Behind the Mystery and Truth of Mustard Oil
Sometimes, the most surprising ingredients actually provide the most significant health benefits. You may think that you know everything there is to know about some natural substances, but then you discover something else and everything changes.
Because of the sheer number of natural substances in the world that have been studied and have yet to be studied, we will always be learning new things about what our planet has to offer us, especially when it comes to medicinal benefits. It’s often the ingredients you least expect that have the most power behind them.
What Is Mustard Oil?
Mustard oil is a natural oil that is extracted from the seeds of the mustard plant, scientifically or botanically named Brassica juncea. The oil may also be known by many other names, depending on what language you speak or where you’re from: Sarson ka tel in Hindi, Sarso tel in Bengali, Kadugu Ennai in Tamil, Ava Nune in Telugu, Rainu tel in Gujarati, Moharich tel in Marathi, Kadukenna in Malayalam, and Sorisha tela in Oriya.
The oil can either be extracted by pressing the seeds of the mustard plant or grinding them, mixing them with water, and extracting through distillation.
Although it may not seem like it today, mustard oil has actually been very popularly used throughout history. It was most frequently seen being used for thousands of years in places like Greece, India, and Rome. With that said, scientists have traced its origins back to India in 3000 B.C.
Throughout its history, mustard oil was primarily used for medicinal purposes. For example, Hippocrates used it in the preparation of several different medicines, and Pythagoras used it to treat scorpion stings. Past medicinal uses, North Indian women often used mustard oil in cooking as well.
Nutritional Composition of Mustard Oil
Mustard oil contains many different healthy nutrients that could potentially outweigh the risks, depending on your body and health circumstances. The oil contains the ideal ratio of Omega 3s to Omega 6s, as well as a very low amount of saturated fats.
The percentages of the fat concentrations found in mustard oil are as follows: 0% monounsaturated fats, 21% polyunsaturated fats, and 12% saturated fats. Otherwise, the oil actually does not contain any vitamins, minerals, proteins, fiber, or carbohydrates.
Health Benefits of Using Mustard Oil
Despite some of its risks, mustard seed oil really does provide a lot of significant health benefits. With that said, remember to only use the essential oil version in culinary applications. You might also consult a holistic healthcare practitioner to determine the most reasonable dosage or frequency of use so that you don’t overuse the oil.
One of the biggest health benefits provided by mustard oil comes from its limited nutritional composition of fatty acids. This oil contains the ideal ratio of polyunsaturated fats to saturated fats, or Omega 3s to Omega 6s, which is three to one. Monounsaturated fatty acids and polyunsaturated fatty acids are very healthy nutrients that can promote better heart health, prevent premature signs of aging, boost hair growth, and lighten the skin.
On that note, mustard oil has been studied and proven to be very beneficial in promoting a healthy heart. The healthy, essential fatty acids contained in the oil help lower bad cholesterol levels and aid in stimulating blood flow and circulation.
According to research, the alpha-linolenic acid found in mustard oil has also contributed to providing a lower risk of Ischemic heart disease than may be offered by other natural oils such as sunflower oil. (1)
Mustard oil is often used for its powerful antibacterial properties in either internal or external applications. When used externally, the oil also provides powerful anti-fungal properties.
Consumption of the essential oil could help fight bacterial infections found inside parts of the digestive system, like the colon or intestines.
Some studies have even shown that it could help kill bacteria found in the mouth and may, therefore, be useful as a treatment during root canal procedures. Research published back in 2004 found that mustard oil combined with honey was an effective treatment for dental bacteria and could be used when performing root canal treatment. (2)
Studies have also found found that mustard oil could help fight vaginal yeast infection because of the presence of allyl isothocyanate.
Mustard oil is commonly used in topical applications, especially in massage therapy due to its warming and pain-relieving properties. Some sources note high levels of vitamin E found in the oil; although, many others have said that there are no vitamins present at all.
Vitamin E can contribute significantly to healthy, soft skin, and it would also help reduce premature signs of aging like wrinkles or fine lines. The oil may also be used to help heal cracked heels or brittle or breaking nails.
However, care needs to be taken when applying mustard oil to the skin. A study published in 2007 reported that the oil could be toxic to a person’s skin. Despite the fact that it is often used on newborn babies in India, you should be careful and stop using the oil, if you see any sort of adverse reaction. (3)
The nutrients found in mustard oil including omega fatty acids can help nourish your hair, help it grow and become stronger and healthier and more attractive.
To use the oil on your hair, massage a little mustard oil mixed with coconut oil into your hair and scalp. Wrap a warm towel over your hair and leave it in place for 20 minutes letting the oils penetrate your hair follicles and your skin. Because mustard oil boosts circulation to the skin and scalp, it might also help stimulate hair to grow.
Gum Disease and Oral Health
Gum disease is a major issue around the world especially in developing countries where some 80% of adults suffer from the disease. Peridontal disease is a chronic inflammatory condition that can result in severe pain and the loss of teeth in adults. Oral inflammation does not only impact the mouth but can also have an adverse effect on a person’s immune system.
Clinical trials have been done to examine the effect of rubbing a combination of salt and mustard oil onto the gums. One study published in 2015 first treated the roots and scales with ultrasonic treatment and then massaged the mustard oil and salt mixture into the gums twice each day. The patients who underwent the treatment for three months experienced significant improvements. (4)
The treatment is common in India but not in the rest of the world but the results of the study show that mustard oil has the potential to treat gum disease safely and naturally.
