a cocktail sauce worthy of the finest seafood or steak. But while its unique “heat” makes the root popular among chefs, horseradish has also been prized for its medicinal purposes. Horseradish was used to treat colds, respiratory problems, and even kidney stones and urinary tract infections. Now, researchers are adding cancer to this list of medicinal properties.
 
"We knew horseradish had health benefits, but in this study, we were able to link it to the activation of certain detoxifying enzymes for the first time," said Mosbah Kushad, University of Illinois crop scientist, and senior study author.
 
Leading a team of researchers, Kushad focused on a chemical compound that’s highly abundant in horseradish: glucosinolates. This compound is found at 10 times higher in horseradish than even the superfood broccoli.
 
In the study, Kushad found that the breakdown of glucosinolates activated enzymes that help clean out cancer-causing free-radicals in the body. In effect, breakdown of glucosinolates detoxifies cancer-causing molecules.
 
They also further found that different strains of horseradish had varying anti-cancer potential. "There was no information on whether the USDA grade of the horseradish root is associated with cancer preventive activity, so we wanted to test that," Kushad said. They found that higher-grade U.S. Fancy strains had higher glucosinolates than other strains.
 
But of course, "No one is going to eat a pound of horseradish," Kushad admitted. He further noted that a teaspoon might be sufficient quantity to reap the anti-cancer benefits of horseradish. This is, in part, due to the fact that the body can absorb nearly 90 percent of the pungent spice. 
 

Additional source: Science Daily
About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
You May Also Like
JUL 17, 2018
Cancer
JUL 17, 2018
Immunotherapy Diversification: From CAR-T cells to CAR-NK cells
New advances have made it possible for immunotherapy researchers to use natural killer cells, which are our body's normal defense for cancerous cells, to target tumors....
JUL 17, 2018
Cancer
JUL 17, 2018
Experimental "Trojan Horse" Tumor Destruction Approach Using CRISPR
CRISPR can be used to dupe circulating tumor cells into killing their own main tumor after "re-homing" back with a death receptor for tumor destruction....
AUG 28, 2018
Drug Discovery
AUG 28, 2018
Combination Therapy for Advanced Melonoma
According to a research study led by UCLA, a bacteria-like agent used in combination with an immunotherapeutic drug may help patients survive longer with a...
SEP 02, 2018
Cell & Molecular Biology
SEP 02, 2018
Cancer Cell Lines can Evolve in the Lab
New research shows that scientists have to take steps to verify the identity of the cell lines they grow....
SEP 05, 2018
Videos
SEP 05, 2018
Why Glioblastoma Is So Deadly
Senator John McCain passed away recently after battling brain cancer. Most forms of brain cancer are aggressive and difficult to treat because medications...
NOV 24, 2018
Drug Discovery
NOV 24, 2018
New Anti-Malarial Drug Target in Cancer
For decades, anti-malaria drugs--known as Chloroquines, have used to treat cancer. But the role in repurposing these drugs for slowing tumor growth have ne...
Loading Comments...