Mustard (Brassica alba, Brassica juncea, Brassica nigra)
Natural Standard Bottom Line Monograph, Copyright © 2013 (www.naturalstandard.com). Commercial distribution prohibited. This monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. You should consult with a qualified healthcare provider before making decisions about therapies and/or health conditions.
While some complementary and alternative techniques have been studied scientifically, high-quality data regarding safety, effectiveness, and mechanism of action are limited or controversial for most therapies. Whenever possible, it is recommended that practitioners be licensed by a recognized professional organization that adheres to clearly published standards. In addition, before starting a new technique or engaging a practitioner, it is recommended that patients speak with their primary healthcare provider(s). Potential benefits, risks (including financial costs), and alternatives should be carefully considered. The below monograph is designed to provide historical background and an overview of clinically-oriented research, and neither advocates for or against the use of a particular therapy.
Adenine phosphoribosyltransferase, allyl cyanide, allyl isothiocyanate, allyl thiocyanate, allylamine, alpha-linolenic acid (ALNA), amylase, apigenin, ascorbic acid, behenic acid, beta-amylase, beta-glucuronidase, black mustard, blue-light photoreceptors, brassic acid, Brassica, Brassica alba, Brassica juncea, Brassica nigra, Brassica sinapistrum, Brassica synapoides, Brassicaceae (family), brassicin, brassilexin, brassin, brown mustard, carbohydrates, charlock, Chinese mustard, cis-monounsaturated fatty acids, cruciferin proteins, crystalline antithiamine factor, cysteine, DazitolTM, erucic acid, fatty acids, flavonoid tetraglycosides, flavonoids, fructose, fu-tsai, gallic acid, gamma-thionin proteins (M1, M2A, and M2B), glucoiberin, gluconapin, glucoraphanin, glucosinolates, glutamic acid, glutamine, glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase, glyoxalase I, hydroxycinnamic acid diglycosides, hydroxycinnamic acid monoglycosides (gentiobioses), Indian mustard, iron, isorhamnetin 7-O-glucoside, isothiocyanates, juncin, kaempferol, glucopyranoside, leaf mustard, lipids, low-mass volatile components, methylselenocysteine, methylselenomethionine, mucilage, mustard greens, mustard oil, mustard trypsin inhibitor 2 (MTI-2), myrosin, myrosinases, napins, nitrogen, oleic acid, omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid, pentahydroxy chalcones, pentahydroxy flavones, phenolic antioxidants, phenols, phenylalanine ammonia-lyase, phospholipase D, phthalic acid esters, p-hydroxybenzoylcholine, p-hydroxybenzyl isothiocyanate (PBH), p-hydroxybenzylamine, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, potassium, proline, protein, rai (Hindi), rhamnogalacturonan, salicylic acid, SAP 104, selenium, selenomethionine, sinalbin (4-hydroxybenzylglucosinolate), sinalbin A, sinalbin B, sinalbin-degrading enzyme, sinapic acid, sinapine, Sinapis alba, Sinapis arvensis, sinigrin, S-nitrosylated proteins, stearic acid, suan-tsai, sulfur, Synapis alba, Synapis negra, takana, tannic acid, thiocyanate, trichomes, tricresyl phosphate, vitamin A, vitamin C, white mustard, yellow mustard.
Mustard plants come from several plant species (genera Brassica and Sinapis). The most common types of mustard are Sinapis alba (also called Brassica alba, yellow mustard, or white mustard) and Brassica juncea (also called brown mustard or Indian mustard). Black mustard (Brassica nigra) fell out of use in commercial mustard products in the 1950s.
Mustard has a long history of use. Traditionally, mustard or mustard oil have been used as a treatment for stomach and intestinal disorders and diabetes, as a natural antibacterial agent, to stimulate vomiting, and as a massage oil to improve blood circulation, muscular development, and skin texture. Mustard plaster (a mixture of flour and mustard powder) has been traditionally applied to the chest and abdomen to promote healing. Today, the primary use of mustard is as a condiment.
The pungency of mustard comes from its isothiocyanate compounds. Mustard oil is a pungent plant extract from mustard seed, horseradish, and wasabi, and its main constituent is allyl isothiocyanate. Although it is used in India and elsewhere as a cooking oil, high doses injected or applied topically can cause irritation and inflammation.
There is limited human evidence in support of the use of mustard plaster for bronchitis or for the use of mustard oil in prevention of heart attack. Evidence is conflicting as to whether mustard oil is effective at lowering cholesterol levels or as to its beneficial effects as a massage agent in infants. At this time, high-quality human trials in support of the use of mustard or mustard oil for any indication are limited. Better-designed clinical trials are needed before recommendations can be made regarding taking mustard for any condition.
These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
In human study, a plaster containing white mustard seed was as effective as a traditional Chinese bronchitis treatment. Additional study is needed in this area.
