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Mustard seed potent ancient medicine

By Sari Huhtala

Who would have thought the yellow mustard you were squirting on your burger, or the Dijon mustard you add to your favourite salad dressing, is providing you with a dose of anti-cancer, anti-fungal, pathogen-protecting phytonutrients and antioxidants. Mustard powder is a medicine cabinet must-have.

It’s hard to imagine the humble mustard seed, a key ingredient when making any mustard, has its roots deep in ancient healing and Ayurvedic medicine, and, in scientific studies, has been found to inhibit cancer cell growth in breast, colon, lung and skin tissue in animal studies.  

A 2010 scientific review in the journal Molecular Nutrition and Food Research found allyl isothiocyanate (AITC), a naturally occurring compound in cruciferous vegetables, including mustard and horseradish, exhibits anticancer activity in both cultured cancer cells and animal models, and its antimicrobial activity helps protect against a “wide spectrum of pathogens.”

Prepared mustard is made by grinding mustard seeds into a powder. While mustard greens, the super nutritious leaves from the actual mustard plant, have been used for centuries in food and medicine. Mustard seeds are powerful ancient Ayurvedic medicine, according to a 2009 review – Mustard and its uses in Ayurveda – which appeared in the Indian Journal of Traditional Knowledge.

In Ayurvedic medicine, the seeds, which pack an impressive nutritional profile, were taken internally as a detox, and the seeds have been commonly used externally to create a paste or a poultice for fever, swelling, rheumatoid arthritis, leprosy, wasting diseases, wounds, acnes, and some skin diseases.

Grandma may have used mustard paste to ward off colds and flu. Mustard powder, made by grinding mustard seeds, is considered one of the top home remedies for coughing and congestion, cold and the flu, and pain issues like arthritis and back pain.

As an ancient remedy, a paste made by combining one tablespoon of mustard powder, with three tablespoons flour and half a tablespoon of water, was used to stop a cold in its tracks, according to the book Ancient Healing Secrets.

At the first sign of a cold, make the mustard paste, or mustard plaster, add a touch of oil to each heel to protect against the heat the mustard will create, and apply the paste to the heels of the feet, or create a poultice from the paste using cloth. Once paste has been applied to the heels, wrap flannel around the feet to keep the heat in. Put on socks. The feet will become very hot. Wash off if it becomes too hot and uncomfortable. Otherwise allow plaster to do its job, bringing blood to the surface of the skin to start healing the body, for up to two hours, then wash off, and head to bed.

Look for mustard powder at a grocery store, a specialty food store or bulk food store. When buying Dijon mustard seek out the type with the least ingredients. For example, Hellmans Dijonaise Mustard is made with: water, mustard seeds, distilled vinegar, soybean oil, modified corn starch, salt, sugar, white wine, egg whites, canola oil, spices, sodium benzoate, tartaric acid, EDTA, xanthan gum, colour (likely tartrazine). While Selections brand Dijon Mustard is made with: water, mustard seeds, vinegar, salt and turmeric.

(This information is not intended to replace medical advice and treatment from a health care practitioner).

Photo credit: ©YelenaYemchuk via Canva.com

Sari Huhtala is the creator, publisher and editor of Alive and Fit Magazine. She has over 25 years experience in journalism and over 15 years experience as a certified personal trainer and fitness instructor. She is an organic farmer, wild-crafter and grandmother, who has spent over 20 years of navigating a holistic, healthy path for her family.

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