Black mustard seeds are challenging to see just by looking at them and are an excellent example of the power of small things when we let them develop.
Black Mustard Scientific Facts
- Scientific name: Brassica nigra (L.) Koch.
- Scientific synonyms: Brassica juncea Sickenb., Sinapsis nigra L.
- Other names: Mustard.
- French: Moutarde noire.
- Spanish: Mostaza Negra.
- Environment: It grows wild on unfarmed lands all over Europe and is naturalized to America.
- Description: Annual plant of the Cruciferae family, growing from 0.2 to 1 m high, with yellow flowers gathering in terminal clusters and round seeds of 1 mm in Parts of the diameter.
- Parts of the plant used medicinally: The seeds.
Black Mustard Healing Properties
The entire plant contains a glycoside (sinigrin), which by means of an enzyme, micronase, becomes a sulfur essential oil with strong revulsive properties. Its seeds also contain mucilage with emollient (soothing) properties.
Mustard FLOUR is mainly used in external applications. As a revulsive substance, it attracts blood towards the skin, thus reducing the congestion of internal organs and tissues. When utilized in the form of poultices, it is very effective in treating rheumatism, sciatic, neuralgia, lung congestion, and acute bronchitis.
Foot baths with mustard flour are a remedy that has been used for a very long time with two main applications:
- Headaches – It alleviates headaches since attracting blood towards the feet reduces the head’s congestion. Foot baths are especially recommended for cephalalgia caused by a viral infection of upper respiratory airways (nasal catarrh, sinusitis, influenza) or high blood pressure.
- High blood pressure – Mustard produces peripheral vasodilation (a dilatation of the small arteries on the extremities), decreasing blood pressure.
Traditional foot baths with mustard flour are still a highly desirable remedy, because of their effectiveness, for headaches, primarily when these are caused by colds, influenza, and sinusitis. Foot baths are also helpful for high blood pressure.
Orally taken, mustard is an irritant seasoning, which is better to avoid. People suffering from dyspepsia or gastro-duodenal ulcer should completely abstain from mustard.
Other Mustard Species
Besides black mustard, there are two other species.
- White mustard (Sinapsis alba L.), which produces bigger seeds, whitish in color, is used to produce edible mustard (seasoning).
- Wild mustard (Brassica kaber Wheeler = Brassica arvensis Rabenh. = Sinapsis arvensis L.) has very small seeds.
Though less intense, both mustard species have similar properties to black mustard.
How to use Black Mustard
- Poultices – Mustard flour is applied as hot poultices, mixing it with linseed flour so as to be less irritant. These poultices are applied up to twice daily for 10 to 15 minutes (a prolonged application can produce blisters). Mustard poultices are called sinapisms (a word from the Greek synapsis mustard: see one of its scientific names).
- Foot baths – Dissolve 1 to 2 spoonfuls of mustard flour into 2 to 3 liters of hot water. Take 2 to 3 baths daily, for 5 to 10 minutes each.
George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. “Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants.” George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants. Ed. Francesc X. Gelabert. vols. 2 San Fernando de Henares: Editorial Safeliz, 2000.663, 664. Print.