MUSTARD (Brassica nigra and Brassica juncea – Cruciferae), There are three varieties of mustard which produce seeds used as a condiment. The first two are very closely related: Brassica nigra or black mustard (probably native to the Middle East) and Brassica juncea or brown mustard (probably native to China and India). The seeds of these are the ones distilled for use in therapy. The third variety is Sinapis alba, also known as Brassica alba or white mustard (native to the Mediterranean), which is the seed grown for the seedling mustard of mustard and cress (usually now that of rape). All are members of the cabbage family and are characterized by cross-shaped flowers (thus the name Cruciferae); these are followed by smooth erect pods containing the seeds. Brassica nigra is the largest variety, reaching to 2.4 m (8 ft) in height. All three are grown throughout the world
Mustard seeds were found in Ancient Egyptian tombs along with other offerings such as coriander, parsley and lotus seeds; the plants and seeds were mentioned on stele and papyri dating from as early as the first dynasty. Sanskrit mentions date back to 3000BC, which suggests that mustard must be one of the oldest recorded spices. (Some sources claim that mustard was cultivated in the Stone and Iron Ages.) The Greeks and Romans, too, knew mustard: according to classical tradition, it was introduced to man by Aesculepius, the god of medicine, and Ceres, the goddess of agriculture and seeds. The Romans steeped the seeds in must – new wine – calling the result mustrum or mustum ardens (burning must), from which the name in English is thought to derive. They brought the seeds to Britain, and early emigrants introduced the plant to North America.
Both England and France were and are famed for mustard production. Monks in St Germain des Pres were famous for growing the plants over 1000 years ago, and mustard making and eating has been recorded in Burgundy as early as 1336: the city of Dijon was granted exclusive rights to mustard manufacture in 1634. England had known mustard since Roman times, and the centre for production at the time of Shakespeare was Tewkesbury. At the beginning of the eighteenth century, Durham became important, and a hundred years later, with the entry into the mustard business of one Jeremiah Colman, the British mustard industry became centred on Norwich and East Anglia.
What is Mustard Oil?
‘Sarson ka tel’ or Mustard essential oil is a vital part of Ayurveda, the ancient Indian therapy where it is used for cleansing, stimulating and revitalizing the body. Besides all the controversies across the world, Mustard oil is popular and extensively used in India, Bangladesh and few other Western countries. Though extracted from the same Mustard seeds, Mustard edible oil is totally different from Mustard essential oil by the method of extraction where the vegetable oil is extracted by cold compressing the seeds and the essential oil of Mustard is extracted by steam distillation of seeds that are soaked in water.
Mustard oil is to Asian countries just like Olive oil is to Mediterranean countries. Besides the myth of being banned in certain countries for internal use, Mustard is a legendary oil used for more than thousands of years in the world’s oldest mythologies like India, Rome and Greece.
Chemical constituents and therapeutic properties of Mustard essential oil
The essential oil of Mustard has Allyl isothiocyanate, oleic acid, omega-6 linoleic acid, omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid and erucic acid. These constituents contribute to the remedial properties including cordial, tonic, anti-rheumatic, stimulant, appetizer, antifungal, antimicrobial, diaphoretic, hair vitalizer, insect repellant and irritant.
Mustard oil has an edge over other oils due to the optimum ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and low content of saturated fats.
- Key Nutrients: It comprises of about 60% monounsaturated fats (MUFA), 21% polyunsaturated fats (PUFA) and 12% saturated fats. These fatty acids are considered ‘good fats’ as they do not get deposited on the arterial walls. Its pungent and sharp flavor can be attributed to a compound called Allyl Isothiocyanate. It also contains Glucosinolate which has anti-microbial properties. Mustard oil does not contain carbohydrates, fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals. Being a vegetable source, mustard oil contains alpha-linolenic acid or ALA, an essential omega-3 fatty acid. One teaspoon of mustard oil contains around 0.8 gram of omega-3 fatty acid.
- Calories and Fat: One tablespoon of mustard oil contains about 124 calories. It contains about 14 grams fat out of which 8.3 grams is monounsaturated fat, 2.9 grams polyunsaturated fat and 1.6 grams unsaturated fat. It has a lower content of monounsaturated fat in comparison with olive, flaxseed, grape seed and peanut oil.
Health Benefits of Mustard Essential Oil
Mustard essential oil is a very strong stimulant, just like mustard oil. It is particularly effective in stimulating circulation, digestion and excretion. This oil, if used externally for the purpose of massage, stimulates circulation very well. The effects are very obvious by the red color of the skin. It also stimulates digestion by stimulating the secretion of gastric juices and bile from the spleen and liver. The excretory system is also stimulated by this oil since the peristaltic motion of the intestines is activated, benefiting digestion.
2. ) Irritant
Although being an irritant is not often seen as a good thing, it can be beneficial in some unique cases. Irritation is nothing but a way that an organ reacts to an external agent or stimulus. It also shows that the organ is responding to external stimuli. This is where the potential benefit is. This property can be used to bring sensation back to those organs which are suffering from numbness or lack of sensation. This property is also used to pump up muscles and stimulate muscle growth or excitation.
This essential oil acts as an appetizer and boosts hunger. This can also be a side effect of the irritant and stimulant qualities of mustard essential oil. It irritates the inner lining of the stomach and intestines, stimulates digestive juices, and creates a feeling of hunger.
This essential oil has bactericidal or antibacterial properties. Internally, it fights bacterial infections in the colon, digestive system, excretory system, and urinary tract. When applied externally, it can treat bacterial infections on the skin.
This oil serves as an antifungal agent, due to the presence of Allyl Isothiocyanate. It does not allow fungal growth and also inhibits the spread of infection if it has already formed.
