Mustard (Huang Jie Zi / Bai Jie Ze)
Botanical Name: Brassica juncea, Sinapis alba, B. nigra
Mustard seeds are commonly used around the world for making medicines and as a culinary spice and condiment. Medicinally, the seeds are used to treat high blood pressure, asthma, and arthritis. Mustard greens are said to benefit anyone suffering from asthma, stomach disorders, heart disease, and menopausal symptoms. Highly nutritious, mustard contains over 600% of your daily requirement of vitamin K and 96% of vitamin A.
Watch a short video, from Ann Christensen, Founder and Creator of White Rabbit Institute of Healing™ – Understanding the Different Types of Mustard and Their Uses.
Below is an overview of mustard, combining the best of Western Science, Oriental Medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Shamanism, Folklore, and a wide range of healing modalities. Gain a balanced and thorough understanding of the healing properties of mustard.
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Western Name: Mustard
Also Known As: Charlock, Chinese Mustard, Leaf Mustard
Organs/Systems: Respiratory, Cardiovascular, Digestive, Skin
Key Actions: Emetic, Diuretic, Anti-inflammatory, Antioxidant, Rubefacient, Stimulant, Decongestant, Expectorant
Medicinal Uses: Arthritis, migraines, digestive issues, asthma, bronchitis, chest congestion, slow metabolism, high blood pressure, bee stings, digestion, sore throats, reducing cancer cell growth.
Pin Yin: Huang Jie Zi (Brown Mustard Seeds / B. juncea), Bai Jie Ze (White and Yellow Mustard Seeds / Sinapis alba)
Also Known As: Jie Mo, Mustasa (Mustard Greens), Chinese mustard, Indian mustard
Meridians: Lung, Stomach
Key Actions: Moistens the Lungs, Expels Phlegm, Moves Qi, Warms the Core (Stomach and Spleen), Expels Cold, Reduces Inflammation, Dissolves Nodules, Relieves Pain, Stops Cough
Medicinal Uses: Vomiting, abdominal pain, chest pain, coughs, congestion, asthma, muscle cramps, joint pain, flatulence, numbness, fevers, colds and flu, sluggish bowels, sinus congestion, reduces fibroids.
Basic Habitat / Botany:
Mustard belongs to the Brassicaceae (Cruciferae), or the mustard family of plants. They are annual and can grow to be 2-4 feet tall. The flowers have four petals and are yellow and white with a slight vanilla scent. One set of petals is long and the other two are short.
Wild mustard can be found in West Asia and Europe. Sanskrit records dating back over 5,000 years reference the plant suggesting it was native to these areas. It is now cultivated around the world, including Canada, India, Denmark, the United Kingdom, Chile, the US, and some European countries. You will often find it growing in old pastures and fields.
Parts Most Frequently Used: Seed, Leaf, Stem
Flavors/Temps: Pungent, Hot
Caution: Considered safe as a food, when applied to the skin for extended periods it can cause blisters, burns, or ulcers. It is not recommended during pregnancy in medicinal amounts as it can stimulate menstruation causing a miscarriage. Some people may be allergic to the plant.
Key Constituents: Mono-unsaturated fats, Phosphorous, Zinc, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, Beta-carotene, Folic acid, Flavonoids (including very high levels of kaempferol, isorhamnetin, and quercetin), Selenium, Copper, Phenols, Isothiocyanates (ITCs), Sinigrin, Phenolic acid, Ferulic acid, Tryptophan, OMega-3 fatty acids
History/Folklore: Mustard plants have been used for thousands of years in spices and as medicines. As a medicine, the seeds have long been used to treat a variety of ailments from abscesses, arthritis, asthma, bronchitis, to helping to prevent cancer. Mustard plasters are used to treat chest congestion, aching back pain, sore muscles, and painful joints.
The name mustard comes from the Latin “mustum ardens,” meaning “burning must.” It refers to the seeds ground with unfermented grape juice, called must, and the seed’s pungent qualities. The shape of the blossoms, like a cross, gave a name to their family name, Crucifera, or cross-like.
Mustard is related to cabbage, kale, Chinese cabbage, horseradish, broccoli, turnips, and radishes. It contains many of the same phytochemicals that make all of these plants healthy and healing as well.
