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Mustard Seeds (Rai): Uses, Benefits, Side effects, and More By Dr. Rajeev Singh

By Dr Rajeev Singh +2 more

Introduction: 

There have been recipes of mustard seeds from 5000 years ago that recommend mustard seeds as an appetizer. The scientific name of brown mustard is Brassica juncea, which belongs to the family Brassicaceae or Cruciferae. Its common name includes Indian mustard, oriental mustard, and sarson. During the old times, mustard was used for snake or scorpion bites in Grece. Whereas leaves, seeds, and seed oil has been used for medicinal purpose in India and China. Let us look at some of the medicinal value of mustard seeds.  

Nutritional Value of Mustard Seeds: 

Mustard seeds may contain bioactive compounds like sterols, glucosinolates, and isothiocyanates.1 Mustard seeds may also contain the following nutritional components: 

mustard seeds benefits

Nutritional Component Value 
Energy 508 kcal 
Water 5.27 g 
Carbohydrates 28.1 g 
Fats 36.2 g 
Proteins 26.1 g 
Fibre 12.2 g 
Sugars 6.79 g 
Iron 9.21 mg 
Calcium 266 mg 
Magnesium 370 mg 
Phosphorus 828 mg 
Sodium 13 mg 
Potassium  738 mg 
Selenium  208 µg 
Copper 0.645 mg 
Zinc 6.08 mg 
Manganese 2.45 mg 
Vitamin A  2 µg 
Vitamin B1 0.805 mg 
Vitamin B2  0.261 mg 
Vitamin B3  4.73 mg 
Vitamin B5  0.81 mg 
Vitamin B6  0.397 mg 
Vitamin B9  162 µg 
Vitamin C  7.1 mg 
Vitamin E  5.07 mg 
Vitamin K 5.4 µg 
Beta carotene 18 µg 
Choline 123 mg 
Betaine 1.9 mg 

Table 1: Nutritional Value of Mustard Seeds2 

Did you know?

  • Mustard seeds contain compounds that have antimicrobial properties, helping to fight against harmful bacteria. source: ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
  • Mustard seeds are a good source of minerals like calcium, magnesium, and potassium. source: nutritionvalue.org
  • Mustard seeds have been used in traditional medicine to help relieve respiratory conditions like asthma and bronchitis. source: ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

Properties of Mustard Seeds: 

Several studies have shown that mustard seeds are beneficial to humans, and a few properties of mustard seeds are:  

  • It may reduce inflammation 
  • It may reduce pain 
  • It may reduce swelling 
  • It may act against cancer 
  • It may act against ulcers 
  • It may be used as an antiseptic 
  • It may act as an antibacterial agent 
  • It may use against digestive disorders1 

Based on certain Ayurvedic literature I read, mustard seeds are mentioned as an ingredient in certain formulations used for specific purposes. These may be inducing vomiting, cleansing the cranial cavity, and administering decoction enemas. These formulations are typically recommended for conditions such as vomiting, mental disturbances, excessive gas, paleness, jaundice, and nasal congestion. It is believed that mustard seeds possess properties that might make them beneficial for addressing these issues.

Dr. Siddharth Gupta, B.A.M.S, M.D (Ayu)

Potential Uses of Mustard Seeds (Rai) for Overall Health 

Some of the potential mustard seed uses are: 

1. Potential use of mustard seeds as an antioxidant 

A study by Das et al. in 2022 showed that mustard seeds might have antioxidant activity. The antioxidant potential of mustard seeds may be due to glucosinolates and omega-3 fatty acids. These compounds may deactivate the free radicals (harmful molecules present in the body) and protect the body from various damages.3 

2. Potential use of mustard seeds for diabetes 

A study by Bi et al. in 2015 showed that carotene and phenolic compounds in mustard seeds might be beneficial for diabetes mellitus. These compounds may release insulin from the pancreas and maintain normal glucose levels. Insulin is a hormone that helps to maintain normal blood sugar levels in the body.4 Further studies are yet to be done to check if mustard seeds may be beneficial in the case of diabetes. Check your blood sugar levels regularly and consult your doctor in case of abnormal blood sugar levels. 

3. Potential use of mustard seeds for cancer 

A study by Ahmed et al. in 2020 showed that mustard seeds might be used for lung cancer. Glucosinolates in mustard seeds may inhibit the growth of cancerous cells and cause their death. It may also protect the DNA from damage.5 However, more studies are yet to be done to see if mustard seeds may help against cancer. Cancer is a serious disease; therefore, you must consult your doctor immediately if you suspect any cancer symptoms. Do not self-medicate. 

4. Potential use of mustard seeds for bacterial and fungal infections 

A study by Khan et al. in 2016 showed that mustard seeds might possess antibacterial and antifungal activity. Mustard seeds may inhibit the development of gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria like E. coli, B. subtilis, and Rhodococcus spp. In addition, mustard seeds may inhibit the activity of fungi like Aspergillus niger, Aspergillus flavus, and Trichoderma harzianum. 6 However, further large-scale studies are required to check if mustard seeds may act against bacterial and fungal infections. You must immediately consult your doctor if you suspect a bacterial or fungal infection.  

