Applications To Health Promotion And Disease Prevention

Though brown mustard seed has been a well-known and generally used spice in India for centuries (Kapoor, 1990), it has been employed in recent medication not only in India and China, but also in Europe and North America. Traditional and present-day medicinal applications of seeds are given in Table 78.1.

TABLE 78.1 Traditional and Present-Day Medicinal Applications of Brassica juncea Seeds

Symptoms/

Effects

Form of Application

Geographic Area of

Reference(s)

Diseases

Application

External

Abscesses

Anti-inflammatory

Mustard paste

China, India, North

Duke, 2002; Small,

(poultice, plaster)

America

2006; Khare, 2004

Backache

Analgesic

Mustard paste

India

Duke, 2002; Khare,

(poultice, plaster)

2004

Foot ache

Analgesic

Mustard paste

India

Duke, 2002; Khare,

(poultice, plaster)

2004

Lumbago

Analgesic

Mustard paste

India

Duke, 2002; Khare,

(poultice, plaster)

2004

Rheumatism

Analgesic

Mustard paste

China, India

Duke, 2002; Khare,

(poultice, plaster)

2004

Snake bite

Anti-inflammatory,

No data

No data

Duke, 2002

antiseptic

Skin cancer/diseases

Antitumor

No data

China, India

Duke, 2002; Khare,

2004

Swelling

Anti-inflammatory

Mustard paste

No data

Duke, 2002

(poultice, plaster)

Ulcer

Anti-inflammatory

No data

China

Small, 2006

Internal

Anorexia

Appetizer, digestive,

Whole and ground

India

Duke, 2002; Khare,

gastrostimulant

seeds

2004

Chest infections

Stimulant,

Seed oil

India

Kapoor, 1990

expectorant

(embrocation)

Cold

Anti-inflammatory,

Mustard paste

China, India

Khare, 2004

antibacterial

(poultice, plaster)

Dysentery

Antidysenteric

Whole and ground

India

Duke, 2002; Khare,

seeds

2007

Dyspepsia

Appetizer, digestive,

Whole and ground

India

Duke, 2002

gastrostimulant

seeds

Eruptions

Anti-inflammatory

Mustard paste

China

Small, 2006

(poultice, plaster)

Enlargement of liver/

Anti-inflammatory

No data

India

Khare, 2004

spleen

Fever

Febrifuge

No data

No data

Duke, 2002

Parasites (fungi,

Parasiticide,

Whole and ground

India

Duke, 2002; Khare,

vermin)

vermifuge, fungicide

seeds

2007

Pneumonia

Stimulant,

Mustard paste

No data

Duke, 2002

expectorant

(poultice, plaster)

Stomach disorders

Digestive,

Whole and ground

China, India

Kapoor, 1990; Duke,

gastrostimulant,

seeds

2002; Small, 2006;

laxative, emetic

Khare, 2007

Stomachache

Digestive,

Whole and ground

India

Duke, 2002; Khare,

gastrostimulant,

seeds

2007

laxative

Tumor of throat

Antitumor

No data

China

Duke, 2002

Tumor of uterus

Antitumor

No data

China

Duke, 2002

Tumor of wrist

Antitumor

No data

China

Duke, 2002

To understand the effects of Indian mustard seeds (whether in whole or powdered form), it is necessary to know the chemical composition. Plants of the Brassica genus contain special sulfur compounds called glucosinolates (e.g., sinigrin and sinalbin), which are very important secondary metabolites. These glucosinolates are inactive until they react with water or any moisture. At this point, they are hydrolyzed to isothiocyanates (resulting in a pungent, irritating odor and characteristic flavor), glucose, and potassium bisulfate (Peter, 2004; Small, 2006; Cartea & Velasco, 2008). Mustard seed oil comprises mainly erucic, arachidic, a-linolenic, oleic, and palmitic acids (Kapoor, 1990; Peter, 2004; Table 78.2).

