Mustard plants come from several plant species (genera Brassica and Sinapis). The most common types of mustard are Sinapis alba (also called Brassica alba, yellow mustard, or white mustard) and Brassica juncea (also called brown mustard or Indian mustard). Black mustard (Brassica nigra) fell out of use in commercial mustard products in the 1950s.
Mustard has a long history of use. Traditionally, mustard or mustard oil have been used as a treatment for stomach and intestinal disorders and diabetes, as a natural antibacterial agent, to stimulate vomiting, and as a massage oil to improve blood circulation, muscular development, and skin texture. Mustard plaster (a mixture of flour and mustard powder) has been traditionally applied to the chest and abdomen to promote healing. Today, the primary use of mustard is as a condiment.
The pungency of mustard comes from its isothiocyanate compounds. Mustard oil is a pungent plant extract from mustard seed, horseradish, and wasabi, and its main constituent is allyl isothiocyanate. Although it is used in India and elsewhere as a cooking oil, high doses injected or applied topically can cause irritation and inflammation.
There is limited human evidence in support of the use of mustard plaster for bronchitis or for the use of mustard oil in prevention of heart attack. Evidence is conflicting as to whether mustard oil is effective at lowering cholesterol levels or as to its beneficial effects as a massage agent in infants. At this time, high-quality human trials in support of the use of mustard or mustard oil for any indication are limited. Better-designed clinical trials are needed before recommendations can be made regarding taking mustard for any condition.

Related Terms

Adenine phosphoribosyltransferase, allyl cyanide, allyl isothiocyanate, allyl thiocyanate, allylamine, alpha-linolenic acid (ALNA), amylase, apigenin, ascorbic acid, behenic acid, beta-amylase, beta-glucuronidase, black mustard, blue-light photoreceptors, brassic acid, Brassica, Brassica alba, Brassica juncea, Brassica nigra, Brassica sinapistrum, Brassica synapoides, Brassicaceae (family), brassicin, brassilexin, brassin, brown mustard, carbohydrates, charlock, Chinese mustard, cis-monounsaturated fatty acids, cruciferin proteins, crystalline antithiamine factor, cysteine, DazitolTM, erucic acid, fatty acids, flavonoid tetraglycosides, flavonoids, fructose, fu-tsai, gallic acid, gamma-thionin proteins (M1, M2A, and M2B), glucoiberin, gluconapin, glucoraphanin, glucosinolates, glutamic acid, glutamine, glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase, glyoxalase I, hydroxycinnamic acid diglycosides, hydroxycinnamic acid monoglycosides (gentiobioses), Indian mustard, iron, isorhamnetin 7-O-glucoside, isothiocyanates, juncin, kaempferol, glucopyranoside, leaf mustard, lipids, low-mass volatile components, methylselenocysteine, methylselenomethionine, mucilage, mustard greens, mustard oil, mustard trypsin inhibitor 2 (MTI-2), myrosin, myrosinases, napins, nitrogen, oleic acid, omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid, pentahydroxy chalcones, pentahydroxy flavones, phenolic antioxidants, phenols, phenylalanine ammonia-lyase, phospholipase D, phthalic acid esters, p-hydroxybenzoylcholine, p-hydroxybenzyl isothiocyanate (PBH), p-hydroxybenzylamine, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, potassium, proline, protein, rai (Hindi), rhamnogalacturonan, salicylic acid, SAP 104, selenium, selenomethionine, sinalbin (4-hydroxybenzylglucosinolate), sinalbin A, sinalbin B, sinalbin-degrading enzyme, sinapic acid, sinapine, Sinapis alba, Sinapis arvensis, sinigrin, S-nitrosylated proteins, stearic acid, suan-tsai, sulfur, Synapis alba, Synapis negra, takana, tannic acid, thiocyanate, trichomes, tricresyl phosphate, vitamin A, vitamin C, white mustard, yellow mustard.

evidence table

These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
Chronic bronchitis (Grade: C)
In human study, a plaster containing white mustard seed was as effective as a traditional Chinese bronchitis treatment. Additional study is needed in this area.
Heart attack (acute myocardial infarction) (Grade: C)
In human study, mustard oil consumption in the diet of patients with a heart attack resulted in a decrease in further heart problems. In further dietary study, consumption of mustard oil, as well as other foods (vegetables, legumes, walnuts, almonds, whole grains, and soybean oil) resulted in reduced risk of heart attack and deaths due to heart problems. Additional study is needed in this area.
High cholesterol (Grade: C)
In human study, inclusion of mustard oil in the diet resulted in little benefit in terms of cholesterol levels. Additional study is needed in this area.
Infant development / neonatal care (Grade: C)
Mustard oil is used topically in newborn care as part of a traditional oil massage for neonates in many developing countries. Reasons include promotion of strength, maintenance of health, and provision of warmth. In human study, daily massage with oils, including mustard oil, improved growth and postmassage sleep in infants. However, in animal study topical mustard oil caused toxic effects on the skin. Additional study is needed in this area.