Cumin - Herb for Many Health Problems


Cuminum cyminum Apiaceae.

Native to Egypt and Asia, cumin is a herbaceous annual that grows to a height if about 30cm, its slender stem divided into long, slim secondary stalks. Narrow, ridged seedpods, about 5mm long, contain the cumin seeds.

Parts used

  • Seeds
  • Cultivated in India and the Near East, the seedpods appear in summer and are gathered by hand.
  • The seeds are used, whole or ground, in infusions. Its essential oil is colourless or pale yellow with a characteristic musky smell and a bitter, aromatic taste.
  • In addition to its medicinal uses, cumin is an ingredient in many renowned spice mixtures, including Madras curry and ras-el-hanouta combination of Moroccan spices.


The essential oil constitutes 2 to 5 per cent of the seed and contains around 40 per cent cuminaldehyde. Cumin also contains flavonoids, which are beneficial in treating minor circulatory disorders and also possess anti-inflammatory properties.

Medicinal uses

Used internally, cumin is considered to be highly effective in the treatment of indigestion, bloating and stomach infections. It can help to relieve flatulence and to relax the intestine. Research performed in India in 1999 validated the use of cumin as a food preservative, disinfectant and astringent by demonstrating its action against various types of bacteria.

Cumin is available as an essential oil for external use and it is a constituent of various medicinal products that are used for massaging painful joints.

In 1989 Danish scientists found that cumin extracts inhibited platelet aggregation and the generation of inflammatory mediators. These findings suggest that cumin might be beneficial in the treatment of thrombosis and inflammation. Cumin is sometimes prescribed for breast engorgement during breastfeeding. It can also stimulate menstruation and lactation. In addition, cumin is reputed to have aphrodisiac properties.


For internal use

TO TREAT indigestion, flatulence, intestinal infections INFUSION Put a teaspoon of seeds into 250ml of boiling water and infuse for 2-3 minutes. Alternatively, use 1-2g of ground seeds and infuse for 10-15 minutes in a cup of boiling water. Strain and drink half a cup before meals.

For external use:

TO TREAT painful joints GELS, OINTMENTS Rub in slowly once or twice a day as directed.



In spring scatter seeds in a welldrained sunny spot. Harvest the seeds at the end of summer. They can be ground up or used whole.


Large doses of the essential oil have proved to be harmful and have caused nervous tension.

The essential oil is for external use only and should not be used during pregnancy.

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