Mustard or sarshapa has been used in Ayurveda both as food and as a medicine.
Mustard leaf is considered a vegetable, while the seeds are used as a spice and constitute the source of mustard oil. Mustard belongs to the Crucifereae family.
There are several varieties of Mustard that are identified on the basis of their color.
Sushruta Samhita distinguishes Sarshapa and Rajika as the two varieties of mustard.
Other varieties mentioned in other texts are Sita, Asita, Rakta, Pita, Goura which may be merely variations in the color.
These classifications could reveal a correspondence with four varieties of mustard widely recognized today as brown mustard (Brassica campestris), black mustard (Brassica nigra) white mustard (Brassica alba) and Indian mustard (Brassica juncea). Brassica juncea, known as Indian mustard, is a definite botanical source of one of the mustards documented in Ayurvedic texts.
Properties of mustard
- Rasa (taste) – Katu (pungent), Tikta (bitter)
- Vipaka – Katu (pungent)
- Veerya (potency) – Ushna (hot)
- Guna (Properties of oil) – Tikshna (sharp) and Snighdha (oily)
- Properties of leaves – Ruksha (dry)
Effect on Dosha (energies), Dhatus (tissues) and Mala (metabolic wastes)
Due to hot potency, pungent and bitter taste, pungent vipaka, Mustard is anti-Kapha and helps cutting excessive Kapha energy. Due to its hot potency and oily nature it is anti-Vata. Due to its pungent taste and vipaka, hot potency and sharp nature it aggravates Pitta. In Ayurveda, for medicinal purposes, the seeds and oil of mustard are used either on their own or in various formulations.
Mustard seeds are included in the group of drugs that cleanse the cranial cavity (Shiro virechana Gana), are used for decoction enema (Asthapanopag Gana), have anti-pruritic effect (Kandughna Gana), induce emesis (Chardan Gana) and have a pungent taste (Katu Skandha)
External applications of Mustard seeds are more common than internal applications.
Externally, mustard seeds are applied as paste (pradeha), fumigant (dhupana), diaphoretic (svedana), massage powder (udvartana), scraping agent (pragharṣaṇa), poultice (upanaha) and for gargling (gaṇḍuṣa).
Mustard Seeds Can be Useful in Various Conditions, such as…
- cracked skin
- rheumatoid arthritis
- neurological disorders
- gynaecological disorders
- acne vulgaris
- Fungal infection or candidiasis in oral cavity
- jaundice and rhinitis
- cardiac disorders
Excess use of mustard oil is not good for Shukra dhatu – in males it may cause impotency and in females may cause excess bleeding. It is contraindicated for person dominated by the Pitta energy and when there is excess heat in the body or in hot weather. People with eye problems or after eye surgeries, must strictly avoid use of mustard oil as it is bad for eyesight.
Mustard oil and Massage
Mustard oil penetrates deep into the skin. Due to its hot potency, it is a powerful Ayurvedic remedy for treating excess Vata and Kapha problems. Since not everyone can bear mustard oil for massage, it can be diluted with coconut oil. It is excellent massage oil, especially in the winter, for keeping the body warm, muscles – relaxed, and for treating numbness or other Vata problems.
It can also be used to treat rheumatism, lumbago, back pain and muscle ache.
Mustard oil for Cooking
Mustard oil has in general pungent taste and hot potency. It improves digestion, has a scraping effect (Lekhan) and is useful in managing diseases caused by Kapha, build-up of fat and derangement of Vata.
Cold-press and unrefined mustard oil is a good option for cooking purposes. One must remember its hot potency while cooking, so a person dominated by the Pitta energy, should not use it more frequently or should be cautious. A combination of Mustard and turmeric makes the potency hotter, and that combination should therefore be avoided unless recommended by your Ayurveda expert.
The use of mustard oil for cooking is recommended for those who have elevated lipid levels, cardiac disorders, diabetes, skin diseases and infections, swellings and growths. In filariasis, mustard oil is recommended for internal application with a juice made of the leaves of Pongamia glabra. Mustard oil is specifically contraindicated for enema.
Mustard Oil and Skin
Mustard oil is an effective antifungal, anti-parasitic, antibacterial, disinfecting and antimicrobial oil that protects the skin against infections, prevents wounds from getting septic and heals minor skin problems like cuts, athlete’s foot, ringworm, insect bites, small lacerations, abrasions etc.
Mustard oil and Hair
Mustard oil is extremely good for hair. Applying mustard oil on your scalp can vitalize your hair follicles and can correct pigmentation problems, this way it can help maintaining natural dark hairs for long.
The essential fatty acids like linoleic acid (an omega-6 fatty acid), and certain other components present in this oil, make it an effective natural remedy for treating hair loss due to fungal infections, premature greying, dull and lifeless hair.
How to Use Mustard Oil on Scalp?
Use one tablespoon of mustard oil and dilute it with coconut oil or sesame oil as per your constitution, gently massage with this blended oil on your scalp. Leave this blend for about an hour before washing it with herbal shampoo or shikakai. It is nourishing, natural conditioning for hair, reduces hair fall, improves blood circulation and strengthens the roots. Caution should be taken to avoid mustard oil getting in contact with the eyes or the mucous membrane in the nose.
Mustad oil and respiratory system
Mustard oil is generally used as a mucolytic in many parts of the world. It is effective in breaking up mucous deposits and helps sinus drainage in cases of chronic sinusitis. Due to its antimicrobial property, mustard oil helps in combating other respiratory problems like bronchitis, asthma and tuberculosis.
According to Ayurveda, respiratory problems like cold, cough, sinusitis, bronchitis and asthma are caused by imbalance or increased Kapha dosha, which accounts for fluid retention, congestion, phlegm and mucous deposits.
Mustard oil due to its pungent taste and hot potency is known to pacify and reduce Kapha and it is used as an excellent Ayurvedic remedy for treating such respiratory problems. Chest massage with mustard oil followed by steam can loosen mucous deposits by removing phlegm from lungs and respiratory tract and help achieve trouble-free breathing.
Mustard Oil and Vata (Neurological) Problems
Mustard oil is useful in chronic arthritis, tingling and numbness of limbs, musculoskeletal pains like backache, tremor.