Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Thursday, March 10, 2005


Page 15



Does Mustard Aid Digestion, Stimulate Appetite? It ‘Doth’





It might be counter-intuitive but, as the ad appearing above proclaims, mustard actually aids digestion of foods, as well as perking the appetite.

In 1597, English botanist John Gerarde observed in his book, “The Herball,” that “the seede of Mustard pounded with vinegar is an excellent sauce, good to be eaten with any grosse meates, either fish or flesh, because it doth helpe digestion, warmeth the stomacke, and provoketh appetite.”

And, it “doth.”

I’ve made mention here before of The Mustard Club, formed in England as a promotional gimmick for Colman’s Mustard. The “club” was in existence from 1926-33. Among the rules was that “every member shall on all proper occasions eat mustard to improve his appetite and strengthen his digestion.”

Another rule was “that every member shall instruct his children to ‘keep that schoolboy digestion’ by forming the habit of eating mustard.”

It wasn’t just Colman’s that was promoting awareness of the beneficial effect of mustard on digestion. A July 9, 1925 ad for Gulden’s Mustard appearing in a Connecticut newspaper declared, “Food authorities call it ‘digestion’s best friend.”

It continued:

“THE piquant mustard flavor awakens your tastebuds—the sensitive nerves of the mouth. They instantly quicken and increase the flow of saliva and other digestive juices. Thus Gulden’s is a valuable aid to digestion.”

A columnist reported in the Lima (Ohio) News on July 21, 1969:

“According to Prof. Hans Glatzel, head of the clinical physiology department at Max Planck Institute, in Dortmund, Germany, spices like garlic, mustard, chili and peppers of all sorts, belong in the average diet. Chili and cayenne peppers, for example, stimulate the flow of beneficial stomach juices for a short time, and mustard has the same effect but for longer periods. This is why heavy foods are more quickly and thoroughly digested when taken with mustard; the food does not remain deadweight in the stomach.”

Going beyond the matter of exciting appetite and aiding digestion, the column continued:

“Juices which have been stimulated by the spices help pass the heavy food more quickly through the intestine. Glatzel also pointed out mustard frequently has beneficial a effect upon the heart and circulation. The heart reacts to the taste and aroma of mustard by reducing its beat volume. Without mustard the beat volume after a meal rises approximately 15 per cent. Therefore, he suggests, by a judicious choice of spices, the heart action favorably can be influenced.”

Other traditional medicinal uses of mustard include these:

“Small amounts of the ground [mustard] seeds mixed with water act as a laxative and can relieve acid indigestion.”

That’s according to “Magic and Medicine of Plants,” a book published by Reader’s Digest in 1986.

But too much mustard with water would not be a good idea—unless it happens that you just swallowed some poison. Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition (2001) recognizes what has long been known: mustard can act as an “emetic”—that is, induces vomiting.

A 1939 field booklet provided by Great Britain’s Royal Army Medical Corps instructed:

“If the patient is conscious end able to swallow, an emetic can be given. The best emetic is a tablespoonful of mustard or common salt mixed with half a mug or tumbler of warm water....A prompt emetic has saved many lives.”

Next week I’ll look at some recently discovered medicinal uses for mustard.


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