Mustard can speed up your metabolism, lower blood pressure, inhibit cancer cell growth, reduce the severity of asthma, help heal bee stings, and decrease the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. Because mustard is warming and stimulating it is also highly useful for treating a wide variety of skin conditions including psoriasis, contact dermatitis, acne and even stimulating hair growth. A plaster of the seeds can also help to soothe and heal nerve damage causing pain and numbness.
High in the flavonoids kaempferol, isorhamnetin, and quercetin, mustard greens continue to be studied for their anticancer properties that these compounds are famous for. Only four vegetables contain the same high content of these compounds as mustard greens: kale, purslane, and collard greens.
Isothiocyanates (ITCs) are a particular group of sulfur-containing nutrients that are also being studied for their anticancer potential. These compounds have the unique ability to support detoxification processes in our cells. Of all the cruciferous vegetables which are themselves known to be especially high in these compounds as compared to other vegetables, mustard greens contain the highest levels.
White mustard (Sinapis alba) also called yellow mustard in North Africa, Central Asia, and the Mediterranean is the mustard typically used in the production of commercial mustards. It is the least pungent. Brown mustard (Brassica juncea), native to Asia, is used to make Dijon mustard.
Mustard seeds have been used for thousands of years in Traditional Chinese Medicine to treat abscesses, bronchitis, colds, rheumatism, toothaches, ulcers, and stomach disorders. A common use of mustard is as a mustard plaster. The mustard seeds are crushed and mixed with water to make a paste. The paste is spread on a cloth and with the herb side up placed on an area to reduce congestion, move blood, or reduce inflammation and pain, such as the chest or aching joints or muscles.
Mustard greens come from the plant Brassica juncea, originated in the Himalayan region, and have been grown for over 5,000 years. All young mustard greens can be used as greens but the best varieties are considered to be the Chinese mustards (Brassica juncea var. rugosa) which are broad-leaved greens or the thin-leaved greens (Brassica juncea var. foliosa). These varieties are often commonly called Indian mustard, leaf mustard, mustard cabbage, or gai choy. In Asia, they are used as often as spinach, dandelion, or beet greens. Eating mustard greens is said to benefit anyone from suffering asthma, stomach disorders, heart disease, and menopausal symptoms.
Sinigrin is a type of glucosinolate (another compound closely associated with cruciferous vegetables) that helps to decrease the production of AGEs (Advanced Glycation End-Products). Overproduction of AGE compounds can increase the chance of oxidative stress which has a proven link to age-related diseases and most cancers. Sinigrin is present in both mustard leaves and seeds.
Mustard seed essential oil is made from pressing the seeds to make oil. The oil is very popular in Eastern cooking. Real mustard oil is banned from cooking by the FDA as it contains erucic acid, a fatty acid that is not well metabolized and is considered toxic. Also, be aware that any type of mustard oil contaminated with argemone oil is considered dangerous to humans.
Mustard plants with high oil content are being used to produce biodiesel, with the left-over meal used as an effective pesticide.
Canola is a mustard seed oil, from the rape plant, a mustard species. The word Canola comes from “Canada Oil Seed, Low-Acid” which was its experimental name. The oil has been marketed as a healthy food-friendly oil, but it contains erucic acid that is toxic to many people and must be removed. The refining process increases the amount of unhealthy chemicals and trans fats. In its natural state, rapeseed oil when used for cooking can cause lung cancer. There are no long-term studies on the use of canola oil but it is presumed to be safe by manufacturers of the commercial product. It is not an oil recommended by health care practitioners.
Many agricultural departments classify mustard as poisonous because if cattle eat too much they can become ill with stomach irritations. Mustard can also make dairy milk unsellable because it will flavor the milk.
Farmers prefer late-flowering varieties, which do not produce seeds and then become weeds the following year.
In Early Christian traditions, a grain of mustard is associated with the notion of small things growing larger and thriving. The flower is also viewed as a symbol of the cross as it has four petals that look like a cross. In India, mustard is a symbol of growth and generation. During the Middle Ages, it was used to expel demons. It remains a symbol for overcoming obstacles.
Canada is the world’s largest exporter of mustard seed and among the top 5 producers in the world.
Mustard seeds can be sprouted and used in salads, sandwiches, or as a garnish.
Mustard is one of the four top sources of phenols. These are compounds that have significant antioxidant properties.
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