In India, the benefits of mustard oil are very well known. Seemingly everyone in the North puts it on the hair. Mothers commonly put mustard oil on their babies’ skin.
Many of the benefits of mustard seed oil are rooted in folk medicine and not scientifically proven. However, there has been an increasing amount of research into mustard seed oil for health. Here is what the research shows about the benefits of mustard seed oil for your hair, skin, arthritis, and more.
1. Rich in Essential Fatty Acids
Mustard oil is very rich in essential fatty acids (EFAs). EFAs are important for manufacturing cells, neurological function, cardiovascular health, immunity, and much more.
Of the fatty acids in mustard oil, approximately 6% is Omega 3. By comparison, olive oil contains less than 1% Omega 3. Salmon fat contains 4.8%. Of common oils, only flax oil contains more Omega 3 (8%).
Good Omega 3 to omega 6 ratio
Not only does mustard oil contain a large percentage of Omega 3, it also contains it in a good ratio with Omega 6.
Consuming a high ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 can cause inflammation and increase the risk of diseases. Further, Omega 6 inhibits the body’s ability to turn Omega 3 into the long-chain fatty acids DHA and EPA. Both DHA and EPA are essential for fighting disease and maintaining metabolic processes.
Research shows that the “ideal” ratio of Omega 3 to Omega 6 is 1:2. With just 15% Omega 6, mustard seed oil almost perfectly meets this ratio. (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
Mustard oil has anti-inflammatory benefits in the body. The benefits are not just because of the high Omega 3 content of mustard oil. It also contains many anti-inflammatory compounds such as polyphenol antioxidants. (7, 8)
3. Good for Skin
Mustard oil is well known for its skin benefits. When rubbed on the skin, it is a great moisturizer which also improves circulation to the skin. Its anti-inflammatory benefits can help heal skin infections and promotes wound healing when applied topically.
As a rich source of antioxidants such as carotenes as well as vitamins, it can improve skin nutrition. However, there is little evidence to back up these skin benefits of mustard oil when it is applied topically. There are studies, however, which show consuming mustard oil can slow signs of aging and improve collagen production in the skin. (9, 10)
Mustard oil is traditionally used to prevent hair loss and reverse gray hair. Unfortunately, there is little actual scientific evidence to back up these benefits. However, there is ample research which shows that Omega 3 can stimulate hair growth in follicles and improve hair thickness.
There is also some research does show that applying mustard oil to the hair prevents protein loss. Protein loss occurs when hair is cleaned or dyed and can make the hair thin and brittle. By applying mustard oil to hair, you can prevent this and make your hair stronger and fuller. As a moisturizer and anti-inflammatory, mustard oil is also great for treating dandruff. (11, 12)
Also Read: Best Mustard Seed Oil for Hair
5. Anti-Fungal and Antibacterial
Mustard oil contains numerous compound with antimicrobial properties. The most significant ones are glucosinolates, which are responsible for the pungent smell of mustard. They work by breaking the cell walls of harmful microbes.
Various studies have found that these mustard oil compounds are effective in killing various strains of bacteria and fungi. Researchers even concluded that the reason ringworm is rare in India is because mustard oil is commonly used on hair. (13, 14)
6. Treat Arthritis
Mustard oil is traditionally mixed with turmeric or Indian rosewood then applied to painful joints. However, research shows that even mustard oil by itself can help reduce arthritis pain. The benefits are attributed to mustard oil’s anti-inflammatory properties. It also improves blood flow which can reduce stiffness in arthritic joints. To use, massage mustard oil directly onto the joints. (15, 16, 17, 18)
7. Source of Antioxidants
Mustard is a great source of flavonoid and carotenoid antioxidants such as carotenes, zeaxanthins, and lutein vitamins A, C, and K.72 These components altogether make it rich in antioxidants, resulting in the slowing of the aging process.89 In addition, Vitamin E is a potent fat-soluble antioxidant that maintains the integrity of mucus membranes by shielding them from harmful oxygen-free radicals. (19, 20)
8. Heart Health
Mustard oil is considered to be even better than olive oil for heart health. It is low in saturated fats and contains high amounts of heart-healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated oils. Its numerous antioxidants can also help cardiovascular health. Various studies show that people cooking with mustard oil were less likely to have heart disease. (21, 22)
A promising benefit of mustard oil is for fighting cancer. It contains a compound called Allyl isothiocyanate which may help slow the growth of some types of cancer. The glucosinolates in mustard oil also inhibit cancer by inhibiting the transcription process of cancer cells. (23, 24, 25)
10. Cough and Respiratory Ailments
Mustard seed is used in traditional folk remedies for cough. The seed are often ground into a poultice and applied to the chest. It can also be steamed and inhaled. Research supports these benefits. It is thought to work by opening the airways, stimulating the flow of mucus and breaking up phlegm. (26)
11. Natural Mosquito Repellent
Mustard seed oil is often used in India as a natural mosquito repellent. There are also numerous studies which back up this benefit. It seems to work best as a carrier oil for other anti-mosquito oils but you can also use mustard seed oil by itself to repel mosquitoes. (27, 28, 29)