Heart attack (acute myocardial infarction)
In human study, mustard oil consumption in the diet of patients with a heart attack resulted in a decrease in further heart problems. In further dietary study, consumption of mustard oil, as well as other foods (vegetables, legumes, walnuts, almonds, whole grains, and soybean oil) resulted in reduced risk of heart attack and deaths due to heart problems. Additional study is needed in this area.
In human study, inclusion of mustard oil in the diet resulted in little benefit in terms of cholesterol levels. Additional study is needed in this area.
Infant development / neonatal care
Mustard oil is used topically in newborn care as part of a traditional oil massage for neonates in many developing countries. Reasons include promotion of strength, maintenance of health, and provision of warmth. In human study, daily massage with oils, including mustard oil, improved growth and postmassage sleep in infants. However, in animal study topical mustard oil caused toxic effects on the skin. Additional study is needed in this area.
*Key to grades:A: Strong scientific evidence for this use; B: Good scientific evidence for this use; C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use; D: Fair scientific evidence against this use (it may not work); F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likely does not work).
The below uses are based on tradition or scientific theories. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious and should be evaluated by a qualified health care professional.
Antiaging, antibacterial, antifungal, antimicrobial, antioxidant, antiviral, arthritis, asthma, blood circulation stimulant, blood vessel dilation, burns, cancer, detoxification, diabetes, digestion, diuretic, duodenal ulcer, ear infection, emetic, food preservation, gastric acid reduction, gastric ulcer, high blood pressure, high blood sugar/glucose intolerance, laxative, lupus, mosquito repellent, pain relief, parasites, respiratory problems, ringworm (tinea capitis), skin conditions, stomach problems.
The below doses are based on scientific research, publications, traditional use, or expert opinion. Many herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested, and safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients, even within the same brand. The below doses may not apply to all products. You should read product labels, and discuss doses with a qualified healthcare provider before starting therapy.
Adults (18 years and older)
Three tablespoons of powdered mustard has traditionally been used to induce vomiting. 14 grams of dry mustard has been used as a laxative.
For high cholesterol, mustard oil as 25% of total energy intake has been used for eight weeks. For heart benefits, 2.9 grams of mustard oil has been used daily for one year.
For bronchitis, a plaster containing mustard (one teaspoon of flour with ½ teaspoon of mustard) has been applied to the chest for eight hours.
Children (younger than 18 years)
In infants, 20 milliliters of mustard oil has been massaged onto the skin daily for four weeks. Caution is advised, as some reports have warned that application of mustard oil to the skin of infants is potentially toxic.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.
People with a known allergy or hypersensitivity to mustard and other members of the Brassicaceae family (e.g., cabbage, cauliflower, turnip, Chinese cabbage, rapeseed, radish, or horseradish), nuts, legumes, corn, Rosaceae fruit, mugwort pollen, turnip rape, Brazil nut, peach, melon, or cashews should avoid mustard and mustard oil. Also, children with sensitivities to cow's milk, egg, wheat, and pollens (birch, timothy, or mugwort), should avoid mustard, as they are more likely to react to mustard and rapeseed. Both local (e.g., skin) and whole body reactions, such as anaphylaxis, are possible. Respiratory (e.g., nose, sinus, and lung) reactions are also possible.
Side Effects and Warnings
Mustard oil applied to the skin may increase pain sensitivity, burns, inflammation, itching, rash, and coloring changes (pigmentation). Breathing in ground mustard seeds may cause airway irritation and inflammation.
Mustard may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised in patients with diabetes or hypoglycemia and in those taking drugs, herbs, or supplements that affect blood sugar. Blood glucose levels may need to be monitored by a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist. Medication adjustments may be necessary.
Mustard may decrease the risk of bleeding. Caution is advised in patients with bleeding disorders or those taking drugs that affect bleeding. Dosing adjustments may be necessary.
Use cautiously in patients with cardiovascular conditions, cancer, gastrointestinal conditions, and iodine deficiency.
Avoid the use of mustard oil in high doses.
Mustard should be purchased from trusted sources to avoid consumption of mustard plants grown in soils contaminated with heavy metal or other toxins. Wash mustard leaves carefully before use.
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
Large amounts of mustard or mustard oil should be used cautiously in pregnant women, due to lack of safety information. Use of mustard in food preparation is likely safe.
Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.
Interactions with Drugs
Mustard may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised when using medications that may also lower blood sugar. Patients taking drugs for diabetes by mouth or taking insulin should be monitored closely by a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist. Medication adjustments may be necessary.
Mustard may decrease the risk of bleeding. Caution is advised when taking drugs that affect bleeding. Some examples include aspirin, anticoagulants (blood thinners) such as warfarin (Coumadin®) or heparin, antiplatelet drugs such as clopidogrel (Plavix®), and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen (Motrin®, Advil®) or naproxen (Naprosyn®, Aleve®).
