Mustard is a member of the Brassica family of plants. There are 3 main types used to make mustard seeds; white mustard (Brassica alba), brown mustard (Brassica juncea) and black mustard (Brassica nigra). Allyl isothiocyanate belongs to a family of naturally occurring isothiocyanates and is a promising cancer protective compound. Mustard seed powder is a well-known rich resource of allyl isothiocyanate with centuries-old history of use in Ayurvedic medicine and Chinese traditional medicine. In animal-based studies intake of isothiocyanates has been shown to inhibit growth of existing cancer cells and to be preventive against the formation of such cells.
Mustard seeds are rich in nutrients such as glucosinolates and isothiocyanates. Isothiocyanates are biologically active hydrolysis products of glucosinolates. Isothiocyanates have been found to inhibit proliferation and induce apoptosis in a number of cancer cell lines. Naturally occurring isothiocyanates and their metabolites have been found to inhibit the occurrence of chemically-induced cancers of the liver, lung, stomach, esophagus, colon, and small intestine in a variety of animal models.
Scientists at the “Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine” in Baltimore explored the metabolism of isothiocyanates and showed that isothiocyanates were approximately 6 times more bioavailable than glucosinolates. According to a research reported in Carcinogenesis in May 2003, allyl isothiocyanate (AITC) is influential against prostate cancer cells. Allyl isothiocyanate is a promising agent for bladder cancer protection and therapy. A recent study shows that a plant compound -allyl isothiocyanate (AITC)- in mustard and horseradish may be effective in fighting bladder cancer. According to” Environmental Health News“, a study performed on rats that were given mustard seed powder found the plant compound ‘stopped the growth of bladder cancer by one-third and completely prevented metastasis — the cancer invasion of surrounding muscle tissue.’