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The Caruso Homeopathy Blog

The Medicinal Properties of Cumin Seeds

 

By Heather Caruso, BSc, Hom, ROHP

     The spice cumin has a peppery citrus type of flavor and is often used in Middle Eastern, Indian and Mexican dishes. Cumin belongs to the Umbelliferae plant family and is native to Egypt. It has a place as both a culinary and medicinal herb. It is mentioned in the bible as a treasure for seasoning and to tithe to local priests which reminds me of my farming patients who have brought me chickens for services rendered. In ancient times, Egyptian pharaohs were mummified with cumin.

     Cumin contains vitamin A, C, E, B6, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin and minerals like iron, manganese, copper, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium. It is a source of protein and amino acids, carbohydrates, dietary fiber, and contains a good amount of fatty acids.

     The health benefits of cumin are many. One great thing cumin does is it is thought to increase the secretion of pancreatic enzymes which help digestion and absorption of nutrients. (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308814608002483) It is also thought to help with constipation due to its fiber content, reduce gas and bloating. By aiding in constipation it is useful to prevent hemorrhoids. It helps bile flow from the liver (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3210012/) and has been shown to help with IBS symptoms in a study of 57 people after two short weeks. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24829694)

     Cumin is thought to have anti cancer properties due to its great number of beneficial compounds such as phenols, flavonoids, terpenes and alkaloids. Some of these compounds reduce oxidative damage to cells protecting one from free radical damage. In one study cumin was shown to prevent lab animals from developing stomach or liver tumors. It has potent free radical scavenging abilities and activates the livers detoxification enzymes.

     Cumin has been thought to help with weight gain and diabetic complications. One study found that a group of 78 participants taking a placebo, cumin or orlistat (a weight loss drug) had the same amount of weight loss in the herb group as they did using orlistat, without side effects. The cumin group had a beneficial affect on insulin production. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25766448) Several studies find that cumin aids in blood sugar control, weight loss and digestion.

     This herb has anti fungal and anti bacterial properties. A compound found in cumin called megalomycin acts as an antibiotic. In one animal study cumin also helped break opiod addictive patterns in rats. It is also thought to be of benefit in asthma and lung infections because it clears mucous from the respiratory tract and acts as an anti-inflammatory.

     There are no safety concerns with the use of cumin. To bring out the fragrance and flavor of cumin, roast the seeds in the over, on a tray at 300 degrees or in a skillet for a few minutes on low heat. Then grind or add them whole to dishes. Some people make a cumin tea, by boiling 2 teaspoons of seeds in 2 cups of water and allowing them to steep for 10 minutes. Cumin would be best used for its aromatic flavors in Middle Eastern or Mexican dishes