Learning At The Potter's Wheel is a collection of articles on home, family, marriage, parenting, natural medicine and herbs. . . along with a few other items of interest. Have fun sorting through my junk drawer of assorted thoughts and ramblings.


The Potter has persisted in giving me treasures I don't always understand or appreciate. Patiently, He is teaching me to trust that all I really need to know is that I am in HIS hands. . .


There are three different varieties of plants that yield mustard seed:
black mustard (Brassica nigra),
brown Indian mustard (Brassica juncea),
and white or yellow mustard (Brassica hirta/Sinapis alba).

Seeds, Leaves

Allyl isothiocyanate, caffeic acid, chlorogenic acid, ferulic acid, p-coumaric acid, protocatechuic acid, sinapic acid, vanillic acid.

The seeds contain sinalbin, which is a thioglycoside responsible for their pungent taste. White mustard has fewer volatile oils and the flavor is considered to be more mild than that produced by black mustard seeds.

As a vegetable, the greens of the mustard plant are often prepared with fatty or spiced bits of meat for flavoring. The leaf is a rich source of Vitamin A and Vitamin K.


History & Appearance
Mustard seeds have long been a part of recorded history. Black mustard seeds used to be more common. Historians suppose that Black mustard was the variety mentioned by Jesus in Matthew 13. However, since the 1950’s black mustard seeds have become less popular as brown mustard seed harvest has become mechanized. This may be due to the fact that black mustard seeds are smaller than brown.

The small round mustard seeds are approximately 1 mm and vary in color from yellowish white to black. While flavorful, they have little aroma.

While mustard plants are harvested at the leaf stage, mustard seeds mature into trees, not shrubs.

Medicinal Use:
Mustard Seeds help improve digestion and aid in the metabolism of fat. The ground seeds mixed with honey are used as a cough suppressant.

Since the time of ancient Rome, mustard seed has been found helpful in the treatment of chest congestion, inflammation, injuries, and joint pain. The vapor from a mustard plaster is considered helpful in breaking up congestion while the plaster itself helps increase circulation (and thereby oxygen) to the area. The remedy must be carefully administered and monitored to avoid burning the skin. A basic recipe follows:

2 cups flour
§ 4 tablespoons dry mustard
§ tight-fitting t-shirt
§ Rectangle of flannel cloth (width a little less than equal to the front of the T-shirt, length 2x the width) approximately 6” x 12”. Cotton can also be used.

Mix the dry ingredients thoroughly and then add just enough water to make it into a thin paste, the consistency of school glue.

Spread the plaster onto one half of the flannel (6” x 6” square), fold the flannel over the plaster and warm gently in a 170° oven for about 5 minutes or so just to take off the chill. If you leave it too long, the flour will bake and become stiff. You’ll have to start over.

Place the warmed flannel onto the chest taking care that none of the mustard touches the bare skin. Hold in place with the t-shirt. Check the skin after 10 minutes. Ten to twenty minutes is the optimum treatment. Do not let the plaster remain longer than thirty minutes.

Repeat in 4 hours. Continue treatments until condition improves.

Cautions about mustard plasters:
§ Do not apply the plaster directly to the skin.
§ If you see the skin reddened, remove immediately. Skin can become irritated, burn and blister if the plaster is left too long. Do not treat for longer than 30 minutes.
§ If the person experiences discomfort at any point, remove the plaster.
§ Do not use on young children (6 years or younger) or the elderly/frail.

As a Condiment
Mustard seeds are ground into powder and then mixed with some flour and a little water to form a thick paste that is used as a condiment. Some methods recommend soaking the seeds in liquid before grinding. Often, additional ingredients like sugar, honey, vinegar, wine or milk are added for varying flavors. Initially, this sauce is mild, but over time it will develop in intensity. Strong mustard can be very powerful and painful to the nasal membranes if eaten carelessly.

Used whole, the seeds can be fried in oil until they pop, imparting their flavor into the oil.

Mustard Greens
Some gardeners use mustard plants as ‘green manure.’ This means that the plants grow densely enough to suppress weeds between crops and can be turned back into the soil to re-deposit their nutrients.

The mustard plant is also utilized by those trying to reclaim soil at hazardous waste sites. The plant will store heavy metals in its cells, removing them from the soil. The plants grown in the contaminated soil are then harvested and disposed of, saving money and preventing soil erosion which could contaminate other areas.

While I have no documentation on whether/if the mustard plant leaf can offer chelating benefits to humans that consume them, it certainly wouldn’t be a detriment to those who are undergoing chelation therapy. It might possibly support the process.

It is of interest to me that Asian cuisine often utilizes mustard leaves for various rolls. If the mustard plant offers any of its chelating helps by ingestion, this could be a protection to people groups that sometimes must consume contaminated fish and meat products. :-\

At any rate, the fact that mustard plants do take up excess metals from the soil, means that anything other than organically grown plants could be dangerous to consume. Choose your produce wisely.

Can be irritating when applied directly to the skin. Not recommended for use on children under the age of six or those with fragile health.

As with all herbs, avoid use of plants that have been exposed to toxic chemicals or have not been certified 'chemical free.'

Disclaimer: None of this is to be considered a substitute for medical examination and/or treatment. Use what you will, but do so knowing that you must consider your own circumstance and the application of these things with sound judgment.

In Scripture:
Jesus spoke of the tiny mustard seed several times in His teaching:

§Matthew 13:31
Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field:

§Matthew 17:20
And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.

§Mark 4:31
It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when it is sown in the earth, is less than all the seeds that be in the earth:

§Luke 13:19
It is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and cast into his garden; and it grew, and waxed a great tree; and the fowls of the air lodged in the branches of it.

§Luke 17:6
And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you.