Cumin has been grown and used as a spice since ancient times. Originally cultivated in Iran and Mediterranean region, Cumin is mentioned in the Bible in both the Old Testament Isaiah 28:27 and in the New Testament Matthew 23:23. It was also known in ancient Greece and Rome. The Greeks kept Cumin at the dining table in its own container- much as pepper is frequently kept today-and this practice continues in Morocco. It is now mostly grown in Iran, Morocco and Egypt, India, Syria, North America and Chile.
In English it is known as Cumin seed, in hindi Jira, Sadajira, in sanskrit Name Ajaji, Jiraka. In Marathi Pandhre jire in gujarati Jiru, in tamil Chirakam in kanar Jirage. Its latin name is Cuminum cyminum and Family is Umbellifereae Fruis are cremocarp often separated into mericarps, brown with light colored ridges, ellipsoidal, elongated, about 4-6 mm long, 2mm wide, tapering at ends and slightly compressed laterally. Taste is richly spicy.
The fruit contains 2.5 -4%essential oil. In essential oil Cumin aldehyde, Perilla aldehyde, Cumin alcohol, Dipentene & p-Cymene were found. In toasted Cumin fruits, a large number of Pyrazines has been identified as flavour compounds. Various alkyl derivatives like di-methyl pyrazine. Also a Sulphur compound was found.
The oil shows, in varying degree, anti-microbial and anti-fungal activity, at different concentrations and also in combinations with other essential oils. The constituents of essential oil are known to possess carminative properties.
Traditional uses: Cumin seeds are used as a spice in cooking. They are medicinally used in hoarseness of voice, dyspepsia and diarrhoea. Seed powder reduces itching and pain in skin disorders. Clinically, it has been tried out in Jaundice and also used as galactologogue. In debility due to fever, it improves appetite and energy.
Cumin is used as warming oil and helps in relieving muscular pains and osteo-arthritis.
In the digestive system, it is a stimulant and helps in colic, dyspepsia, flatulence and indigestion. For the nervous system, it is a tonic and has a beneficial effect on head-aches, migraine and Nervous exhaustion.
Dayanand Ayurvedic College