The Ancient Origins of Mustard Oil

Let us you back in time to more than five thousand years ago when mustard grew wild in the foothills of the Himalayas. Food historians tell us that around 3000 BCE, ancient Indian farmers began cultivating mustard. And archaeological evidence indicates that mustard and mustard oil was used in the cities of the Indus Valley Civilization: Mohenjo-Daro, Harappa and Dhola Vira.

In addition to widespread culinary uses, mustard was also used extensively in the ancient Indian healing science of Ayurveda. There are numerous formulations that use mustard, mustard leaves and mustard oil. The ancient Indian doctors (known as Vaids) knew all about the anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antifungal and antibacterial properties of mustard oil – in particular, its heating action which opened up the pores of the skin and allowed the active ingredients to pervade and work at deeper levels of the body.

Across the millennia, mustard and mustard oil spread across the world travelling along the Spice Route and other trade routes to reach Rome, Gaul and Greece. Interestingly, in addition to its culinary attractions, the ancients also discovered its medicinal uses. Believe it or not, the Hippocratic Corpus – an ancient collection of Greek medical writings – talks about mustard and its curative properties!

These ancient Greek writings contain numerous formulations for making a mustard paste that could be used for relieving muscular pain and for curing toothaches. Even in ancient far-flung countries Indian mustard was revered for its healing touch.

Truly, Mustard is India’s gift to the World!

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