An Herb For Thought: Mustard


An Herb For Thought: Mustard | mustard-display | An Herb For Thought Natural Health Natural Medicine

Used since ancient times; it can be found growing wild in many parts of the world as it is widely cultivated. It is grown in just about every area of North America except the far northern parts, and can grow up to eight feet in height.

There are many varieties of mustard; they all have very pungent flavors. Some medicinal mustard compounds date back to at least 400 B.C. The name is derived from the Latin, mustum. Other names for mustard are white mustard, yellow mustard, pepper grass, and hedge mustard.

Mustard is the second most popular spice traded around the world. Pepper is the first.

Use of Mustard Seed

Mustard helps to stimulate blood flow and is known to improve circulation. It is believed to have strong aphrodisiac powers and has been included in many love potions. Because it is warming to the skin it is often used to relieve sore joints and muscles when used as a mustard plaster.

As early as 1699, it was claimed that mustard seed could strengthen the memory, expel heaviness, and revive the spirits. Mustard seed was recommended in 1653 for toothaches, joint pain, skin problems, and stomach aches. Mustard plasters are used to clear up chest congestion and relieve arthritic and rheumatoid pain and soreness.

Mustard seed is used to strengthen the digestive system as it can stimulate the flow of gastric juices so to aid with digestion and metabolizing fat in the body as well as encouraging a healthy appetite. While it calms the stomach it can also act as a laxative. It has also been used to cure stubborn hiccups.

Since mustard seed is a stimulant it will warm the circulatory system. This can result in dilated blood vessels, plus a warmed system can help burn and metabolize fat in the body. As a warming herb, mustard seed will encourage perspiration that can lower fevers and cleanse the body of toxins. This could help the body fight colds and flu.

Mustard seed extract can be rubbed on the back to relieve back pain and spasms. It will warm the body when rubbed on sore joints and muscles thereby providing relief and loosening tightness.

Mustard seed has been used as an emetic (a substance that promotes vomiting) for centuries. It will allow for the elimination of everything in the stomach without depleting the system.

White mustard seed can be consumed as a tea or sprinkled in bath water to help with chest congestion and colds.

Mustard Plasters

Mustard plasters and poultices are tried and true remedies to relieve arthritic joints, sciatica, neck pain, backache, neuralgia, and muscle pain. The mustard plasters work by dilating the blood vessels to promote the increase of blood flow to the surface of the skin. This warms the affected area and removes any toxins from that area. Poultices and plasters are also used to relieve respiratory infections and helps treat chest congestion, pneumonia, bronchitis, and croup.

A mustard plaster is made by using 4 tablespoons of flour, 2 tablespoons dry mustard, and lukewarm water. A paste is made that is easily spread but not too watery.

The most effective way to apply any poultice is to use 100 percent flannel and spread the mixture over on half of the flannel and fold the other half to make a package. Apply the poultice to the chest, cover with a heavy blanket to encourage sweating. Do not apply the mustard plaster directly to the skin as it will burn.

The mustard plaster should be left on for up to 20 minutes. If the skin turns red remove the plaster immediately.

Once it has been removed from the chest, wipe the area thoroughly. Then use the same method to apply to the back. A warm shower will be good after the poultice is removed.

Though modern medicine has mostly replaced the use of mustard plasters, those who use them know that it is a great way to draw respiratory toxins from the body in a natural way. The plasters also work on sore muscles, gout, sore backs, and poor circulation, but as always, we recommend you check with your physician, nutritionist or holistic healer before attempting to use any method posted in this column, as people have different needs and allergies.

A Mustard Seed Recipe

Basmati Rice and Mustard-Seed Pilaf

Serves 4

This recipe can be prepared in 45 minutes or less.


  • 2 shallots
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons mustard seeds
  • 2/3 cup white basmati rice
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Thinly slice shallots and in a 2-quart heavy saucepan cook in oil over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until golden. Stir in mustard seeds and cook until they begin to pop. Add rice and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add water and salt and bring to a boil. Cook pilaf, covered, over low heat until rice is tender and water is absorbed, about 25 minutes. Fluff rice with a fork.

Nutritional Information

Each serving about 125 calories and 2 grams fat.

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