5. Potential use of mustard seeds for psoriasis 

Psoriasis is an inflammatory autoimmune disease. A study by Yang et al. in 2013 showed that mustard seeds might fight against psoriasis. Mustard seeds may reduce inflammation caused by psoriasis.7 However, more studies are required to check whether mustard seeds may benefit psoriasis. Therefore, you must consult your doctor if you suspect any symptoms of psoriasis. 

6. Potential use of mustard seeds for neurodegenerative disorders 

A study by Avallone et al. in 2019 showed that mustard seeds might be beneficial to disorders related to the nervous system. Polyunsaturated fatty acids may be beneficial for diseases like Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.3 However, further studies are required to check if mustard seeds may be beneficial for Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. Therefore, you must immediately consult your doctor for neurodegenerative disorders. 

7. Potential use of mustard seeds for reducing inflammation 

A study by Bhat et al. in 2013 showed that mustard seeds might help to reduce inflammation. Mustard seeds may inhibit the release of inflammatory mediators (molecules responsible for inflammation.8 However, more studies are yet to be done to check the anti-inflammatory activity of mustard seeds. Therefore, you must consult your doctor if you suspect any inflammation. 

8. Potential use of mustard seeds for reducing pain 

A study by Bhat et al. in 2013 showed that mustard seeds might help to reduce pain. It may reduce pain by inhibiting the release of molecules responsible for inflammation and the COX enzyme (that causes pain). This property of mustard seeds was measured on Eddy’s hot plate model.8 However, further studies are required to check if mustard seeds can reduce pain. Therefore, you must consult your doctor if you experience pain for a prolonged period. 

Though studies show the benefits of mustard seeds in different conditions, these are insufficient, and need more studies to establish the true extent of the benefits of mustard seeds on human health. 

One intriguing traditional use of mustard seeds that I have come across is their application in certain conditions such as tumours of the thyroid gland and lymphadenitis. In these cases, a paste made from mustard seeds along with other herbs is recommended for external application. This practice suggests that mustard seeds may have some unique properties that are believed to be beneficial in addressing these specific health concerns.

Dr. Rajeev Singh, BAMS

How to Use Mustard Seeds? 

According to Ayurveda, mustard seeds can be consumed in the following ways: 

  • Whole seeds can be used in salads 
  • Mustard seeds can be used as an ingredient in pickles 
  • It may be used to make curry 
  • Mustard seeds can be used to make vegetable dishes1 

You must consult your doctor before taking mustard seeds in large quantities or any herbal supplements. Likewise, consult a qualified doctor before discontinuing or replacing an ongoing modern medical treatment with an ayurvedic/herbal preparation. 

From my knowledge and observations, I have noticed that mustard seeds may have a positive effect on relieving symptoms of rheumatic arthritis. Mustard seeds contain certain compounds that possess anti-inflammatory properties, that might help reduce inflammation in the joints and alleviate the associated pain. While this is an interesting finding, it is important to note that further research is needed to fully understand and validate the potential benefits of mustard seeds for rheumatic arthritis.

Dr. Smita barode, B.A.M.S, M.S.

Side Effects of Mustard Seeds (Rai)

Side effects of mustard seeds, according to Monsalve et al. in 2001, are reported as follows: 

  • It may cause urticaria (swollen, reddened, and itchy skin) 
  • It may cause eczema on the hands (skin becomes dry and itchy) 
  • It may cause asthma 
  • It may cause a runny nose 
  • It may cause angioedema (swelling of the lower layer of skin) 
  • It may cause oral pruritis (itchy mouth) 
  • It may cause wheezing with shortness of breathe9 

If you notice any reaction from mustard seeds, seek immediate medical attention. First, consult your ayurvedic doctor who has prescribed it; doctors can find the cause and treat it effectively. 

Also Read: Pickle Juice For Cramps: A Research-Based Analysis on Effectiveness

Precautions to Take with Mustard Seeds 

The following precautions shall be taken before consuming mustard seeds: 

  • You must avoid the internal application of mustard seeds if you have ulcers. 
  • You must be cautious if you have thyroid disorder before consuming mustard seeds.1 

It is advised to consult your doctor before consuming mustard seeds if you have any pre-existing diseases. 

Interactions with Other Drugs: 

Mustard seeds may interact with the following drugs: 

  • Mustard seeds may interfere with antacids (used for acidity) 
  • It may also interact with warfarin (a drug used to avoid blood clots)10 

You must consult your doctor before consuming mustard seeds if you are undergoing medical treatment. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): 

1) What are the health benefits of mustard seeds (Rai)? 

