Brassica alba and Brassica nigra, Cruciferae. The seeds are the part of the plant used. The fresh leaves can also be eaten as a part of a salad.

The ripe seed pods are gathered in late summer. Tap the seeds out and dry in a thin layer. The fresh leaves are picked whenever they are needed.

Functions of mustard

The main use of mustard in medicine is as an external stimulating application. Mustard:

  • causes a mild irritation to the skin which stimulates circulation to the area and relieves muscular and skeletal pain. Stimulating the circulation will aid in chilblains.
  • can be used to ease aching and tired feet. A foot bath can be made - leaving it until it is warm and then immersing the feet in the infusion.
  • infused oil can be placed on joints to ease the pain in rheumatoid and osteoarthritis.
  • the mustard leaves are high in vitamins A, C and E and can be added to salads. Eating fresh mustard leaves will purify and strengthen the blood.

Notes on mustard

  • Mustard acts by irritating the skin and therefore increases the blood supply to the area. Do not apply to the skin for too long or too often as blistering may occur. If an irritation does occur rub the area with olive oil.
  • Large internal doses may irritate the intestinal linings.
  • Long term internal use may also damage the kidneys and prostate.


Poultice: mustard is most commonly used as a poultice which can be made by mixing 100gms (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 area 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 will be reddened after this treatment. This can be eased by the application of olive oil to the area.

Infusion: pour a cup of boiling water onto 1 teaspoonful of mustard flour and leave to infuse for 5 minutes. This should be drunk three times per day.

Foot bath: make an infusion using 1 tablespoon of bruised seeds to 1 litre (2 pints) of boiling water. Leave the infusion until it is warm before it is used.

For the gardener

Mustard plants are annuals. They will grow the best in humus rich, light sandy soils that are well drained.


Hoffmann, D. 2000, The New Holistic Herbal. Element Pub.

Woodward, P. 2003, Grow Your Own Herbal Remedies. Hyland House.




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