The parable of the mustard seed was the first glimpse into the might of this tiny food.
Now modern science has shown that size doesn’t matter when it comes to food and proves that something so small can have large implications for human health.
Used often in a variety of cuisines, mustard seeds add a little zip to other foods. The mustard plant is a member of the cruciferous family of vegetables: broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale. These have been clinically shown to have cancer-fighting properties as well as an aid to digestive health.
The nutrient content of the mustard seed is impressive, with vitamins A, B1 (thiamine), C, and K; minerals calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, and selenium; and phytonutrients such as allyl isothiocyanate, which has been found to inhibit cancer in rats. Other phytonutrients like beta carotene in mustard seed help to stimulate hair growth and reduce loss.
Health Benefits & Treatment
Mustard seeds can be used medically in various forms, depending on the treatment–powder, oil, or whole seed.
Mustard seed powder has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries to improve circulation and detoxify when used topically (maybe you’ve heard your grandmother talk about applying a mustard plaster to relieve muscle and joint pain).
Soaking in a mustard bath can do the trick for your whole body at once, leaving you relaxed and soothed; if your water is chlorinated, add a tablespoon of vitamin C (ascorbic acid) to balance its effects:
- 1/4 cup baking soda
- 1 tablespoon mustard powder
- 1-2 drops wintergreen or peppermint essential oil
- 1-2 drops rosemary essential oil
- 1-2 drops eucalyptus essential oil
Place all ingredients in a glass jar and whisk or shake together (as long as the lid is airtight). Add to running water and swish around to disperse the powder. For just a foot soak, add 1-2 tablespoons of the mixture to water in a small basin.
Mustard oil can be used topically to stimulate hair growth and promote a healthy scalp. You can also use the oil as a rub in a small area to relieve arthritis pain.
Mustard Scalp Treatment
Massage 1 tablespoon mustard oil into the scalp. Wrap the head in a plastic bag for 30 minutes. Remove the bag and shampoo, styling as usual. Used once a week, you will begin to see the effects after just a few treatments.
As mentioned, mustard seeds pack a nutritious wallop. They contain more than their share of fiber, too, making them helpful for constipation. Eat 1 teaspoonful twice a day to get things rolling along.
In concentrating on the seeds, let us not forget to mention that mustard greens are incredibly nutritious, too, and add spice to many Eastern dishes. Whether cooked or raw, the greens of the mustard plant are a nice departure from humdrum, go-to greens like spinach.
Do beware: mustard oil has been banned for consumption in the U.S. because of its concentration of erucic acid (you can still get it for external applications).