By H. Zell (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Brassica alba -Mustard

Brassica nigra and Brassica alba have similar actions medicinally although we have included the growing information for white Mustard in this post.

Family: Cruciferae or Brassicaceae

Other names: White Mustard,Bonannia officinalis, Brassica alba,Brassica hirta, Sinapis foliosa,Sinapis alba,Black Mustard, Sinapis nigra, Sisymbrium nigrum, Brassica brachycarpa, Brassica sinapioides,Brassica nigra

Habitat: Cultivated in Europe and the USA. Europe – Mediterranean. Naturalized in Britain .A weed of arable and waste land, especially on calcareous soils.

The seed contains substances that irritate the skin and mucous membranes. The plant is possibly poisonous once the hazardsmallseedpods have formed. Mustard allergy possibly especially in children and adolescents. Retention of seeds possibly in intestines if taken internally.

Mustard seed is antibacterial, antifungal, appetizer, carminative, diaphoretic, digestive, diuretic, emetic, expectorant, rubefacient and stimulant. The seed has a cathartic action due to hydrolytic liberation of hydrogen sulphide. In China it is used in the treatment of coughs with profuse phlegm and tuberculosis, pleurisy. The seed is seldom used internally as a medicine in the west. Externally it is usually made into mustard plasters (using the ground seed), poultices or added to the bath water. It is used in the treatment of respiratory infections, arthritic joints, chilblains and skin eruptions etc. At a ratio of 1:3, the seed has an inhibitory action on the growth of fungus. Care should be exercised in using this remedy because the seed contains substances that are extremely irritant to the skin and mucous membranes. The leaves are carminative.

By H. Zell (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Description of Mustard:

Although White and Black mustard are interchangable for medicinal purposes we are giving details of White mustard as it is naturalized in the UK over a bigger area.

Brassica alba,White Mustard is a ANNUAL growing to 0.6 m (2ft) by 0.3 m (1ft in) at a fast rate.
It is hardy to zone 6 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from Jun to August, and the seeds ripen from Jul to September. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, flies, wind.

Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

Cultivation of Mustard:

Prefers a light well-drained soil. Succeeds on most soils when growing in a sunny position. For best production, it requires high nutrient soils with a high level of nitrogen, but it may be grown on a wide range of soils from light to heavy, growing best on relatively heavy sandy loamy soils. It is not suited to very wet soils. White mustard grows best where the annual precipitation varies from 35 to 179cm, annual temperature from 5.6 to 24.9°C and pH from 4.5 to 8.2. White mustard is a quick-growing long-day annual which prefers temperate climates with some humidity. It is sometimes cultivated, both in the garden and commercially, for its edible seed. The plant can withstand high temperatures, but very hot days during flowering and ripening may reduce seed setting and lower quality of seed. There are some named varieties. It is a very fast growing plant, but requires plenty of moisture for optimum growth. Seed yields are usually a bit less than 1 tonne per hectare, though experimental plantings have suggested that up to 8 tonnes per hectare is possible. White mustard is sometimes also grown as a seed sprout, usually with cress seeds (Lepidium sativum) to supply mustard and cress. This is a mixture of the two types of sprouted seeds, used when about 7 – 10 days old. The mustard seed should be sown three days before the cress seed. The plant is not very deep rooted, it self-sows freely when in a suitable site.

Propagation of Mustard:

Seed – sow in situ from early spring to late summer. Germination takes place in less than a week. The earlier sowings are for a seed crop, the later sowings are for edible leaves and green manure. When sowing seed for use in mustard and cress, the seed is soaked for about 12 hours in warm water and then placed in a humid position. Traditionally, it is sown in a tray on a thin layer of soil, or on some moist blotting paper, and the tray is placed in a warm dark place for a few days to encourage rapid and rather etiolated growth. The seedlings can then be placed in a lighter position for a couple more days to turn green before being eaten. The mustard seed should be sown about 3 – 4 days later than the cress for them both to be ready at the same time.

Collection: The ripe seed pods are collected in the late summer.

