Substances & Homeopatic Remedies

Sinapis nigra

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The virtues of Black Mustard depend on an acrid, volatile oil contained in the seeds, combined with an active principle containing much sulphur. The acridity of the oil is modified in the seeds by being combined with another fixed oil of a bland nature, which can be separated.

The epidermal cells of the seed-coat contain much less mucilage than those of White Mustard seeds, but the cotyledons of Black Mustard seeds contain from 31 to 33 per cent of a fixed oil, which consists of the glycerides of Oleic, Stearic and Erucic or Brassic and Behenic acids. The seeds also contain the crystalline glucoside Sinigrin and the enzyme Myrosin. These substances are stored in separate cells. When brought together in water, the volatile Oil of Mustard is formed. It is distilled from the seeds that have been deprived of most of the fixed oil and macerated in water for several hours, and contains from go to 99 per cent of the active principle, Allyl isothiocyanate, which is used as a counter irritant. It is on account of the abundant sulphur contained by this active principle that mustard discolours silver spoons left in it, black sulphuret of silver being formed.

Neither White nor Black Mustard seeds contain starch when ripe.

It was formerly supposed that Black Mustard was deficient in the enzyme Myrosin, and White Mustard was added to correct this and to secure the maximum pungency. It has been proved, however, that Black Mustard contains sufficient of the enzyme, and that no increase in the yield of the volatile oil is effected by adding White Mustard. The main object in using both Black and White Mustard for preparing mustard flour, is probably the production of a commercial article with a better flavour than could be obtained otherwise.

Members of this family, like those of the Cleomaceae, Capparaceae, and others, characteristically yield isothiocyanates when damaged. These isothiocyanates, otherwise known as mustard oils, are derived from compounds known as glucosinolates by the action of myrosinase, an enzyme.
Isothiocyanates have irritant effects on the skin and can also be allergenic (Mitchell & Jordan 1974). Hedge et al. (1980) remarked that there was no known taxon belonging to the family Cruciferae that was devoid of glucosinolates. However, a few species are known that do not produce mustard oils from their glucosinolates; others release only trace quantities of mustard oils; others release mustard oils that spontaneously cyclise to form oxazolidinethiones (Cole 1976) which are goitrogenic but probably not allergenic.
Thus, not all members of this family are necessarily dermatological hazards. Certain Brassica L., Sinapis L., and Eruca Miller species have been suspected of evoking Oppenheim's meadow dermatitis, but a combination of irritation from the plants and sunburn was probably responsible.
Generally, members of this family appear to be able to accumulate nickel from soils rich in this element (Sasse 1979). Specifically, certain members of the genera Alyssum L., Bornmuellera Hausskn., Peltaria Jacq., and Streptanthus Nutt. may be regarded as locally important in this respect.

 J Agric Food Chem. 2005 Nov 30;53(24):9465-71.  
Antioxidant characterization of some Sicilian edible wild greens.
Salvatore S, Pellegrini N, Brenna OV, Del Rio D, Frasca G, Brighenti F, Tumino R.
Department of Public Health, University of Parma, 39 Via Volturno, 43100 Parma, Italy.

Epidemiological studies have demonstrated that many antioxidants and the total antioxidant capacity (TAC) of the diet may protect against cancers and cardiovascular disease. Common fruits and vegetables are good sources of antioxidants, although in some Mediterranean areas traditional wild greens are responsible for a significant percentage of total dietary antioxidant intake. In the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition cohort of Ragusa (Sicily), a high number of subjects were found to frequently eat wild greens, including Sinapis incana and Sinapis nigra, Diplotaxis erucoides, Cichorium intybus, Asparagus acutifolius, and Borrago officinalis. On the basis of these observations, detailed characterization of single antioxidant components (i.e., polyphenols, carotenoids, chlorophylls, and ascorbic acid) and the TAC of these edible wild traditional plants was performed. The wild plants examined were found to be very rich in antioxidants, such as flavonoids and carotenoids, with high TAC values, suggesting that the importance of these vegetables, not only in the traditional but even in the contemporary diet, needs to be emphasized.