Botanical: Cuminum cyminum
Family: Umbelliferae (carrot) - Apiaceae (parsley)
Other common names: Cumino, Cumino Aigro, Comino, Jeera, Jiraka, Comino Romano
Cumin is an aromatic, stimulating, bitter and warming herb that has been used to support the digestive system and help to relieve intestinal gas pains, dyspeptic headaches, nausea, colic and flatulence. It is widely used in Ayurvedic medicine in India to relieve indigestion and to improve liver function. Pungent and spicy Cumin is an essential ingredient in curries and is also thought to be a stimulant to the sexual organs, as well as an antispasmodic to relieve abdominal cramps, bloating and distention. Moreover, there is much new research into Cumin's possible use as an antioxidant.
The information presented herein by Herbal Extracts Plus is intended for educational purposes only. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat, or prevent disease. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.
Cumin is a small, herbaceous plant, indigenous to Upper Egypt, but from early times it was cultivated in Arabia, India, China and the Mediterranean region. The plant produces a slender, branched stem that grows to about a foot in height. The deep green leaves are divided into long, narrow, threadlike segments (somewhat like fennel, but smaller) and bear small rose or white flowers, blooming in June and July, which are followed by fruit, or, actually, seeds that are used in herbal medicine. The tender, fragrant annual thrives in light, well-drained soil in a sheltered, sunny site; and the seeds, which resemble caraway seeds, although bristly, may not ripen in colder climates. The use of Cumin as a spice and herbal medicine has a long history. Seeds, excavated at the Syrian site, Tel ed-Der, have been dated to the second millennium B. C., and Cumin seeds were found in the tomb of Tutankhamun. They were also mentioned in The Bible (both Old and New Testaments) and in the herbal/medicinal references of Hippocrates, Pliny and Dioscorides. It was a very popular spice in Europe, particularly in ancient Rome and Greece (where it was placed on dining table in its own container (much as pepper is frequently kept today); and by the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, it was much in use as a pungent culinary spice in England. However, it eventually went out of vogue in Europe (except in Spain), having been replaced by the similar, but more mild and agreeable (to European tastes), caraway seed. Today, however, that warming pungency is appreciated and widely used in Asia (particularly India) and the Middle East, where its rather bitter, aromatic flavor is considered essential in curries and many other spicy Eastern dishes, as well as an important factor in Ayurvedic medicine, where it is used to promote the assimilation of other herbs, correct digestive problems (said to be excellent in cases of flatulence) and to improve liver function. Several kinds of Cumin are recognized in India, the most popular being safed (white) and kala (black), and it is generally imported from Bombay, Calcutta, Morocco, Sicily and Malta, where it is sold as Cumino aigro (hot Cumin) to distinguish it from anise or Cumino dulce (sweet Cumin). In the West, Cumin is widely used in herbal medicine in the same manner as it is employed in the Orient, and it is also widely utilized by veterinarians to treat flatulence in animals. It is an important ingredient in Middle Eastern dishes (couscous) and in the cuisines of Mexico, China and Vietnam, to name a few. It is also used commercially in perfumery, pickling and for flavoring Dutch cheeses, French breads and liqueurs and cordials. Some of the constituents in Cumin include volatile oil (cymol and cuminic aldehyde), fatty oil, resin, mucilage, gum, malates, albumin and tannin.
Cumin has been traditionally used to benefit the digestive system and even improve the taste of other foods.
The herb is said to be an excellent carminative, relieving intestinal gasses in the stomach and intestines, and is thought to be particularly helpful in correcting flatulence caused by languid digestion. It is said to encourage and increase peristalsis (the contraction and relaxation of the walls of the intestinal tract), which, thus, speeds up the elimination of waste. Modern scientific research has begun to bear out Cumin's age-old reputation as an aid to good digestion, claiming that it may stimulate the secretion of pancreatic enzymes, the compounds necessary for proper digestion and nutrient assimilation, and it is interesting to note that in Indian Ayurvedic medicine, Cumin is also employed to promote the assimilation of other herbs. As an herbal digestive aid, Cumin is said to help alleviate colic, indigestion, nausea, dyspeptic headaches and intestinal disorders, such as diarrhea and dysentery. Moreover, it is believed to relieve pain and cramping in the abdomen (also acting as an antispasmodic) and to alleviate abdominal bloating and distention.
Cumin has been used in Ayurvedic medicine to improve liver function, and new research is looking into the herb's ability to enhance the liver's detoxification enzymes, which would not only support liver health, but would also have far-reaching health benefits for its ability to detoxify the body and improve overall well-being.
Cumin is also being studied currently for its possible anti-carcinogenic and andioxidant properties. Antioxidants help to prevent destructive, free radical or oxidative damage to tissues or cells. In one study, Cumin was shown to protect laboratory animals from developing serious stomach problems, and this was thought to be due to Cumin's potent free radical scavenging abilities, in addition to the augmentation of the liver's detoxification enzymes (above). Another study claimed that a phytochemical in Cumin, called limonene, a cyclic monoterpene, may help to regulate cell activity, particularly in the prostate.
As a warming, aromatic herb, Cumin has been used as a stimulant to the sexual organs, and it is also employed in the relief of the temporary discomforts caused by carpal tunnel syndrome.
Currently, there appear to be no warnings or contraindications with the use of Cumin Herbal Supplement.