Mustard plaster

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A mustard plaster is a poultice of mustard seed powder spread inside a protective dressing and applied to the body to stimulate healing. It can be used to warm muscle tissues and for chronic aches and pains.[1] It was once part of conventional medical treatment,[citation needed] and available in prepared versions in pharmacies. It fell from favor in the 20th century and is now only used as a home remedy.[2]

How it works[edit]

An enzymatic reaction in the wet mustard powder produces a chemical called allyl isothiocyanate, which is absorbed through the skin as a transdermal drug.[2] It provides warmth and functions as a counterirritant, meaning that it stimulates nerve endings in the skin and thereby distracts the body from deeper-seated pain.[1]


Mustard plasters were used for aches and pains, including rheumatism, arthritis, and sore muscles.[3] It was also used for chest congestion.[3]

Side effects[edit]

If left in place for too long, it can produce significant first-degree burns to the skin.[3] Fumes might cause nausea.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Sinclair, Marybetts (2007). Modern Hydrotherapy for the Massage Therapist. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. p. 101. 
  2. ^ a b Scheindlin, S (December 2004). "Transdermal drug delivery: PAST, PRESENT, FUTURE". Molecular interventions. 4 (6): 308–12. doi:10.1124/mi.4.6.1. PMID 15616157. 
  3. ^ a b c Small, Ernest (2009). Top 100 Food Plants. NRC Research Press. p. 347. ISBN 9780660198583. 

Further reading[edit]