External Applications in Anthroposophic Nursing

Mustard Powder Footbath (black mustard / brassica nigra)

Kind of substance

Mustard powder, black

Guiding principle for the application

A footbath with the addition of black mustard powder helps with complaints in the head area (e.g., headaches, migraines, incipient flu infections). The footbath relieves the head area, because it brings an inflammation to the skin of the feet and calves. Mustard powder dissolved in water releases mustard glycosides. These act in depth through the skin, whereby the metabolism in the foot area is strongly stimulated and thus the congested head pole is relieved.

Guiding Principle for the substance


  • Lack of drive
  • Functional amenorrhea in young girls
  • Depression
  • Influenza infection
  • Beginning sore throat
  • Headache
  • Migraine (see example case 2)
  • Sinusitis (Example case 1)
  • Labor induction in case of prolonged pregnancy
  • Lochia congestion
  • Milk congestion



  • There are different indications for the dosage and duration of mustard footbaths
  • Dosage and duration depend on the individual constitution and indication

  • Footbath tub, one that is high enough to reach below the hollow of the knee, if possible (alternatively use a bowl: the water should reach approx. 2 cm above the ankle, the feet can stand comfortably in the bowl)
  • Water (approx. 38°C or 100.4°F)
  • Black mustard powder (2 handfuls for a bowl bath, 2 yoghurt cups full for a high footbath tub)
  • Large terrycloth towel
  • Shower or bathtub, or a jug with clear, lukewarm water

  • Add the mustard powder to the footbath tub or bowl and stir in a figure-eight motion.
  • The patient sits on a chair while his knees are covered with the terrycloth towel and bathes his feet in the mustard bath for a maximum of 20 minutes. The mustard glycosides irritate the skin and cause a stabbing pain, the skin reddens, which is a positive sign
  • After removing the feet from the bath, the mustard flour must be rinsed off (in the bathtub or with the jug of clear, lukewarm water)
  • Dry the feet, make sure the gaps between the toes are clean

  • Empty the bath water into the toilet – avoid splashing into your eyes!

Well-proven in many patients
1 x daily
Onset of effect
Length of therapy
As long as needed
Avoid eye contact when handling mustard. Sensitive skin types (redheads) may not tolerate mustard applications, possibly shorten the application time, possibly use ginger instead

Instructions to download

Case example

Example case 1: Sinusitis
An approx. 60-year-old female patient with a rather delicate constitution and light hair has sinusitis frontalis with yellowish mucus, her breathing is severely impaired, headaches press into her forehead. A mustard powder footbath is administered, reaching just above her ankles, with her knees covered with a wide woolen cloth. After a few minutes, her breathing becomes freer and her headache subsides. The intensity of perception seems to shift from the forehead area to her lower body. After about 7 minutes this process threatens to reverse, which is why the footbath is stopped. The patient knows from experience that by exceeding the application time the liberating process is reversed: her nose swells up again.
After the bath a pleasant warmth is generated, which runs through her organism from her head to her feet.

Example case 2: Migraine
A 45-year-old woman suffered so badly from migraine that she had at least one attack a week and was therefore severely affected in her social contacts and at work. She was very sensitive to light and had auras.
She was then given a 15-minute mustard footbath daily in the morning for 6 weeks at the beginning, and later twice a week. After 10 applications, the improvement was so clear that the pain medication could be reduced.
The patient stated that the footbaths worked better than any previous treatment. The attacks occurred much less frequently (about once a month) and as soon as she notices signs of them, she takes a footbath and thus has these complaints under control. She is very pleased, as her family had previously suffered from her condition; she can once again cultivate her social contacts and now she is no longer absent from work.


Red., WS


  • Doering Th J, et al. Pilot-Senffussbad-Studie unter besonderer Berücksichtigung der zerebralen Blutflussgeschwindigkeit. Complementary Medicine Research 5.6 (1998): 279–282.