In some countries, pure mustard oil is considered a delectable delicacy and used in all types of native cuisines like authentic Indian food but not in the United States. In fact, you cannot consume mustard oil in the U.S., as well as in Canada and the EU.

However, if you travel to places like Korea, China, and Bangladesh, you can enjoy the spicy taste of mustard oil, something sure to clear your sinuses, according to The New York Times. While you can sell mustard oil in the U.S., Fox News reports that it has to come with a warning label stating “For External Use Only.”

External use means mustard oil can be used as a massage oil, but it cannot be used in cooking or be imported into the U.S. in any pure form. What makes the United States and other countries find the oil dangerous when other countries use it so freely?

One mustard oil component has medical experts worrying

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, as well as regulators in the EU and Canada, have determined that erucic acid found in pure mustard oil can be dangerous in large amounts. According to Medical News Today, it has been known to cause a heart condition called myocardial lipidosis.

Medical News Today does note that there are indicators mustard oil can produce heart problems in children, a very valid reason to keep the pure form out of recipes. There’s no indication that it does this in human adults, but the FDA still banned the oil in pure form in 2016.

The FDA rule known as Import Alert #26-04 specifically states: “Expressed mustard oil is not permitted for use as a vegetable oil. It may contain 20 to 40% erucic acid, which has been shown to cause nutritional deficiencies and cardiac lesions in test animals.” (via Fox News).

However, what is known as “essential oil of mustard” is allowed and used as a flavoring in many spicy recipes at home and in restaurants.

The benefits of essential mustard oil are numerous

Despite pure express mustard oil posing a danger if consumed, essential mustard oil has many health benefits when used topically. Healthline reports that mustard oil can promote healthy skin and hair, slow down the growth of cancerous cells, help relieve pain, and reduce swelling.

Mustard oil is often used during massages and can be diffused into the air. However, Medical News Today advises you not to diffuse mustard oil around anyone who may have an allergy to it.

Healthline adds that one of the best uses of mustard oil is to help alleviate common cold symptoms. Adding a bit of essential oil of mustard to boiling water produces a decongestant steam, as does adding it to camphor and applying it to the chest. So, while you can’t consume pure mustard oil, you can use a form of it to improve your life.

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