Botanical Name: Cuminum cyminum
Indian Name: jeera
Origin, Distribution and Composition of Cumin Seeds
Cumin is an annual herb, with a smooth surface and long, slender root It grows up to a height of 35 to 45 cm. It produces a stem with many branches which bear long, finely divided, deep green leaves and small flowers, white or rose in colour. The plant has aromatic seed-like fruit, commonly known as cumin seed. It is oval-shaped, approximately 6 mm long and light yellowish-brown in color. It has a peculiar, strong and heavy odour. The dried seeds form an essential ingredient of curry powder.
Cumin is a native of Egypt , Syria , Turkey and the Eastern Mediterranean region. It was one of the commonest spices during the Middle Ages. It is now grown in south-eastern Europe , north Africa, India and China .
An analysis of cumin seeds shows them to consist of moisture 6.2 per cent, protein 17.7 per cent, fat 23.8 per cent, crude fibre 9.1 per cent, carbohydrates 35.5 per cent and mineral matter 7.7 per cent per 100 grams. Their mineral and vitamin contents are calcium, phosphorus, iron, sodium, potassium, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, vitamins C and A. Their calorific value is 460.
The dried fruit is crushed and subjected to fractional or steam distillation to yield a valuable volatile oil pale-yellow in colour, which turns dark on keeping. The cumin aldehyde present in the volatile oil is readily converted artificially into thymol.
Medicinal uses of cumin
stimulant, carminative, antispasmodic. This herb has similar effects to fennel and caraway but its use has declined due to its disagreeable taste. It had a considerable reputaion in helping correct flatulence due to languid digestion and as a remedy for colic and dyspepsia headache. Applied externally as a plaster, it eased stitches and pains in the side and has been combined with other herbs to form a stimulating liniment.
Healing Power and Curative Properties of Black Cumin Seeds
The fruit is a rich source of thymol. Thymol is used as an anthelmintic against hookworm infections and also as an antiseptic in many proporietary preparations. It is a stimulant, which increases the secretion and discharge of urine and relieves flatulence. It strengthens the functions of stomach and arrests any bleeding.
Cumin seeds are very useful in digestive disorders like biliousness, morning sickness, indigestion, .atonic dyspepsia, diarrhoea, malabsorption syndrome, and flatulent colic. One teaspoon of cumin seeds is boiled in a glass of water and the decoction mixed with one teaspoon of fresh coriander leaf juice and a pinch of salt. This decoction can be taken twice daily after meals as a medicine for diarrhoea.
Black cumin is beneficial in the treatment of piles. About 60 grams of the seeds, of which half should be roasted, should be ground together. Three grams of this flour should be taken with water.
Cumin is valuable in relieving sleeplessness. A teaspoon of the fried powder of cumin seeds mixed with the pulp of a ripe banana can be taken at night to induce sleep.
Black cumin seeds mixed with caraway seeds and black salt is useful in renal colic. About 20 grams of cumin seeds, 12 grams of caraway seeds and 6 grams of black salt are ground together and mixed with a little vinegar. This mixture can be taken in doses of 3 grams every hour till relief is obtained.
Dilute cumin water is an antiseptic beverage and very useful in common cold and fevers. To prepare cumin water, a teaspoon of cumin is added to boiling water, which is allowed to simmer for a few seconds and set aside to cool. If the cold is associated with sore throat, a few small pieces of dry ginger should be added to the water. It soothes throat irritation.
Problem of Breast Milk Secretion
A decotion of cumin seeds mixed with milk and honey, taken once daily during the entire period of pregnancy, helps the healthy development of the foetus, eases child-birth and increases the secretion of breast milk.
Cumin seeds are valuable in amnesia or dullness of memory. Three grams of black cumin seeds are mixed with 12 grams of pure honey and licked to get rid of in this condition.
Black cumin ground in water is applied as a paste over the boils with beneficial results.
Paste of the cumin seeds prepared with onion juice, applied over scorpion sting will retard the frequency of upbeats.
Other Uses and benefits of Cumin Seeds
The cumin seed is extensively used in mixed spices and for flavouring curries, soups, sausages, bread and cakes. It is an ingredient of curry powder, pickles and chutneys. It is also used to some extent in Indian medicine as a carminative.