White Mustard – Sinapis alba

Mustard
Mustard

This annual member of the Mustard family is native of Europe and naturalized across North America. The flowers, which appear April to May, have a sweet, pleasing scent…but it is not noticeable unless several flowers are sniffed simultaneously! As an essential oil, Mustard oil is toxic causing skin and mucous membrane irritation.

The name mustard comes from the French grinding seed of the cabbage family in fresh pressed grape juice to make a “moust.” The term Moustarde was developed to describe this mixture that is often used in meat dishes. This is the white mustard of commerce.

In China the mustard is used in the treatment of coughs and TB, profuse phlegm and pleurisy. Here is the West the seed is rarely consumed for Herbal medicine, but rather ground and added to mustard plasters or added to the bath. The seed is antibacterial, antifungal, carminative, diaphoretic, digestive, diuretic, emetic, expectorant, rubefacient, and a stimulant.

The mustard is used in many religions to represent faith…people of the Jewish faith, Taoism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Bahai, and Christianity all have stories showing this. In the Christian Bible, Matthew 13:31-32 tells the parable of the mustard seed: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and perch in its branches.”

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