Pain and Inflammation
Applying mustard oil topically may also provide relief to patients suffering with pain caused by injury or muscle ache and also those who suffer the painful symptoms of rheumatism and arthritis.
It appears to work because the selenium contained by the oil reduces inflammation caused by these conditions. Massaging the affected area of your body with warm mustard oil may bring some welcome relief.
Make sure that you perform a patch test on a discrete area of skin to ensure that you are not allergic to the oil before applying a larger dose.
When massaged into your body, the warming properties of mustard oil may also help stimulate the circulation of blood around the body and to the skin. Mustard oil is often combined with certain essential oils in India to help promote the flow of blood around the body. As well as its physical benefits, massaging the oils into your body can act as an effective, natural stress buster.
Massaging mustard oil into the muscles can soothe aches and pains and boost the flow of blood to the parts of the body that need it most. By improving blood flow, it also ensures more oxygen reaches the vital organs and the extremities.
Is Mustard Oil Safe to Use?
There are actually two different types of mustard oil, and it’s essential that you separate the two and are able to tell them apart. With that said, it should be easy to tell them apart, because one of them will be clearly labeled as “for external use only” if you live in Canada, the European Union, or the United States of America.
Out of the two types of mustard seed oil, one has been determined to be toxic, and therefore banned for cooking uses by many government agencies around the world.
“Real” mustard seed oil is the one that has been deemed as toxic due to its high concentration of erucic acid. Because of this high concentration (almost 50%), many government agencies have banned regular mustard oil from being consumed. Instead, they allow the use of mustard essential oil to be used in culinary applications. The essential oil version is extracted from the mustard seeds through the method of steam distillation.
With that said, there may be some words of caution to be said for the essential oil version of mustard oil as well. Mustard seeds contain an enzyme, myrosinase, and a glucosinolate, sinigrin, that react to each other when subjected to heat or pressure.
The myrosinase and sinigrin, when exposed to water, react together to create allyl isothiocyanate or regular isothiocyanate, depending on which mustard seed was used (black or white). These new compounds have been considered to be toxic when ingested or applied topically.
Of course, if the FDA and other governmental agencies have approved the use of mustard essential oil in cooking for ingestion or topical applications, then there is little to be afraid of.
You should, however, make sure to only use the oil in moderation, especially if you are considering using it in cooking recipes. For example, over-consumption could increase your risk of lung cancer, cause vaginal bleeding or miscarriage, or damage the heart.
If you do plan on using regular mustard seed oil or mustard essential oil in any type of application method, whether topically or through ingestion after cooking, you should always speak with your doctor first.
Your doctor will be able to tell you if the oil may harm your body more than it may help, as well as whether or not it may interfere with any medications you may already be taking. A holistic healthcare practitioner may also be able to help you figure out the proper dosage amounts, as well as application methods, to use when adding either type of mustard oil to your skin or healthcare routines.
A comedogenic rating is a score that is given to any natural substance that is expected to be applied topically to somebody’s skin. These ratings are given to help those people determine before using the substance whether or not it is likely to cause problems with their skin, such as irritations, clogged pores, or the worsening of skin conditions such as acne.
Low-rated substances are ones that are the least likely to cause these types of reactions. With that said, some people may still experience reactions that are contrary to what a substance’s comedogenic rating implies, which is why these should only be taken as words of advice.
Mustard oil has been given a comedogenic rating of a two or three, which puts it approximately in the middle of the scale. This means that it is unlikely to cause bad reactions, clogged pores, of worsened acne breakouts, but some people may still experience these side effects.
With that said, it has been noted that you may not want to use the oil on your face, perhaps due to its warming effects. If you do want to try to use it on your face, it is advised that you dilute it with a carrier oil first.
Because everybody’s skin is different, the most important thing is that you do a small patch test on your skin before adding any oil or other natural substance to your daily skincare routine. If you don’t see any bad reactions within one to two hours, you are likely safe to add it to your daily routine.
However, you should probably wait up to 48 hours total, just to make sure that you don’t experience any delayed side effects from using the oil in the patch test. If you don’t experience any negative reactions, you should be safe to use the oil, but it is still recommended to use a carrier oil to dilute it just to be safe.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why mustard oil is banned in the US?
Mustard oil has been banned for consumption not only in the US but also in other parts of the world including Canada the European Union and even India where it is most popular. It was banned mainly because of the presence of erucic acid and the FDA now requires that all mustard oil products are labelled ‘For External Use Only.’
What is the use of mustard oil?
Despite being banned for internal use, mustard oil has a number of potential benefits. It can improve heart health and protect against disease, it also has antimicrobial benefits that can treat a variety of pathogens. When used topically, it can benefit both the skin and the hair while massaging it into your body can improve circulation and ease the pain of arthritis and injury.
Can we apply mustard oil on face?
You can apply a little warm mustard oil to your skin to nourish the skin and protect against pollutants and harsh weather conditions. In India, the oil is often combined with a skin friendly essential oil for even greater benefit. However, mustard oil may cause a reaction in some people so you should always perform a patch test before applying a larger dose of the oil.
Because of the presence of erucic acid, mustard oil can only be sold and used for external use. Nevertheless, it can be applied topically to deal with a broad range of health issues.
Mustard oil is known to improve circulation and heart health. It may also help destroy bacteria and fungus and help nourish your skin and your hair.