Mustard oil can offer numerous health benefits for infants and kids. Some of which are that it is very good for baby massage, it can keep the body warm during winters and open up sweat pores on skin, it can help reduce cold and cough, it is god for controlling asthma, it is good for scalp massage and stimulate hair growth, has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. It can also act as an insect repellent.
Most of us know mustard seeds as spice used in various cuisines. The seeds of mustard are used in preparing mustard paste, which is more popular in the Western world as an ingredient in sandwiches, hot dogs and hamburgers. Mustard plant can be found in many regions of the world including North Africa, Middle East, Mediterranean region and in South East Asian countries as well. It is now grown commercially in countries such as India, Nepal, Burma, Russia, China, Canada, UK, US, France, Denmark, Argentina, Chile, etc.
There are mainly three varieties of mustard seeds available. These include yellow, brown and black. Mostly, yellow mustard seeds can have a mild flavor. Generally, this is used in making mustard condiment used in hot dogs and sandwiches. Of course, turmeric is also added to mustard for that yellow color.
Source: Styles At Life
Brown and black mustard on the other hand can have a strong flavor attached to them. These are consumed in regions ranging from Africa, China and India. In India, the seeds are used as part of spice on a daily basis. Apart from this, brown mustard powder can be found in most pickles made in India. In China, even the leaves of the plant are consumed.
Mustard seeds can be found not only in the cuisine, but there is a good amount of history attached to it as well. Historically and philosophically, mustard has been referred to many times in ancient scriptures. For example, it is mentioned in the Bible that Jesus used a mustard seed to describe the kingdom of God which can have a small beginning but can grow in to a very big garden. Similarly, even in Buddhism mustard seed has been described by Buddha. He says that if a person can pick a single mustard seed from a seven-mile cube, once every hundred years, then by the time the last seed is picked, it would be 936 quintillion years.
Health benefits of mustard oil for babies
Listed below are some of the health benefits of mustard oil.
Mustard oil topical application
- Great for massages: Massages are a must for infants to strengthen their bones and stimulate blood circulation. Various oils are preferred for baby massage. Some of which may include sunflower oil, olive oil and other oils. But, in countries like India, traditionally mustard oil has been a preferred choice over other oils.
- Keeps the body warm: In colder regions, mustard oil can be a great advantage. Massage with mustard oil can act as a great insulator and helps in keeping the body warm. During winters, massage with mustard oil is preferred because it can stick on to the skin and it is soaked slowly.
- Reduces cough and cold: Massage with mustard oil can help in reducing cough and cold during winters. Put one or two cloves of garlic in mustard oil and heat the oil. Once the oil is lukewarm, massage your baby with the oil. The strong smell of mustard oil along with garlic can reduce nasal congestions, there by curing cold and cough.
- Is good for controlling asthma: As mentioned, the strong flavor of mustard oil can help in providing relief from asthma as well. Add a bit of camphor in a spoon of mustard oil and heat them. When the oil is lukewarm, massage the chest with the oil for about 5-7 minutes for relief.
- Good for head massage: Massage with mustard oil can help in stimulating hair growth. The presence of fatty acids such as oleic acid and linoleic acid stimulate blood circulation in the scalp region and increase the growth of hair.
- Has antibacterial properties: Apart from its use in baby massages, mustard oil also has antibacterial properties. One study has shown that mustard oil can kill E coli and S typhi. Both of these bacterial species are known to cause various diseases in humans and mustard oil can control them.
- Has antifungal properties: Mustard oil is also effective against fungal species that spoil bread. In one study, mustard oil acted against fungal species and controlled it to a great extent. The study shows that mustard oil can have a great application as an antifungal.
- Can act as an insect repellent: The strong and pungent smell of mustard oil can have an effect against insects as well. It has been documented in a study that mustard oil was very effective in controlling mosquitoes. The study also recommended that natural ingredients like mustard oil can make for good insect repellents because they are natural, can reduce the dependency on synthetic insecticides and are also economical and reduce environmental effects.
- Can open up sweat pores: Massage with mustard oil can help in opening up sweat pores. This property is useful even during summers. The opening up of sweat pores causes the sweat to come out of the body, thereby reducing the amount of waste products and toxins in the body.
- Can be used for treating skin infections: If your baby is facing skin infections which are bacterial or fungal in nature, you can apply mustard oil because of its antibacterial and antifungal properties. You can reduce skin infections drastically with mustard oil application.
Mustard oil in cooking
Apart from using mustard oil for topical application or massage, it can also be used in cooking and we’ll discuss some of the benefits now.
- It is a good source of Omega 3 fatty acids: As discussed in our earlier articles, infants and toddlers need good amount of Omega 3 fatty acids for their brains to develop. Mustard oil is a good source of Omega 3 fatty acids.
Mustard oil side effects and issues
- Can cause irritations: Mustard oil contains a biochemical known as allyl isothiocyanate. This biocompound is known to cause irritation and inflammations in lungs and gastrointestinal tract. The problem can occur when mustard oil is consumed in high quantities.
- Can damage the skin: Due to its irritable nature, mustard oil can cause certain skin problems as well. With long term exposure, mustard oil can increase water loss through skin because of the opening of sweat pores. This can result in skin blisters.
- Can cause allergic reactions: Mustard oil can also cause allergic reactions in some people. The reason being the immune system response to mustard. General symptoms include redness, itchiness, hives, dry and cracked skin, difficulty in breathing, etc. Mustard oil can cause allergic symptoms not only when consumed but also during skin application on people who are allergic. Whenever you notice such rashes or hives, consult your pediatrician immediately. Also, look for whether or not your family has a history of food-related allergies.
- To be avoided during pregnancy and breast-feeding: According to WebMD, black mustard should be avoided during pregnancy and breast-feeding. It is believed that it can start menstrual periods and cause miscarriage. On the other hand, there seems to be no sufficient evidence in support of this. Mustard seeds have been used in the Indian subcontinent for many centuries now with no such interactions being reported or observed.
- Has euric acid: Mustard oil has been known to contain euric acid. Euric acid is a typical fatty acid which is unlike other fatty acids. It falls under Omega 9 fatty acids category and it is known to be toxic in nature. Several studies have found that the highest amount of euric acid in mustard oil was about 40 to 47%. It is known to cause several ailments such as cardiovascular disease, respiratory issues, diarrhea, anemia, cancer, etc. On the other hand, the amount of euric acid in mustard oil can vary between 20 to 40%. So, there’s no standard pointer saying that it mustard oil has this much amount of euric acid in it. It comes down to the variety or cultivar of mustard being used and also on the process of oil making.
Read more: Common Allergies among Children and Tips to Avoid
Here the key to these side effects or interactions is the amount of mustard oil being consumed. If mustard oil is consumed in small quantities, then it can pose no problem. But, when consumed in very high quantities, it could pose some problems.