Mustard Bath: Benefits, Recipe and More

A mustard bath is a mixture of mustard powder and other ingredients that people add to a foot or full body bath. Manufacturers of commercially made mustard bath preparations generally claim that their products help soothe and detoxify the body and promote well-being.

This article describes what a mustard bath is and discusses the potential benefits of mustard baths according to scientific research.

It also provides advice on how to prepare a mustard bath at home and describes the potential risks and side effects of mustard baths.

A mustard bath is a mixture of mustard powder and warm water that a person uses to soak their feet or body.

A mustard bath contains powdered mustard seeds along with other ingredients, such as:

  • essential oils, which may include:
  • alkaline ingredients, such as baking soda or baking soda

Mustard baths make the bath water alkaline due to the addition of sodium bicarbonate or baking soda. Some people claim that alkaline baths are beneficial to health, although there is little scientific evidence to support this claim.

Manufacturers of mustard baths often claim that their products help to:

Studies investigating the potential health benefits of mustard baths are limited.

There are very few scientific studies looking at the potential health benefits of mustard baths.

Additionally, it is unclear whether the potential benefits are due to the mustard seed, the other ingredients, or the alkalinity of the bath water. These factors are discussed below.

Beneficial effects of mustard baths

A 2020 study investigated the effects of a mustard foot bath on respiratory tract infections. The researchers hypothesized that the warming effects of the treatment may have a positive effect on participants’ health and perceived well-being, which may boost participants’ immunity.

Researchers asked participants to soak their feet in a mustard foot bath daily for 6 days. The footbath consisted of water at a temperature of 104ºF (40ºC), to which participants added 3 tablespoons of ground black mustard seed powder.

The participants answered a standard questionnaire on the perception of heat before and after the footbath. Use of mustard foot bath has been associated with improvements in various categories, including:

  • cold feeling
  • euphoria
  • faintness

According to the researchers, the benefits of mustard foot baths may be due to the following:

  • natural compounds called “glucosinolates” in the mustard plant, which may have antibacterial, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties
  • the thermal effects of the combination of mustard and hot water, which may have a beneficial effect on perceptions of well-being

Beneficial effects of alkaline baths

Mustard baths typically contain alkaline ingredients, such as baking soda or baking soda. Some people use alkaline baths to treat certain skin conditions, such as eczema and psoriasis.

A study 2019 notes that sodium bicarbonate has antimicrobial properties that can help treat psoriatic lesions. However, this study found that application of topical sodium bicarbonate solution did not result in improvement of psoriatic lesions.

However, the study above involved the use of a topical alkaline solution. As such, it is unclear whether an alkaline bath may be more effective in treating psoriatic lesions.

Benefits of Additional Ingredients

The purported benefits of mustard baths may be partly attributable to other ingredients in the preparation, such as essential oils and spices.

A 2018 randomized controlled trial of 70 participants compared the effects of a foot bath consisting of one of the following:

  • warm water and mustard
  • warm water and ginger
  • hot water only

The study found that the addition of mustard and ginger increased the perception of warmth in participants’ feet, compared to hot water alone. The results suggest that mustard and ginger may increase heat perceptions.

Mustard bath preparations can differ in water temperature and volume as well as added ingredients. People can also apply different products to their skin after a mustard bath.

These differences make it difficult for scientists to determine the potential health benefits of mustard baths.

Further large-scale clinical trials are needed to determine if and to what extent mustard baths may be beneficial in treating different health conditions.

Many grocery stores and specialty health food stores carry commercially made mustard bath products. Different brands may contain different ingredients and instructions for preparation and use.

However, manufacturers generally recommend soaking in the mixture for 20 minutes. Some also suggest taking a cold shower after soaking.

A person can also prepare their own mustard bath ingredients at home. Mustard powder is a spice that people can find in the spice section of the grocery store. Other ingredients a person can add to their formula include:

There is no standard recipe for a mustard bath, and different recipes will call for different ingredients and amounts.

The concentration of mustard powder in water can also differ from recipe to recipe. One option for a homemade mustard bath is to add a quarter to a full cup of mustard powder to a bathtub full of warm water.

Since few studies have explored the use of mustard baths, it is difficult to determine the specific risks and side effects of this treatment.

The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) does not provide specific bath temperature recommendations. Hot baths can dry out the skin, which can make some skin conditions worse. The AAD also recommends limiting bath time to 15 minutes or less to avoid further drying out the skin.

People with existing skin conditions should not use mustard baths in place of conventional therapies for their condition. Many conditions can get worse without proper medical treatment. For example, untreated psoriasis can lead to worsening skin symptoms and psoriatic arthritis.

A mustard bath is a preparation of mustard powder and other ingredients mixed with lukewarm water, which a person uses to soak their feet or the whole body.

Manufacturers of mustard baths generally claim that their preparations can help soothe and detoxify the body as well as promote well-being.

Existing evidence suggests that mustard baths may have a warming effect on the skin, which may boost feelings of well-being. However, more clinical trials are needed to determine the benefits and potential health risks of mustard baths.

Commercially prepared mustard baths are available at most specialty health stores. Alternatively, a person can prepare their own mustard bath preparation using mustard powder and other essential oils of their choice.

A person who has an existing skin condition should consult a doctor or dermatologist before using a mustard bath. Soaking or heating the skin can exacerbate some skin conditions.

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