Culinary uses of Mustard:

Edible Parts: Leaves;  Oil;  Seed.
Edible Uses: Condiment;  Oil.

Leaves – raw or cooked. A hot pungent flavour, especially if eaten raw. Young leaves are used as a flavouring in mixed salads, whilst older leaves are used as a potherb. Seed – sprouted and eaten raw. The seed takes about 4 days to be ready. A hot flavour, it is often used in salads. A nutritional analysis is available. The seed can be ground into a powder and used as a food flavouring, it is the ‘white mustard’ of commerce. This is milder than the black mustard obtained from Brassica nigra. The pungency of mustard develops when cold water is added to the ground-up seed – an enzyme (myrosin) acts on a glycoside (sinigrin) to produce a sulphur compound. The reaction takes 10 – 15 minutes. Mixing with hot water or vinegar, or adding salt, inhibits the enzyme and produces a mild bitter mustard.


Figures in grams (g) or miligrams (mg) per 100g of food.

Seed (Dry weight)

  • 500 Calories per 100g
  • Water : 0%
  • Protein: 27.2g; Fat: 35g; Carbohydrate: 34g; Fibre: 6g; Ash: 4.5g;
  • Minerals – Calcium: 500mg; Phosphorus: 800mg; Iron: 16mg; Magnesium: 0mg; Sodium: 5mg; Potassium: 732mg; Zinc: 0mg;
  • Vitamins – A: 400mg; Thiamine (B1): 0.5mg; Riboflavin (B2): 0.37mg; Niacin: 8mg; B6: 0mg; C: 0mg;
mustard,Sinapis_Alba,Brassica_albaMedicinal uses of Mustard:

Actions: Rubefacient, irritant, stimulant, diuretic, emetic.

Part Used: The Seeds.

Indications:Mustard is well known spice has its main use in medicine as a stimulating external application. The rubefacient action causes a mild irritation to the skin, stimulating the circulation in that area and relieving muscular and skeletal pain. Its stimulating, diaphoretic action can be utilized in the way that Cayenne and Ginger are. For feverishnesscolds, and influenza, Mustard may be taken as a tea or ground and sprinkled into a bath. The stimulation of circulation will aid chilblains as well as the conditions already mentioned. An infusion or poultice of Mustard will aid in cases of bronchitis.

Preparations & Dosage:

Poultice: Mustard is most commonly used as a poultice or mustard plaster which can be made by mixing 100 grams (4 ounces) of freshly ground mustard seeds with warm water (at about 45 degrees C) to form a thick paste. This is spread on a piece of cloth the size of the body area that is to be covered. To stop the paste sticking to the skin, lay a dampened gauze on the skin. Apply the cloth and remove after 1 minute. The skin may be reddened by this treatment which can be eased by applying olive oil afterward.

Infusion: pour a cup of boiling water onto 1 teaspoonful of mustard flour and leave to infuse for 5 minutes. This may be drunk three times a day. Foot bath: make an infusion using 1 tablespoon of bruised seeds to 1 litre (2 pints) of boiling water.

Other uses of Mustard:

Green manure,  Oil.

The seed contains up to 35% of a semi-drying oil. It is used as a lubricant and for lighting etc. The plant can be grown as a green manure crop. It is very fast growing, producing a good bulk in just a few weeks from seed, but it is shallow rooted so does not do so well in dry periods.

Esoteric uses of Mustard:

Courage, faith, and endurance. Frequently used in voodoo charms. Carry a few grains in a small bag to guard against injury. Sprinkle red mustard seed around the house to ward off burglars. Use yellow mustard seed in an amulet to bring faith followed by success — this is one of the oldest known good luck amulets.

The Chemistry:


  • Glucosinolates; Black Mustard contains sinigrin, whichon hydrolysis by the enzyme myrosin produces allyisothiocyanate, and White Mustard sinalbin, which produces p-hydroxybenzyl isothiocyanate
  • Miscellaneous; sinapine, sinapic acid, fixed oil, protein, mucilage etc.