Seeds widely eaten as spice, or sprouted; also an oil source; leaves eaten raw or cooked; young flower clusters cooked like broccoli (FAC; TAN).
• Ayurvedics suggest the plant for anorexia, cough, dermatosis, fever, splenomegaly, itch, parasites, throat, tumors, and worms (KAB).
• Balkans take black mustard early in the morning to prevent fainting spells and stroke, to cheer the mind and help the memory (HJP).
• Iranians use mustard as an emetic for narcotic poisoning (HJP).
• Lebanese boil the seed with juniper berries for dropsy (HJP).
• Lebanese poultice the seeds, with or without flaxseed, for chest cold and counterirritant (HJP).
• Syrians use mustard for indurations of the spleen (JLH).
• Unani view seeds as antiedemic, antiinflammatory, antitussive, bechic, laxative, orexi-genic, stomachic, using for boils, rhuematism, splenomegaly, and toothache (KAB).
Downsides (Black Mustard):
Class 1 (Internal, ingestion of too much can be irritating); Class 2b (External; duration not to exceed 2 weeks); not for children under 6 years of age. Severe burns can occur with long-term topical use (AHP). Contraindications: children younger than 6 years; renal disease (mustard oil is absorbed through the skin). Even external poultice should be limited to 5 to 10 minutes pediatrically, 10 to 15 minutes for adults, less for sensitive patients (KOM). Millspaugh has said "unground seeds ... proved dangerous, as they are liable to become impacted in the bowel and set up a fatal inflammation" (CEB), 15 to 30 minutes plaster can cause severe burns (AHP). Adverse effects: skin and nervous damage (prolonged use). Should not be used for more than 2 weeks (AEH). Avoid taking with ammonia-containing products as ammonia with mustard oil yields inactive thiosinamine (PH2). Contraindicated in GI ulcers and nephrosis (PHR). Overdoses internally cause GI distress (PHR). Hyperthyroidism with goiter traced "to the use of the isothiocyanates in mustard" (APA). Delaneyite nitpickologists will doubtless clamber to put the same goitrogenic warning on all members of the mustard family as well as papaya, caper, and nasturtium.
Natural History (Black Mustard):
The plants are fairly high in vitamins, minerals, and protein. The leaves are eaten by ducks, musk-rats, and deer, and serve as shelter for small aquatic animal life. Black mustard is insect pollinated. Bees collect the copious mustard nectar and produce a mild-flavored, light-colored honey. Mildews appear on the leaves, causing malformation of flower heads and pods, a situation often controlled by sulfur dusting or spraying with Bordeaux Mixture. Main insect pest is Mustard Sawfly (Athalia lugens proxima), larvae of which feed on the leaves. Nematodes include Ditylenchus dipsaci, Het-erodera crucifera, H. schachtii, Meloidogyne arenaria, M. hapla, Nacobbus aberrans, Xiphinema indicum, Pratylenchus penetrans, and P. pratensis (HOE).
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