Description of Mustard Seeds
The mustard is a well-known oil seed. It is a small annual plant which grows up to a height of one meter with some branches. It has round stem with long intermodes, simple, alternate and very soft yellowish green leaves. The fruit is a pod of about 2.5 cm’s. long containing seeds.
Dry mustard seeds are small, measuring about I mm. in diameter. They are round and darkish-brown or greyish-brown in color. They have no smell, but when pounded and moisture with water. they emit a peculiar pungent odour. The taste of the mustard seeds is bitter and pungent.
Origin of Mustard Seeds
Mustard seeds can be traced to different areas of Europe and Asia with the white variety originating in the eastern Mediterranean regions, the brown from the foothills of the Himalayan Mountains, and the black from the Middle East. Mustard seeds are mentioned in ancient Sanskrit writings dating back about 5,000 years ago. They are also mentioned in the New Testament in which the kingdom of Heaven is compared to a grain of mustard seed.
While mustard seeds were used for their culinary properties in ancient Greece, it seems that it was the ancient Romans who invented a paste from the ground seeds, which was probably the ancestor of our modern day mustard condiment. The physicians of both civilizations, including the father of medicine Hippocrates, used mustard seed medicinally.
Mustard seed is one of the most popular spices traded in the world today. As it grows well in temperate climates, the areas that produce the greatest amount of mustard seeds currently include Hungary, Great Britain, India, Canada and the United States.
It has been used by Romans, Greeks and Indians since ancient times. The plant is cultivated as a field crop in most temperate countries.
In Chinese herbal medicine, mustard greens are used to treat bladder inflammations and to stop hemorrhage. Eating mustard greens is thought to offer great benefit to individuals suffering from conditions ranging from asthma to heart disease to menopausal symptoms.
Food Value of Mustard Seeds
The mustard seeds are used as condiment throughout India. The seeds yield 28 per cent of a fixed oil which is used in medicine and soap-making. The seeds also contain about one per cent of a volatile oil which is used as a counter-irritant when greatly diluted. The oil extracted from the seeds, is used in North India as a hair oil, for frying and other cooking purposes. It is also used in pickles and salads. In Punjab, Delhi and Western Uttar Pradesh, the leaves are used as a vegetable.
Natural Benefits and Curative Properties of Mustard Seeds
Mustard seeds as well as its oil is used in many prescription for the treatment of various ailments. White mustard seeds can be used beneficially as a beauty aid. A handful of these seeds are roasted in a litre of sesame or coconut oil. The oil is then strained and cooled. It is applied with little water over face before going to bed. It will cure pimples and whiten the complexion. Mustard oil boiled with henna leaves is useful in healthy growth of hair. About 25 grams of mustard oil should be boiled in a tinned basin. A little quantity of henna leaves should be gradually put in this oil till about 60 grams of these leaves are thus burnt in the oil. The oil should then be filtered through a cloth and stored well in a bottle. Regular massage of the head with this oil will produce abundant hair.
Poisoning :- Mustard seeds have emetic propenies which cause vomiting. A teaspoonful of seeds, mixed in a glassful of water, generally produces free vomiting in five to 10 minutes. This is especially useful in drunkenness, narcotic and other poisonings.
Muscular Pains :- Mustard is a rubefacient which causes reddening and warming of the skin. Its plaster or paste made with water, is applied as analgesic. in rheumatism, sciatica, paralysis of limbs and other muscular pains. The plaster should, however, never be directly applied to the skin as it may cause painful blistering. A layer of lint material should be put between the mustard paste and the skin.
Convulsion in Children :- A teaspoonful of powdered mustard seeds mixed in a gallon of warm water is used as therapeutic bath in convulsion of children caused by high fever.
Ringworm :- Mustard paste as an external application is highly beneficial in the treatment of ringworm. This paste should be applied after washing the skin with sufficiently hot water.
Mustards can be started indoors or planted directly into the soil in early spring. If you are starting mustards indoors, adequate light is essential. Hang lights 3 inches (7.5 cm) above the seedlings and leave lights on for 16 hours a day. They prefer a rich, moist, well-prepared soil with adequate drainage. Plant seeds at a depth of ¼ inch (6 mm) and follow directions on the seed packet. They grow best in full sun and need to be kept moist during the growing season. Space mustards 6 inches (15 cm) apart. Harvest your mustard plants for greens when the leaves are young and tender, for cooked greens when the leaves are mature, and for seed when the seedpods take on a brownish tinge.