The health benefits of Mustard Essential Oil can be attributed to its properties as a stimulant, irritant, appetizer, antibacterial, antifungal, insect repellant, hair vitalizer, cordial, diaphoretic, antirheumatic and tonic substance.
Mustard oil has had contradictory reputations in different parts of the world over the years. It is a very popular oil on the Indian Subcontinent, specifically in the Eastern parts of India and in Bangladesh. There, it is used as an edible oil and is considered very healthy, whereas, in the rest of the world, it is often considered toxic, irritable and not suitable for edible purposes. In some parts of Europe, there is even a ban on selling this oil and in some other countries; it is sold as a massage oil reserved for external application only.
Mustard essential oil is totally different from Mustard Oil, not in the sense that it is extracted from anything else, but in terms of the process of extraction, chemical composition, and medicinal properties. Both of these oils are extracted from the seeds of mustard, which bears the 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 that is where the major 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 the presence of water, these two components react to form Allyl Isothiocyanate (in a case of black mustard) and normal Isothiocyanate (in a case of white mustard), which is a toxic compound.
Allyl Isothiocyanate, which is present in the mustard essential oil by more than 90% of the volume, accompanied by certain fatty acids like Oleic Acid, Linoleic Acid, and Erucic Acid, has been proven to have certain health benefits, which are discussed in greater detail below.
Health Benefits of Mustard Essential Oil
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 the purpose of massage, stimulates circulation very well. The effects are very obvious by the red color of the skin. It also stimulates digestion by stimulating the secretion of gastric juices and bile from the spleen and liver. The excretory system is also stimulated by this oil since the peristaltic motion of the intestines is activated, benefiting digestion.
Irritant: Although being an irritant is not often seen as a good thing, it can be beneficial in some unique cases. Irritation is nothing but a way that an organ reacts to an external agent or stimulus. It also shows that the organ is responding to external stimuli. This is where the potential benefit is. This property can be used to bring sensation back to those organs which are suffering from numbness or lack of sensation. This property is also used to pump up muscles and stimulate muscle growth or excitation.
Appetizer: This essential oil acts as an appetizer and boosts huger. This can also be a side effect of the irritant and stimulant qualities of mustard essential oil. It irritates the inner lining of the stomach and intestines, stimulates digestive juices, and creates a feeling of hunger.
Antibacterial: This essential oil has bactericidal or antibacterial properties. Internally, it fights bacterial infections in the colon, digestive system, excretory system, and urinary tract. When applied externally, it can treat bacterial infections on the skin.
Antifungal: This oil serves as an antifungal agent, due to the presence of Allyl Isothiocyanate. It does not allow fungal growth and also inhibits the spread of infection if it has already formed.
Insect Repellant: Insects and even some smaller animals avoid this oil and keep away from it. That is why mustard essential oil acts as such a useful insect repellant as well. It can be used in fumigants and vaporizers to drive away insects.
Hair Revitalizer: The stimulating effect and the presence of certain fatty acids such as oleic acid and linoleic acid, when combined together, make mustard essential oil an efficient hair revitalizer. Its stimulating effects increase blood circulation in the scalp while the fatty acids nourish the hair roots. It has been repeatedly shown that prolonged use of this oil on the hair may give it a brown tint, but it strengthens it and effectively prevents hair loss.
Cordial: The feeling of warmth that this oil provides makes it a cordial. It warms up the internal system like the respiratory system and protects it from the formation and accumulation of phlegm. It also warms up the body in winter to some extent. This also may be partially due to it’s stimulating and mildly irritating effects.
Diaphoretic: It promotes sweating both when consumed and when applied externally. It stimulates sweat glands to produce more sweat as well as enlarges the openings of the pores on the skin. This property is helpful in lowering body temperature as well as for removing toxins, excess salts, and water from the body.
Tonic: This oil serves as an all-around tonic for your body’s health. It tones up all the systems operating in the body, gives strength and boosts immune function.
Anti-Rheumatic & Anti-Arthritic: Mustard essential oil provides relief for symptoms of rheumatism and arthritis and has been used for this purpose since ancient times.
Other Benefits: It is beneficial in treating cold & cough, headache, congestion resulting from colds, aches, body pain and is helpful for muscle growth. It can also be rubbed on gums to strengthen them. It also protects teeth from germs. This oil contains a good percentage of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, antioxidants, and vitamin-E, which all have their own extensive health benefits.
A Few Words of Caution: Despite various adverse reports regarding its toxicity and warnings against use by pregnant women, no such effects have been observed in India and Bangladesh, where both mustard and its oils have been in use for centuries. At the same time, it is also true that this oil has irritating effects on the mucus membranes, but it has no other inherent threats. It may be difficult for people who are not used to this oil, and it takes a few exposures to become used to the sensation.
Blending: No information regarding its blending is known specifically, but it is extremely rare to see this as an aromatherapy option due to its mildly irritating nature.