Cuminum Cyminum

Cumin (scientific name Cuminum cyminum) is a flowering plant belonging to the family Apiaceae. This herb is indigenous to a vast region extending from east of the Mediterranean to India.

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The seeds of cumin have been used since the prehistoric times. In fact, available documents show that cumin seeds excavated at Tell ed-Der in Syria have been dated to the second millennium B.C. It has also been found in many New Kingdom levels in the ancient archaeological sites in Egypt. In ancient Egypt, people used cumin both in the form of a spice and also to preserve their mummies.

Cumin was first cultivated in the Mediterranean region and Iran. The Old Testament as well as the New Testament of the Bible have reference to cumin. In ancient times, Greeks kept cumin in a separate container on their dining table (like we often keep pepper these days). People in Morocco continue this practice even to this day. Ancient Romans also extensively used cumin in their cuisine. For several millennia, people in India have been traditionally using cumin as an ingredient in numerous masalas, kormas and soups. Even today, cumin forms the basis of several different spice blends in the Indian sub-continent.

The Portuguese and Spanish colonists introduced cumin to North and South Americas. While many different varieties of cumin are available today, the green and black varieties are most popular. These are widely used in Persian cuisine.

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At present, cumin is mainly cultivated in Egypt, Iran, Morocco, Syria, Turkey, India, China, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Chile and Mexico. As cumin often forms a part of birdseed and is exported to various countries, you may find the plant growing in several territories in the form of a rare casual. For instance, the British Isles, mostly in Southern England, you can find cumin as a rare casual. Nevertheless, these days the frequency of the plant's occurrence has declined significantly.

A very delicate annual plant, Cuminum cyminum has a thin and weak stem, while the leaves are segregated into many slender strips. Cumin flowers are tiny whose color varies from white to pinkish purple. Cumin flowers give way to a seed fruit having narrow grooves and these are used in the form of a spice. In fact, the cumin seed fruits are the only part of the plant that is used.

People in the East mainly used cumin as a spice and traditionally this spice formed a major ingredient in curries. In the ancient Indian herbal medicine system, Ayurveda, cumin has been employed in the form of a common stimulant that helps in alleviating digestive disorders, dyspepsia, and colic. In addition, cumin also helps to make convalescing patients stronger. Aside from the above mentioned uses, cumin is also employed in perfumes.

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Cumin seeds yield an essential oil. To obtain this oil, cumin seeds are dried out and crushed before being steam distilled. In fact, cumin is a very popular spice worldwide and, hence, it does not require much introduction. Nevertheless, most people are still unaware about cumin essential oil and the health benefits offered by it.

The essential oil of cumin is used for a number of therapeutic purposes, including alleviating pain, calming, promoting digestion and sleep. It is also used to warm the body, enhance circulation, stimulate digestion, offer relief from flatulence, reduce cellulite, cleanse internal systems of the body, lessen stress, mitigate fatigue, revitalize, uplift moods and assist in meditation.

The cumin seed essential oil is effective in the form of warming oil and aids in alleviating muscle aches. It works as a tonic for the digestive system, helping to cure flatulence, bloating, colic and indigestion. This oil is also beneficial for the nervous system, and works as a tonic for the nerves. It helps to provide relief from headaches, migraines as well as nervous fatigue.

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Cumin essential oil is considered to be an excellent bactericide and, hence, it can be used effectively for treating diarrhea and cholera - two diseases attributed to bacteria. In addition, this essential oil may also help in treating internal infections caused by bacteria, for instance infections in the stomach, colon, intestines as well as the urinary tract. The essential oil of cumin is also used topically to treat wounds as well as infections of the eyes, ears and skin.

The essential oil of cumin possesses potent carminative properties and can be effectively used to get rid of gases formed in the intestines. At the same time, this oil helps to avoid formation of gases again.

The oil extracted from cumin seeds is also useful for promoting digestion. However, you need to be careful to use it in low dosages. Using this oil in elevated doses may have a reverse action and make you vomit. Cumin essential oil also encourages secretion of bile and other gastric juices, while stimulating the intestines' peristaltic motion. The aroma of cumin essential oil serves as an appetizer and helps to improve one's appetite.

Cumin essential oil also possesses diuretic property and, hence, its use increases the frequency as well as the quantity of urination. While many may not consider this to be an important attribute, the fact remains that it is extremely beneficial for sound health. When we urinate more frequently and in larger quantities, we also flush out fats, which comprise 4 percent of the urine's volume. Hence, it is clear that the more one urinates, the more fat they lose. At the same time, urination also stimulates digestion and prevents formation of gases in the stomach and intestines. Aside from fat, urination also helps the body to get rid of surplus water, thereby lessening swellings. The most important benefit of urination is that it helps to flush out toxins and other waste substances from the body. In addition, frequent urination also helps to lower high blood pressure. This is one main reason why nearly all drugs meant for treating hypertension (high blood pressure) also promote frequent urination. Frequent urination also cleanses the kidneys.

In addition, cumin oil also possesses antiseptic properties that prevent the internal as well as external wounds from becoming septic.

Aside from the therapeutic properties of cumin essential oil discussed above, it also possesses useful anti-spasmodic attributes. As a result, this oil can be used for treating almost all types of spasms and problems associated with them, for instance, incessant coughing, cramps, pains, and convulsions.

Cumin essential oil is an effective detoxifier. This oil helps the body to get rid of toxins, including the substances that are produced by the body itself, such as metabolic by-products, surplus hormones. It also removes the toxins that enter the blood stream via ingested foods, for instance synthetic colors, uric acid, fertilizers and insecticides. Cumin essential oil also induces sweating and urination, which also helps to get rid of toxins from the body.

Use of the essential oil of cumin helps to ensure that the menstruation cycle is regularized and maintained. In addition, it can also aid in opening obstructed menses. Cumin oil is also useful for recuperation from post menopause syndrome (PMS).

Cumin essential oil is especially helpful because it invigorates the digestive as well as the excretory systems and ensures that they are in sound health and functioning normally.

At the same time, it has been found that cumin essential oil is beneficial for the nerves and aids in curing various problems related to the nerves, such as anxiety, convulsions and stress.

Topical use of cumin essential oil helps to strengthen the muscles as well as tone up the tissues and skin. At the same time, this oil reinforces the functioning of various systems in our body, for instance the nervous, circulatory, digestive, and excretory as well as respiratory systems. The stimulating effect of this essential oil assists in retaining the youthfulness of an individual for a long period.

General properties

  • analgesic
  • antioxidant
  • anti-spasmodic
  • antiseptic
  • antitoxic
  • aperitive
  • aphrodisiac
  • bactericidal
  • cardiac
  • carminative
  • depurative
  • detoxifier
  • digestive
  • diuretic
  • emenagogue
  • larvicidal
  • nervine
  • parasiticide
  • revitalizing
  • sedative
  • stimulant
  • thyroid stimulant
  • tonic

Blends well with

General uses

  • cellulite
  • cholera
  • circulatory problems
  • colic
  • cramps
  • coughs
  • diarrhea
  • dyspepsia
  • fatigue
  • flatulence
  • headaches
  • high blood pressure
  • indigestion
  • menstrual problems
  • migraine
  • mood
  • pain
  • pms
  • stress
  • urinary tract infections
  • wounds


Despite its numerous health benefits, it has been found that the essential oil of cumin results in photo-toxicity when it comes in contact with sunlight. Hence, people should not expose themselves to the sun after using cumin essential oil topically. In addition, cumin essential oil should always be used in very low to mild dosages, as its extremely potent smell may cause headaches and/ or nausea. Women should also avoid using this oil during pregnancy.


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