Mustard may also interact with antibiotics, antifungals, anticancer agents, antivirals, agents which affect the immune system, antidepressants (monoamine oxidase inhibitor drugs), anti-inflammatory agents, blood vessel dilating drugs, calcium channel blockers, cardiovascular agents, cholesterol-lowering drugs, gastrointestinal agents, mosquito-repelling agents, laxatives, painkillers, radiation therapy, skin agents, steroids, and tobacco.
Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements
Mustard may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised when using herbs or supplements that may also lower blood sugar. Blood glucose levels may require monitoring, and doses may need adjustment.
Mustard may decrease the risk of bleeding. Caution is advised when taking herbs and supplements that are believed to affect bleeding, such as Ginkgo biloba, garlic, and saw palmetto. Numerous other agents may theoretically affect bleeding, although this has not been proven in most cases.
Mustard may also interact with antibacterials, antifungals, anticancer herbs and supplements, antivirals, herbs and supplements that affect the immune system, antidepressants, anti-inflammatory herbs and supplements, antioxidants, blood vessel dilating herbs and supplements, calcium channel blockers, cardiovascular herbs and supplements, cholesterol-lowering herbs and supplements, gastrointestinal herbs and supplements, iron, mosquito-repelling herbs and supplements, laxatives, painkillers, herbs and supplements used for the skin, steroidal herbs and supplements, and tobacco.
This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).
Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.
Agarwal KN, Gupta A, Pushkarna R, et al. Effects of massage & use of oil on growth, blood flow & sleep pattern in infants. Indian J Med Res 2000;112:212-217. View Abstract
Ansari MA and Razdan RK. Relative efficacy of various oils in repelling mosquitoes. Indian J Malariol 1995;32(3):104-111. View Abstract
Darmstadt GL, Mao-Qiang M, Chi E, et al. Impact of topical oils on the skin barrier: possible implications for neonatal health in developing countries. Acta Paediatr 2002;91(5):546-554. View Abstract
Huo, G. R., Ma, L. Q., and Huang, C. H. [Clinical study on treatment of chronic bronchitis by tracheitis plaster]. Zhongguo Zhong.Xi.Yi.Jie.He.Za Zhi. 2001;21(11):816-818. View Abstract
Jorro G, Morales C, Braso JV, et al. Mustard allergy: three cases of systemic reaction to ingestion of mustard sauce. J Investig.Allergol.Clin.Immunol 1995;5(1):54-56. View Abstract
Kim MG and Lee HS. Growth-inhibiting activities of phenethyl isothiocyanate and its derivatives against intestinal bacteria. J Food Sci 2009;74(8):M467-M471. View Abstract
Kohl PK and Frosch PJ. Irritant contact dermatitis induced by a mustard compress. Contact Dermatitis 1990;23(3):189-190. View Abstract
Lippe IT, Stabentheiner A, and Holzer P. Role of nitric oxide in the vasodilator but not exudative component of mustard oil-induced inflammation in rat skin. Agents Actions 1993;38 Spec No:C22-C24. View Abstract
Mullany LC, Darmstadt GL, Khatry SK, et al. Traditional massage of newborns in Nepal: implications for trials of improved practice. J Trop.Pediatr 2005;51(2):82-86. View Abstract
Potter MJ, Bulstrode N, and Cussons P. A skin burn from culinary mustard. Burns 2003;29(5):495-496. View Abstract
Shankar SR, Yadav RK, Ray RB, et al. Serum lipid response to introducing ghee as a partial replacement for mustard oil in the diet of healthy young Indians. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol 2005;49(1):49-56. View Abstract
Shankar SR, Bijlani RL, Baveja T, et al. Effect of partial replacement of visible fat by ghee (clarified butter) on serum lipid profile. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol 2002;46(3):355-360. View Abstract
Singh RB, Niaz MA, Sharma JP, et al. Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of fish oil and mustard oil in patients with suspected acute myocardial infarction: the Indian experiment of infarct survival--4. Cardiovasc.Drugs Ther 1997;11(3):485-491. View Abstract
Singh RB, Dubnov G, Niaz MA, et al. Effect of an Indo-Mediterranean diet on progression of coronary artery disease in high risk patients (Indo-Mediterranean Diet Heart Study): a randomised single-blind trial. Lancet 11-9-2002;360(9344):1455-1461. View Abstract
Yadav SP, Vats V, Ammini AC, et al. Brassica juncea (Rai) significantly prevented the development of insulin resistance in rats fed fructose-enriched diet. J Ethnopharmacol 2004;93(1):113-116. View Abstract
Copyright © 2013 Natural Standard (www.naturalstandard.com)
The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.
March 22, 2017