Black Mustard (Brassica nigra)
Black mustard once referred only to the condiment made from the crushed seeds of the senvy plant. Eventually, the entire plant took on the name of the condiment. The mustard plant grows erect to a height of approximately 39 inches (about 1 meter). The stems are hairy and the leaves are lobed. Bright yellow flowers lead the way to the production of hairy pods that each contains about a dozen seeds.
Key Medicinal Uses
Internally Black mustard has been used in herbal remedies since ancient Greece ruled. Mustard can be used to induce vomiting and for respiratory troubles.
Externally Black mustard oil is a very strong irritant that can blister the skin when applied undiluted. By diluting the oil in a poultice or liniment, it becomes soothing, applying a warming sensation to the skin. Mustard plasters are still used today. Mustard used to be used for snake bites and scorpion stings, epilepsy, bruises, toothache and neck stiffness. It can be added to a bath for aches and pains.
Other Uses - Black mustard is used as a condiment, although since the plant does not work easily for mechanical harvesting, it is commonly replaced with brown mustard. Black mustard is one of the traditional ingredients for Dijon mustard, Bordeaux mustard, German mustard and Meaux mustard.
Seeds The seeds of the mustard plant are used medicinally and as a condiment.
Children under the age of 6 should not use mustard medicinally. With long term topical use, severe burns may occur. Poultices should be limited to 10 to 15 minutes for adults to prevent burning of the skin. Do not take unground seeds internally. They can become impacted in the lower bowel and a fatal inflammation may occur. Mustard should not be used for longer than 2 weeks at a time. Do not take with products that contain ammonia. Mustard is contraindicated for people suffering from gastrointestinal ulcers or nephrosis. Excessive doses of mustard taken internally can cause gastrointestinal distress.
Preparation and Dosage
The most common way to use black mustard is as a poultice. Mix 4 ounces of freshly ground mustard seeds in warm water. The mixture can be used as either a poultice or as a paste. A clean cloth the size of the site is covered with the mustard paste and the cloth is applied to the part of the body in question. You may choose to put damp gauze on the skin first to keep the paste from sticking. After one minute, remove the cloth. This application will redden the area. If it gets sore, olive oil can be applied afterwards.
An infusion of black mustard can be made by mixing 1 tablespoon of mustard flour with a cup of hot water. Let the herb infuse for 5 minutes. Drink this infusion three times a day.
For a footbath, 1 tablespoon of bruised seeds can be added to two pints (1 liter) of boiling water. Let the seeds infuse and cool a bit before soaking sore feet.