The above-mentioned glucosinolates, which are generally present in the highest concentrations in seeds (Cartea & Velasco, 2008), may have a key role in cancer prevention, mainly in the initiation or promotion phases and in cell apoptosis. Results have shown that products of the enzymatic breakdown of glucosinolates can regulate cancer development through the induction of detoxification enzymes and/or inhibition of activation enzymes. Detoxification enzymes such as glutathione-S-transferase (GST) or NADPH reductase can conjugate with carcinogens, transforming them into a water-soluble inactive form that can later be excreted through urine. At the same time, enzymes like cytochrome P450s that activate carcinogens in animal and human cells can become inhibited due to glucosinolates and their degradation products (Fahey etal., 2001; Cartea & Velasco, 2008). The literature also describes antibacterial, insecticidal, nematocidal, and antifungal activities of glucosinolates and isothiocyanates (Fahey et al., 2001).

TABLE 78.2 Main Chemical Components of Brassica juncea Seeds

TABLE 78.2 Main Chemical Components of Brassica juncea Seeds

Main Chemical Components

Bioactivities for Human Health Known

Reference(s)

Glucosinolates

Sinigrin Progoitrin

After enzymatic hydrolysis of sinigrin volatile components (allyl isothiocyanates) cause external or internal irritation and local vasodilation; regulating cancer cell development

Percursor of goitrin which inhibits thyroperoxidase

Kapoor, 1990; Duke, 1983, 2002; Fahey etal., 2001; Peter, 2004; Cartea & Velasco, 2008

Cartea and Velasco, 2008

Sterols (phytosterols)

Brassicasterol

Campesterol

Sitosterol

Avenasterol

Stigmasterol

All have cholesterol-decreasing properties

Duke, 1983 Duke, 1983 Duke, 1983 Duke, 1983 Duke, 1983

Glycerid ester of

Arachidic acid Erucic acid a-Linolenic acid Oleic acid Palmitic acid

No data No data

Reduces the risk of ischemic heart disease No data No data

Peter, 2004 Peter, 2004 Rastogi et al., 2004 Peter, 2004 Peter, 2004

Other components

Sinapic acid

Sinapine

Proteins

No data No data No data

Peter, 2004 Peter, 2004 Peter, 2004

It is not only the glucosinolates and their breakdown products that have chemoprotective effects in several types of cancers; sterols of mustard seeds do, too. Sterols (or phytosterols, Table 78.2), which are cholesterol-like molecules, are used as dietary supplements due to their cholesterol-reducing ability (Yadav, Vats, Ammini, & Gover, 2004). Some researchers have focused on the influences of plant sterols on stomach cancer, and a strongly negative relationship was found between total phytosterol intake and gastric cancer risk (De Stefani et al., 2000).

When the beneficial effects of mustard oil, which comprises a remarkable amount of a-lino-lenic acid, was examined in India, a two-fold lower risk of ischemic heart disease was observed (Rastogi et al., 2004).

To date, several studies have already confirmed its beneficial effects on serum glucose levels and kidney function in diabetic rats. Although a diet containing mustard powder did not reduce the blood glucose level significantly, serum creatinin values, a marker of diabetic nephropathy, decreased. Results show that the seeds of Brassica juncea should potentially be applied as a food adjuvant for non-genetic diabetes (Grover et al., 2002, 2003). In rats fed a special diet containing curry leaf and Indian mustard seeds, a decrease in total serum cholesterol and low or very low density lipoprotein (LDL, VLDL) levels was observed (Khan et al., 1996). Besides the antihyperglycemic and antihypercholesterolemic capacities, there are some data regarding the antihyperlipidemic activity of Brassica juncea seeds. At the same time, it is still not obvious whether this effect is a consequence of direct or indirect mechanisms (Yadav et al., 2004). Moreover, seeds have antioxidant power, too. When lipid peroxidation as a marker of oxidative stress induced by a high-fat diet in rats was examined, amelioration appeared with curry leaf and brown mustard seed application (Khan et al., 1997).

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