There are several medicinal uses for mustard seeds. It may be used against diabetes, cancer, psoriasis, fungi, and bacteria and act as an antioxidant. It may be used for neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. Additionally, it may reduce pain and inflammation.1,3,4,5,6,7,8 However, you must consult your doctor; if you experience any above symptoms, consult your doctor and do not self-medicate.  

2) What are the nutrients in mustard seeds? 

Mustard seeds may contain carbohydrates, proteins, sugars, and fats. It may contain minerals like iron, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, sodium, potassium, selenium, copper, zinc, and manganese. Mustard seeds may contain vitamins like Vitamin A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9, C, E and K.1,2 

3) What are mustard seeds side effects? 

Mustard seeds may cause urticaria (swollen, reddened, and itchy skin), eczema on the hands (skin becomes dry and itchy), asthma, rhinitis (runny nose), angioedema (swelling of the lower layer of skin), oral pruritis (itchy mouth), and wheezing with shortness of breath.9 First, meet your ayurvedic doctor who has prescribed it to you; they will be able to identify the cause and treat it effectively. 

4) Which drugs interact with mustard seeds? 

Mustard seeds may interfere with antacids (used for acidity). It may also interact with warfarin (a drug used to avoid blood clots).10 You must consult your doctor before consuming mustard seeds if you are undergoing medical treatment. 

5) Are mustard seeds used for diabetes? 

Carotene and phenolic compounds in mustard seeds might be beneficial for diabetes mellitus.4 However, consult your doctor in case of abnormal blood sugar levels. 

References: 

  1. Szollosi R. Indian mustard (Brassica juncea L.) seeds in health. nuts and seeds in health and disease prevention 2011 Jan 1 (pp. 671-676). Academic Press. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780123756886100787 
  1. Spices, mustard seed, ground [Internet]. foodData Central. [cited 2022Dec2]. Available from: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170929/nutrients 
  1. Das G, Tantengco OA, Tundis R, Robles JA, Loizzo MR, Shin HS, Patra JK. Glucosinolates and Omega-3 Fatty Acids from Mustard Seeds: Phytochemistry and Pharmacology. Plants. 2022 Sep 1;11(17):2290. Available from: https://www.mdpi.com/2223-7747/11/17/2290/pdf  
  1. Bi X, Lim J, Henry CJ. Spices in the management of diabetes mellitus. Food chemistry. 2017 Feb 15;217:281-93. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308814616313516 
  1. Ahmed AG, Hussein UK, Ahmed AE, Kim KM, Mahmoud HM, Hammouda O, Jang KY, Bishayee A. Mustard seed (Brassica nigra) extract exhibits antiproliferative effect against human lung cancer cells through differential regulation of apoptosis, cell cycle, migration, and invasion. Molecules. 2020 Apr 29;25(9):2069. Available from: https://www.mdpi.com/703620 
  1. Khan SA, Shahid S, Jameel M, Ahmad A. In vitro antibacterial, antifungal, and GC-MS analysis of seeds of Mustard Brown. Int j pharm Chem. 2016;6(4):107-5. Available from: https://www.academia.edu/download/45435953/Sinapic_acid_derivatives_in_defatted_Ori20160507-11750-uc52rs.pdf 
  1. Yang R, Zhou Q, Wen C, Hu J, Li H, Zhao M, Zhao H. Mustard seed (S inapis A lba L inn) attenuates imiquimod‐induced psoriasiform inflammation of BALB/c mice. The Journal of dermatology. 2013 Jul;40(7):543-52. Available from: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/1346-8138.12119 
  1. Bhat SP, Rizvi W, Kumar A. INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF DRUG FORMULATION AND RESEARCH ANALGESIC AND ANTI-INFLAMMATORY ACTIVITY OF BRASSICA NIGRA L. SEED EXTRACTS. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Waseem-Rizvi/publication/349492482_INTERNATIONAL_JOURNAL_OF_DRUG_FORMULATION_AND_RESEARCH_ANALGESIC_AND_ANTI-INFLAMMATORY_ACTIVITY_OF_BRASSICA_NIGRA_L_SEED_EXTRACTS/links/60332e69299bf1cc26e080b4/INTERNATIONAL-JOURNAL-OF-DRUG-FORMULATION-AND-RESEARCH-ANALGESIC-AND-ANTI-INFLAMMATORY-ACTIVITY-OF-BRASSICA-NIGRA-L-SEED-EXTRACTS.pdf 
  1. Monsalve RI, Villalba M, Rodríguez R. Allergy to mustard seeds: the importance of 2S albumins as food allergens. In Internet Symposium on Food Allergens 2001 (Vol. 3, No. 2, pp. 57-69). Available from: http://www.food-allergens.de/password/PDF-downloads/complete-articles/3-2-monsalve-et-al.pdf 
  1. Commonly used Ethiopian herbs and potential drug interactions – ETHNOMED [Internet]. [cited 2022Dec2]. Available from: https://ethnomed.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/Commonly-Used-Ethiopian-Herbs-and-Potential-Drug-Interactions_a11y.pdf 

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