Over the last couple of weeks there have been over 28 employee complaints filed against the fast food giant, McDonald’s. Amongst these was a complaint from an employee who suffered a burn from falling on a grill. This employee was subsequently told by a supervisor to put mustard on the wound. Not mayo, not ketchup, not relish… but mustard.
According to the report Brittney Berry, a McDonalds employee at a store in Chicago, fell on a wet floor and burned her forearm on the grill. Managers told her to put mustard on it – but she ended up being taken to the hospital in an ambulance where she was put on morphine for pain. She lost three weeks of work unpaid and has to take a six-month medical leave as a result of the injury that caused nerve damage.
While Brittney’s claim is part of a larger organized effort to improve workplace conditions at McDonald’s across the country – it still begs the question… can mustard really ease a burn?
Rather than take the angle of attacking McDonald’s for poor work conditions (which plenty of people are already doing), we decided to do a little research into the ever popular condiment. Here is what we found out…
Can mustard help a burn?
Our research turned up some anecdotal evidence regarding the effectiveness of mustard on burns, but nothing overly concrete or scientific. For instance, the People’s Pharmacy report several testimonials such as these:
“I work as a chef and have been using mustard for years to help heal burns…”
“Within an hour after washing [the mustard] off the burning sensations were gone and the next morning there was barely any red marks left on my skin. It works!”
We will leave it up to you whether you put cool mustard on a burn to test this out – however, we strongly encourage you to seek immediate medical attention in the case of serious burns.
What is mustard?
Mustard is a tiny little seed that delivers a strong punch. Although you may only associate mustard with hot dogs (we won’t get into why you shouldn’t be eating those) or as something to slather on a deli sandwich (without the bread of course!), it is actually quite a potent and versatile little seed with many uses, some of which are sure to surprise you.
Mustards are tall, cold-season crops with plants reaching 4-5 feet in height with golden flowers. The tiny seed is encased in a fruit pod like that of a green pea. There are three main types of mustard seeds grown around the world. White mustard seeds (Brassica alba) are light yellow and have a mild taste, black seeds (Brassica nigra) have a sharp taste and are often found in South Asia, and brown mustard seeds (Brassica juncea) which are found in the sub-Himalayan plains of Northern India.
FACT: Over 700 million pounds of mustard are consumed throughout the world each year.
Mustard is old
This favorite condiment is really old. Revered by the wealthiest of Romans, the seed was crushed at the dinner table and mixed with wine or water to make a paste – talk about fresh! While it grew in popularity as a special condiment, mustard was also used to treat war wounds. Seeds were crushed with crayfish powder and spread on open lesions to expedite healing.
The Greeks also employed mustard in much the same fashion. Romans introduced monks to mustard who cultivated it alongside grapes in vineyards. By the time the 9th century arrived, French monasteries were making a generous income from mustard sales. Parisian merchants began selling the condiment by the 13th century and Pope John XXll loved mustard enough to create a position – ‘Grand Moutardier du Pape” – (Grand Mustard-Maker to the Pope). This job he gave to his nephew who lived in Dijon. Dijon rapidly grew to be known as the mustard capital of the world. In 1634 a law was passed to grant men of Dijon the exclusive right to make mustard.
The modern history of mustard as we know it began in 1777 when Maurice Grey and Antoine Poupon founded their company combining Grey’s recipe and Poupons money. In Dijon you will still see their original store.
Almost fifty years later mustard making was established in England when Jeremiah Colman, a miller, created Colman’s Mustard of England in 1814. His unique technique involved grinding mustard seeds into a very fine powder with no heat, so that both the seed oil and strong flavor remained intact. Queen Victoria appointed Colman as her mustard maker in 1866. You will still see this proclamation and coat of arms on the mustard today.
The popularity of mustard diminished some as new and exciting spices were introduced, but the old names hung on to their fame and we still see them today. The countries that produce the most mustard today are the United States, the United Kingdom, Hungary, Canada and India. Americans, not surprisingly, consume more mustard than any other country. You can find it everywhere – from the finest of restaurants to the ballpark. But, what many people may not know is that mustard is more than just a tasty condiment. In just a bit we will explore a few ways that you can make mustard work for you.
Mustard is rich in phytonutrients, minerals, antioxidants and vitamins including the B-complex vitamins niacin, thiamin, riboflavin, folates, pyridoxine and pantothenic acid. It is high in dietary fiber and loaded with essential oils and plant sterols.
