Sinapis Alba. White mustard.

Description: Natural Order, Cruciferae. Annual plants. Stem two feet high. Leaves lyrate, all deeply pinnatifid, rough, pale-green, with stiff white hairs on both sides. Flowers in racemes, yellow. Pods nearly round, swollen, bristly, with a very long and sword-shaped beak. Seeds in a single row, round, yellowish-white. Cultivated from Europe.

SINAPIS NIGRA, black mustard, is from three to four feet high, with numerous divided and subdivided spreading branches. Leaves rough, lyrate, and lobed below; smooth, narrow, and entire above. Flowers small, yellow. Pods smooth, four-cornered, with a short style rather than a beak. Seeds smaller than in the preceding, dark brown, yellow within. In fields and waste places. Resembling the S. arvensis (wild mustard or charlock) which so often annoys the farmer.

The seeds of both white and black mustard furnish the powdered mustard of our tables. When treated by cold pressure, (see Olea fixa,) they yield a quantity of fixed oil, which is of a greenish-yellow color, and has little smell or taste. The flour from the white seeds is not pungent, when dry; but when mixed with water, a change in its constituents is effected, by virtue of which it acquires the peculiar biting acridness which distinguishes it. The flour from the black seeds, when first deprived of their fixed oil by pressure, will yield a very small quantity of volatile oil by distillation with water, which has the peculiarity of containing a distinct quantity of sulphur. No such oil exists in the dry seeds, but is developed only when water is added to them. Thus, in both kinds of these seeds, the presence of water determines a change in their constituents, by which a pungent principle is developed in the white variety, and a very acrid oil in the black variety. Such a change bears an analogy to that wrought in the almond by admixture with water. Alcohol, acids, and boiling water impair the activity of the mustards.

Properties and Uses: Mustard is an extremely biting stimulant and excitant. A teaspoonful, mixed with a few ounces of water, acts as an emetic, and is employed when quick vomiting is needed in cases of narcotic poisoning. Associated with emetics proper, it hastens the promptness of their action in similar cases. Small quantities, especially of the crushed seeds with their husks, are used in digestive atony; and have some repute as a suitable stimulant to combine with tonics and hepatics in dropsy. A teaspoonful to a tablespoonful of the whole seeds, softened in warm water, and given in molasses, prove stimulating and laxative. The powdered article, moistened with water, is much used as an external stimulant over congested organs, either as a wash, or mixed with flour and cold water and applied as a cataplasm. In the latter form, it is extremely powerful, soon causing redness and smarting, and (in less than an hour) intolerable burning and pain. It occasions persistent tenderness of the skin, is frequently followed by desquamation, and may cause blistering if too long continued; on all which accounts it can not be repeated as often as is sometimes desirable, is in this respect far inferior to capsicum, and can scarcely be considered a true Physio-Medical remedy.

The Physiomedical Dispensatory, 1869, was written by William Cook, M.D.
It was scanned by Paul Bergner at