I just pulled my first radishes out of the garden a couple of days ago. Last year when we visited Italy I bought a packet of mixed-color seeds, so it was very fun to pull up a handful of white, yellow, pink and red. My husband and I noticed one particularly knobby white one which was so large we wondered if it was actually a turnip. I sliced it in half and we each took a first bite–good flavor, tender crunch like a turnip…so we took a second bite, chewed for a second, then started running around with our eyes watering and tongues on fire with that intense heat only found in members of the crucifer family–wasabi, horseradish, cress all wrapped into one intense mouth explosion. Wonderful! Too bad I can’t read Italian to find out what variety we were actually eating.
That intense sensation tells us a lot about the character of the health properties of the radish; it is a mover and a shaker. Traditionally in South America as well as the US, radishes have been used to improve the quality of digestion. They have a stimulating action on the gallbladder; this means digestion and absorption of fats will be improved as well as removal of cholesterol and fat-bound toxins. Studies on rabbits have even shown that an extract of radish will cause the gallbladder to contract. This is excellent during the springtime when we want to detoxify the body.
In Chinese medicine, radishes have several uses. One is to aid in purification; it is said that radish helps to purge toxins and detoxify old residues latent in the body in a way that is similar to what I mentioned above. In addition to this, radishes are also used to thin mucus and help to move it out from the lungs, nose, and throat. This can be particularly helpful right now when allergies are high.
The explosive property of radishes make them a perfect spring vegetable. They add fire to our system to move out toxins and mucus built up from the winter months and get the body ready for summer. So go pull up a handful and enjoy!
“Healing With Whole Foods” Paul Pitchford
“The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods.” Michael Murray ND
Contractile effect of radish and betel nut extracts on rabbit gallbladder.
Ghayur MN, Gilani AH.
J Complement Integr Med. 2012 Jan 11;9(1). pii: