The health benefits of Mustard Essential Oil can be attributed to its properties like stimulant, irritant, appetizer, anti bacterial, anti fungal, insect repellant, hair vitalizer, cordial, diaphoretic, anti rheumatic and tonic.
Mustard Oil has contrary reputations in different parts of the world. It is very-very popular oil in the Indian Subcontinent, more precisely in the Eastern parts of India and in Bangladesh, as edible oil and is considered very healthy, whereas in the rest of the world, it is considered toxic, irritable and not suitable for edible purposes. In some parts of Europe, there is ban on selling of this oil and in some other; it is sold as massage oil only for external application.
Mustard Essential Oil is totally different from Mustard Oil (No! I don’t mean that it is extracted from anything else!), in terms of process of extraction, chemical composition and medicinal properties. Both of these are extracted from the seeds of Mustard which bears a scientific name Brassica Nigra (Black Mustard) or Brassica Hirta (White Mustard).
While Mustard Oil is extracted by cold compression of mustard seeds, its essential oil is extracted by steam distillation of mustard seeds soaked in water, and here is where the difference occurs. Mustard Seeds (Black or White) contain an enzyme called Myrosinase and a glucosinolate called Sinigrin. These two remain isolated in mustard seeds under normal conditions, but react when the seeds are subjected to pressure or heat. In presence of water, these two components react to form Allyl Isothiocyanate (in case of Black Mustard) and normal Isothiocyanate (in case of White Mustard), a toxic compound.
This Allyl Isothiocyanate, which is present in the Mustard Essential Oil by above 90% of volume, accompanied by certain fatty acids like Oleic Acid, Linoleic Acid and Erucic Acid, may prove to be of certain health benefits discussed as under.
Stimulant: Mustard Essential Oil is a very strong stimulant, just like Mustard Oil. It is particularly effective in stimulating circulation, digestion and excretion. This oil, if used externally for massage, stimulates circulation very well. The effects are even visible. It stimulates digestion by stimulating secretion of gastric juices and bile from spleen and liver. The excretory system is also stimulated by this oil since the peristaltic motion of the intestines is stimulated.
Irritant: Although being an irritant is not viewed upon as beneficial, yet it can be beneficial in some cases too. Irritation is nothing but a way of reaction of an organ to an external agent. It also shows that the organ is responding to external stimuli. And here where the benefit is. This property can be used to bring back sensation to those organs which are suffering from numbness or lack of sensation. This property is also used to pump up muscles.
Appetizer: This essential acts as an appetizer and boosts up huger. This again, can be a side effect of the irritant and stimulant nature of Mustard Essential Oil. It irritates the inner lining stomach and intestines, stimulates digestive juices and gives a feeling of hunger.
Anti Bacterial: This essential oil has bactericidal or anti bacterial properties. Internally it fights bacterial infections in the colon, digestive system, excretory system, urinary tract etc. Externally applied, it can treat bacterial infections on skin.
Anti Fungal: This oil serves as an anti fungal agent, due to presence of Allyl Isothiocyanate. It does not allow fungal growth and also inhibits if there is any.
Insect Repellant: Insects and even some smaller animals avoid this oil and keep away from it. That is why Mustard Essential Oil acts as an insect repellant too. It can be used in fumigants and vaporizers to drive away insects.
Hair Vitalizer: The stimulating effects and the presence of certain fatty acids such as oleic acid and linoleic acid, when combined together, make Mustard Essential Oil an efficient hair vitalizer. Its stimulating effects increase blood circulation in the scalp while the fatty acids nourish the hair roots. It has been seen that prolonged use of this oil on hair may give it a brown tint but strengthens it and prevents hair fall effectively.
Cordial: The feeling of warmth that this oil gives makes it a cordial. It warms up the internal systems such as the respiratory system and protects it from formation and accumulation of phlegm. It also warms up the body in winter to some extent. This again, may be due to its stimulating and mild irritating effects.
Diaphoretic: It promotes sweating both when consumed and applied externally. It stimulates sweat glands to produce more sweat as well as enlarges the openings of the pores on skin. This property is helpful in lowering body temperature as well as removing toxins and excess salts and water from the body.
Tonic: This oil serves as an all-rounder tonic for the health. It tones up all the systems operating in the body, gives strength and boosts up immunity.
• Anti Rheumatic & Anti Arthritic: It gives good relief in rheumatism and arthritis and for long has been in use as a rub in such cases.
Other Benefits: It is beneficial in treating cold & cough, headache, congestion resulting from cold, aches and body-pain and for muscular growth. It is also used to rub on gums for strengthening them. This also protects teeth from germs. This oil also contains good percentage of OmegAlpha3 and OmegAlpha6 fatty acids, anti oxidants and vitamin-E which have their own benefits.
Few Words of Caution: Despite various adverse reports regarding its toxicity and warnings against usage by pregnant women, no such effects have been observed in India and Bangladesh where both mustard and its oil have been in use for centuries as edible stuff. At the same time, it is also true that this oil has irritating effects on the mucus membrane, although it may not be a threat otherwise. It may be difficult for them who are not habituated to this oil.