English: Brown mustard seeds

Chinese: 黄芥子

Parts used: Dried ripe seeds

TCM category: Warm herbs that transform Phlegm and stop Cough

TCM nature: Warm

TCM taste(s): Pungent

Organ affinity: Lung

Scientific name: Brassica juncea

Other names: Chinese mustard, Indian mustard, Leaf mustard, Oriental mustard or Vegetable mustard

Use of Huang Jie Zi (brown mustard seeds ) in TCM

Please note that you should never self-prescribe TCM ingredients. A TCM ingredient is almost never eaten on its own but as part of a formula containing several ingredients that act together. Please consult a professional TCM practitioner, they will be best able to guide you.

Preparation: Collect ripe seeds and dry them.

Dosage: 3-9 grams

Main actions according to TCM*: Moistens the Lungs and removes phlegm. Reduces swelling and eases pain. Warms body core and expels coldness.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which Huang Jie Zi may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Vomiting Abdominal pain Chest pain Coughing Phlegm Muscle cramps

Key TCM concepts behind Huang Jie Zi's properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Huang Jie Zi belongs to the 'Warm herbs that transform Phlegm and stop Cough' category. In TCM Phlegm is a condition of Stagnation of Fluids which tends to start in the Spleen and then goes to the Lungs. If this overly accumulates it thickens and becomes pathological Phlegm. Phlegm, being a form of Stagnation, often starts as being Cool and transforms to Hot as the condition progresses. The herbs in this category are Warm in nature so they treat the early stages of the Stagnation: Cold-Phlegm and Wet-Phlegm with symptoms of wheezing, vomiting and nausea.

As suggested by its category Huang Jie Zi is Warm in nature. This means that Huang Jie Zi tends to help people who have too much 'Cold' in their body, although with less effect than a plant that would be Hot in nature. Balance between Yin and Yang is a key health concept in TCM. Those who have too much Cold in their body are said to either have a Yin Excess (because Yin is Cold in nature) or a Yang Deficiency (Yang is Hot in Nature). Depending on your condition Huang Jie Zi can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Huang Jie Zi also tastes Pungent. The so-called 'Five Phases' theory in Chinese Medicine states that the taste of TCM ingredients is a key determinant of their action in the body. Pungent ingredients like Huang Jie Zi tends to promote the circulations of Qi and Body Fluids. That's why for instance someone tends to sweat a lot when they eat spicy/pungent food.

The tastes of ingredients in TCM also determine what Organs and Meridians they target. As such Huang Jie Zi is thought to target the Lung. In addition to performing respiration, the Lungs are thought in TCM to be a key part of the production chain for Qi and the Body Fluids that nourish the body.

Research on Huang Jie Zi

Studies on rats have shown that brown mustard seeds have hypoglycemic and anti-hyperglycemic effects.1


1. Grover, J.K., Yadav, S. & Vats, V. Mol Cell Biochem (2002) 241: 95. https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1020814709118

Use of Huang Jie Zi as food

Huang Jie Zi is also eaten as food. It is used as an ingredient in dishes such as Pickled Mustard Seeds.