Common Name(S): Brown mustard: Brassica juncea (L.) Czern. et Cross. and B. nigra (L.) Koch. White mustard: Sinapis alba L. synonymous with Brassica alba. Family: Cruciferae or Brassicaceae. Other common names by which mustards are known include Chinese mustard (S. juncea), Indian mustard (B. juncea), yellow mustard (S. alba), and black mustard (B. nigra).
Botany: The mustards are annual or bienniel herbs that grow from 3 to 9 feet in height. All common mustards are cultivated worldwide. The dried ripe seed is used commercially.Ground mustard, derived from the powdered mustard seed, is known as mustard flour. It may consist of a mixture of brown, black or white seeds. The more pungent mustards are derived from seeds from which the fixed oil has been removed.
History: Mustard and its oil have been used for the topical treatment of rheumatisms and arthritis and as foot baths for aching feet. Internally, they have been used as appetite stimulants, emetics and diuretics. When black mustard is prepared as a condiment with vinegar, salt and water, the product is properly termed German prepared mustard. Sinapis alba seeds, prepared in a similar manner but without spices, are known as English mustard. Mustards are grown extensively as forage crops.
Uses of Mustard:
Mustard is used as food, flavoring, forage, emetic, diuretic, topical treatment for arthritis and rheumatism, etc. It contains antineoplastic agents.
Side Effects of Mustard:
The oil is highly irritating and should be considered toxic. Mustard compounds have been implicated in development of goiter.
Pharmacology/Toxicology: Allyl isothiocyanate is a powerful irritant and blistering agent. It has counterirritant properties and induces lacrimation. It is one of the most toxic essential oils and should not be tasted or inhaled undiluted.
Isothiocyanate compounds such as those found in mustard and other Brassicaceae have been implicated in the development of endemic goiter and have been shown to produce goiter in laboratory animals.
Derivatives of allyl isothiocyanate have formed the basis for toxic agents such as the "mustard gasses" and antineoplastic agents.
Because of its topical irritant effects, mustard has been used as a rubifacient and irritant; mustard plasters are prepared by mixing mustard with flour or other material to make a paste for topical application.
Summary: The pungent flavor of the mustard seeds has made it one of the most widely used spices in the Western world. The mustards have been used in traditional medicine, primarily as topical counterirritants and continue to find some use in a poultice (commonly but inappropriately described as a mustard plaster). The oil is highly irritating and should be considered toxic.
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