6.) Insect Repellant
Insects and even some smaller animals avoid this oil and keep away from it. That is why mustard essential oil acts as such a useful insect repellant as well. It can be used in fumigants and vaporizers to drive away insects.
7.) Hair Revitalizer
The stimulating effect and the presence of certain fatty acids such as oleic acid and linoleic acid, when combined together, make mustard essential oil an efficient hair revitalizer. Its stimulating effects increase blood circulation in the scalp while the fatty acids nourish the hair roots. It has been repeatedly shown that prolonged use of this oil on the hair may give it a brown tint, but it strengthens it and effectively prevents hair loss.
The feeling of warmth that this oil provides makes it a cordial. It warms up the internal system like the respiratory system and protects it from the formation and accumulation of phlegm. It also warms up the body in winter to some extent. This also may be partially due to its stimulating and mildly irritating effects.
It promotes sweating both when consumed and when applied externally. It stimulates sweat glands to produce more sweat as well as enlarges the openings of the pores on skin. This property is helpful in lowering body temperature as well as for removing toxins, excess salts, and water from the body.
This oil serves as an all around tonic for your body’s health. It tones up all the systems operating in the body, gives strength and boosts immune function.
11.) Anti-Rheumatic & Anti-Arthritic
Mustard essential oil provides relief for symptoms of rheumatism and arthritis and has been used for this purpose since ancient times.
12.) Healthy Teeth
who doesn’t want healthy and whiter teeth? But now you don’t need to spend money on various products that claim to keep your teeth and gums stronger because “mustard oil” is considered as one of the best natural ingredient for brushing. One tablespoon of warm mustard oil and pinch of salt is all you need. Massage this mixture on your teeth, gums and even on tongue for 1-2 minutes. Keep spitting the saliva and then rinse with warm water. Mustard oil will strengthen your gums, relieve tooth pain, prevent mouth-odor and will whiten your teeth naturally.
13.) It Improves Complexion
Mustard oil is used on infants and brides-to-be in India because it improves skin complexion when massaged on skin. Initially it can make your skin appear a little dark but as you soon as you’ll rinse it you will see nourished and hydrated skin. If you have tanned skin or have dark spots then concentrate more on them because it not only improves complexion but also reduces spots and blemishes. Mustard oil also contains vitamin E thus it is believed that it’s a very good sunscreen too and protects the skin from harmful sun-rays.
14.) Treat Scalp Problems
Dandruff? Itching? Baldness? Pre-mature-graying? Hair fall? All scalp problems can be treated naturally with the help of mustard oil. Yes, this oil can treat almost every scalp related problem; all you need is a bowl of warm mustard oil and massage your scalp with it. It contains vitamins, minerals and high amount of beta-carotene which fulfills the scalp needs. Massaging also increases blood circulation which helps in hair growth too. Mustard oil for scalp massaging is the first choice in India because of its various hair-benefits.
15.) Reduces the Risk of Cancer
Mustard oil contains a substance called Glucosinolate which is known for its anti-carcinogenic properties and prevents the formation of cancerous tumors. The phytonutrients provide protection against colorectal and gastrointestinal cancers.
16.) Beneficial during Asthma
Mustard oil is considered a natural remedy for asthma and sinusitis. In case of an asthma attack, massaging the chest with brown mustard oil instead of the usual vapor rubs can give relief as breathing in the vapor improves airflow to the lungs. You can also mix one teaspoon of sugar and one teaspoon of mustard oil and have a spoonful several times a day. Alternatively, swallow a mixture of one teaspoon of honey and mustard oil thrice a day. These remedies are effective in controlling asthma.
17.) Relief from Cold and Cough
This oil is beneficial for those who are prone to cold and cough as it helps clear the congestion of chest and nose. Apply a mixture of one teaspoon of mustard oil and camphor on the chest and lie back to enable the vapors to enter the lungs. For mustard oil steam treatment, add a few spoonfuls of mustard oil and caraway seeds to a pot of boiling water and inhale this steam. The strong aroma of mustard oil will warm up the respiratory system, thus providing protection against the formation and build-up of phlegm.
Few Ways of Mustard Oil Usage:
- Apply the oil on the skin for 10 mins to remove tan, reduce the signs of aging as well as the heat that causes itching and redness.
- Mustard oil massage all over the body will help offer strengthening and deep nourishing properties to the skin along with relaxing and rejuvenating the body.
- Mustard oil boiled with henna leaves is said to increase hair growth, while strengthening the hair from the follicle.
A few tips before embarking on the journey of using mustard oil
- Always do a patch test before using mustard oil on the skin.Opt for lower strength or cooking mustard oil to avoid rashes etc
- Watch for any adverse reaction/ allergies after introducing mustard oil into your diet
- Choose high quality branded mustard oils and be careful of adulterated oil products
- When using mustard oil as a base for tempering , it must be heated to smoking point for the full flavor.
Hence, mustard oil comes in the category of healthiest oils with an array of health benefits whether used as cooking oil or applied topically. However, before using it for cooking or external application, ensure that you are not allergic to it. Discontinue using it if you experience any swelling, extreme irritation or rashes. Moreover, it should not be directly applied on the skin as it can be harsh to sensitive skin. It should be mixed with other oils or ingredients to get maximum benefits.
Blending: No information regarding its blending is known specifically, but it is extremely rare to see this as an aromatherapy option due to its mildly irritating nature.
You can purchase Mustard Essential Oil here.
When mustard oil is inhaled, it produces an extremely unpleasant sensation in the occipital regions of the head and causes inflammation of the conjunctiva of the eyes and the mucus membranes of the respiratory system.
When applied to the skin, it provokes a burning sensation and should never be used in aromatherapy.