So, you may use mustard as a glaze, condiment, marinade, rub, dressing, etc… but we bet you didn’t know that this little seed can be used both inside as well as outside the kitchen. Here are seven ways to used mustard that might surprise you.
Muscle pain reliever
Curcuminoids, a group of fat soluble pigments found in ginger and turmeric (curcumin) have very strong anti-inflammatory properties which can do wonders for sore and swollen muscles. Alternative Medicine Review published a study in 2009 that found curcumin can reduce the pain associated with such inflammatory conditions as rheumatoid arthritis. Adding mustard powder or mustard oil to a warm bath can help alleviate muscle pain and swelling. Just take a shower after your bath to wash away your pungent aroma, unless of course, you like it!
If you are looking for the perfect exfoliating face mask, mild mustard may just do the trick. Test the mustard on the inside of your arm to be sure you do not have a negative reaction first, as some folks are sensitive. If this checks out – spread a thin layer of mild mustard over your face to unclog pores, tighten skin and leave it feeling soft and supple. Leave the mask on for about ten minutes, rinse with warm water and pat dry.
We love things like apple cider vinegar and coconut oil for moisturizing dry, dull hair – but who would have ever thought that mustard can actually join the likes of our two aforementioned favorites? We actually put this one to the test and sure enough, a little mustard powder mixed with olive oil leaves hair silky smooth. Work the conditioner into your hair well – being sure to cover the ends liberally. Wrap your hair in a towel or shower cap and leave the conditioner on overnight. Rinse well and shampoo as usual, You will be amazed at how great your hair looks and feels. Mustard oil is known for its ability to keep hair from turning gray.
If dropping a few pounds is on your health agenda, mustard may be able to help. Just 20 grams of mustard added to any meal can help your body burn 20% more fat. According to Jeya Henry, professor of human nutrition at Oxford Brookes University, mustard contains isothiocyanates, chemicals that dilate blood vessels and increase the fat-burning hormone ephedrine. Just a little drop is all you need to rev up your fat burning potential.
Anti-aging skin conditioner
Yes, aging is inevitable – and while there is no way to halt the clock, there are some things you can do to help your body with cellular repair which in turn, helps us age all the more gracefully. Mustard contains sulphur which makes it a strong antifungal and antibacterial agent. This helps keep skin healthy and reduce bacteria that may cause breakouts and other skin conditions. Mustard oil, also known as sarson ka tel is found in almost every Indian kitchen but it has a lot more to offer than its culinary pizzaz. For a great skin conditioner, mix a few drops of mustard oil with some organic coconut oil and massage into your face. You will feel a warming sensation – this is ok – your circulation is just revving up and that is a good thing. Rinse with warm water and find your skin feeling smooth and very clean. This oil is thick and contains a high amount of Vitamin E which can help protect skin from the sun and other environmental toxins.
Sore throat soother
We often hear of such things as honey and lemon or licorice root and peppermint for easing a sore throat, but an odd one that you might never have heard of is mustard. In fact, when you mix a tablespoon of mustard seed powder with the juice of one lemon, a pinch of sea salt, a tablespoon of raw honey and 1 ¼ cups of water and let it sit for about 15 minutes you will have a highly effective sore throat remedy. Gargle with this effective anti-inflammatory mixture several times a day to ease a sore throat and reduce the inflammation that causes pain.
Mustard seed contains Allyl Isothiocyanate (AITC) which has been shown in research to inhibit bladder cancer and the progression of bladder cancer. What studies have shown is that AITC that is found in the seeds can actually block the compounds found in processed meats such as hotdogs (nitrates) that cause cancer. In fact, five of the ingredients found in French’s Mustard (vinegar, mustard, garlic, turmeric and paprika) have all been found to have anticancer properties.
Of course, we don’t want to ease your guilty conscience every time you eat a processed hotdog by telling you to add a little mustard. There are plenty of great reasons why you should not eat hot dogs, period.
While the jury is still out on the effectiveness of mustard on burns, we encourage you to try some of these other ways to employ mustard besides using it as a condiment.
Whether you crush seeds for powder, use the oil or simply add a touch of mustard to your healthy meals – you can’t go wrong with this ancient herb packed full of health promoting properties.
-The Alternative Daily