The dried seeds of the black mustard plant are easily powdered. Dried mustard can be purchased in markets and in drug stores. The powder is one of the most important herbal medicines, in that it will quickly bring blood to the surface of the skin. This rubefacient ability is very useful in preparing poultices to alleviate chest and other congestions, and as an ingredient in hot footbaths to draw chest or nasal congestions or headaches away from the upper extremities. Mustard flour is an antiseptic and a deodorizer for the kitchen.
Foot Bath Add about a tablespoon or more of the dried powder to any hot footbath for a cold in the head, a chest cough, or a headache. The blood will flow away from the overcongested area and rush to the feet. The body soon sends the blood back through normal channels, and proper circulation is restored.
Mustard Poultice (Plaster)
Add one tablespoon of mustard to every four of flour. The more flour, the weaker the plaster or poultice will be. Mix the two ingredients in a bowl and add a very small amount of warm water, just enough to make a nonrunny paste. Fold two large, clean, men's handkerchiefs,
or use a dish cloth so that the paste cannot run out. Add the mustard paste, and apply it on the congested chest or painful rheumatic area. Add olive or castor oil to the skin first if the patient has a delicate skin.
These mustard poultices (also called plasters) are invaluable. I have often used them to relieve sudden congestion or rheumatic type pain. At a party a woman told me of her recent good experience with this poultice. "I worked hard, almost too hard to clear my desk in order to take this planned trip to Turkey, and because of my fatigue came down with a severe laryngitis and extreme tightness of the chest. My physician came over and checked those heavy rumbling chest rales, and knew by the clicking sound he heard through the stethoscope that I had an infection and heavy mucus on my lungs. He told me I could not go on the trip, but he gave me an antibiotic, and agreed to come back to see me in the morning.
"After the doctor left, my husband and I were depressed. After all, we were looking forward to the trip, and it was all paid for in advance. I called my elder sister and cried on the phone, and she said, 'Hey, wait a minute, let's not give up. Maybe mama's remedies could work.' She came over with a box of mustard powder from the drugstore, made it into a poultice, and applied it over my chest and back, all through the night. We kept on shifting it, and honestly, I kept on feeling better and better.
"When the physician came over the next morning, he was stunned to see me up and around, cheerful, and ready for the trip. He said he had never seen antibiotics work so fast, Because I'm prone to chest congestions, I'm never without some mustard powder now."