Cumin Magic (Cuminum cyminum)

    Posted by: "Shirish Bhate" shirishbhate

    Date: Mon Dec 11, 2006 11:24 am ((PST))

 If you leave out cumin, you leave out magic spice. Why author calls it magic spice will be clear when you  each the end of this article. 

The spices in Indian kitchen are very useful as Ayurvedic remedies.  Not only health but even beauty. All   moms should know the uses. Let  us take one spice out of them for discussion today. 

Cumin seeds is slight pungent, appetizer, digestive aid, easy for  digestion, slightly warming but cooling to  yes, increases saliva,  causing better taste and most important for women as well as post  natal moms, it  purifies uterus for women and genito-urinary track in  men. Though has strong spice aroma, it tastes slightly bitter. It  pacifies pitta, and its vipaka, i.e. effect after digestion is slightly unusual. It pacifies vata also. Though a thermogenic speci,  means it causes heating in the body, it pacifies pitta when taken as a heem: 

Culinary use of cumin is extensively discussed at the link where you may find recipes for Garam masala, sambahar powder etc. Here we are more concerned with its medical uses for postnatal moms  and babies. 

It improves both absorption and assimilation thus enhancing  digestion. It is a "queen" ama burner. ama  beans build up of toxins.  It is the accumulation of ama that causes doshic imbalances in body.  Cumin, when boiled or steeped in water, flushes toxins giving rise to glowing and radiant complexion. Spices such as cumin, fennel and turmeric purify the urine daily. If your diet does not contain at least one of them, ama buildup causes dosha imbalance.

 After a heavy meal of difficult to digest items, it tries to reduce gas and flatulence caused by indigestion. Hence Indian moms use it as a sautéing spice in curries. It also finds place in spices where sautéing is not carried out. If you go to Indian hotel enjoy Panipuri, Bhelpuri and you will experience the aroma of cumin.  The sister spice for cumin is coriander seeds. When taken together both guard stomach health. The advantages of using cumin, asafoetida, mustard and fenugreek in sautéing has now been recognized in foreign countries too! Even middle east restaurants use these spices in mouth watering dishes. And first entry of foreigners in India was motivated by spices commerce. 

While commonly available cumin is light in color, another variety is black in color, termed "shahi jeera" in Hindi (Bunium persicum) and often kala jeera due to its black color. You can see photograph and names in other languages at:

 Author remembers how a paste made from this "kala jeera" was used to be applied on cheeks when children suffered from mumps. The inflammation vanished in just a day and swelling in 2-3 days.Whichever variety of cumin you use, it is warming, increases digestive fire, causing excitation in body and also it is a galactagogue. It is useful in postnatal period. Vaidyas of Maharashtra make "Jirakdyarishta" from cumin and give 2 tsp to postnatal mom after every meal. This causes loss of fat, purification of uterus tone and also aids profuse lactation. This variety of cumin is diuretic, appetizer, helps secretion of digestive juices and reduces vatic disorders of digestion.  If there is a colic in  babies, Vaidyas and Indian moms use a mixture of ajwain, cumin, fennel  and dill weed tea. Now the gripe water takes its place since it is readily available. The herbal tea used to take care of stomach pain, indigestion, loose motions as well as dysentery. The Unani vaidyas use the strong decoction of these three herbs even today. In villages and tribal regions, the women use the herbal tea for babies even today. When spices are boiled in water, water itself becomes more sharp and reaches cells faster. Once the cells are well hydrated, Vata (dehydration) gets pacified, constipation, gas relief occurs. This author was surprised to see absence of cumin herb in the file "baby colic" in this group. 

In cities, Saindhav salt, cumin, asafoetida mixture is used to reduce pain caused by bloating of stomach. Cumin is a good spice for even pregnant mom. It is a good home remedy as appetizer. Ayurvedic medicines Chitrakadi Vati and Hingvashtak Churna have cumin as important ingredient. One magical property of cumin is it keeps the digestive agni in balance. Those with low fire will experience increased fire as well as digestive juices, while those with excess fire experience cooling of the fire. For those with impulsive anger, "Jal-jira" a water in which cumin is soaked for minimum 2 hours is a tasty appetizer and cooling drink. This drink, is added to Puri, which makes Pani-puri. If you come to India and do not taste Panipuri, it is as good as going to Paris and not seeing Eiffel tower. This Jaljeera you can make in U.S.A. also. Saindhav salt, black salt, lemon juice or tamarind extract after soaking is added in water along with a little chili powder and sugar to make a very tasty and appetizer drink. Instead of coco cola, this will be healthier drink. Amongst various appetizer soups, author rates this has highest power appetizer within easy reach of poor too. However, ready spice mixture for Jaljeera contains citric acid, and hence not recommended, except in emergency.  The tartaric acid of tamarind works better than chemical citric acid in appetizer action. When this tartaric acid mixes with fructose in dates, the taste produced is so good that Bhelpuri and its variants are very popular in India.  

Another well known formulation from Cumin is Jeeragoli, made from jaggary, tamarind and other sour herbs. Cumin is very useful herb added in various Ayurvedic medicines. Jirakadi modak is a sweet item produced from it. These are given to postnatal mom so that her reproductive system as well as digestive system return to normalcy. From children to elderly, everyone benefits from cumin. If cough, cold or flue just started, give green gram water adding cumin while cooking it. Inflammation of urine, fever, cough, sinus pains, loose motions, dysentery, anorexia, piles, everywhere cumin comes useful.

By reducing the heat of reproductive system it helps in leucorrhea.  Unani vaidyas have made medicines using cumin for bloating.   

When you take cumin, warm it a little to increase its potency. It will help in Chronic indigestion. When making various spice mixtures for non vegetarian items, Indian women use black cumin. Even black variety is a magic cure as uterine tonic, vata, constipation, IBS, and kills worms harboring in the intestines.   Mixing cumin, fennel and slight roasting them makes a post meal digestive aid. When curry is made from beans which are difficult to digest, by sautéing them with a little oil, cumin, mustard, fenugreek and asafoetida makes it more easily digestible, and no worry of indigestion, bloating or flatulence. In most spice mixtures, if cumin is forgotten, spice becomes bland. Like all pungent items, cumin reaches the cells very fast. When mixed with jaggary, it s appetizer quality enhances.  

When pregnancy causes nausea and vomits, the cumin powder is given mixed with lemon juice. When children are suffering from fever of any kind, give green gram water in which cumin seeds are also boiled.

 Author has used the cumin in cases of Irritation bowels syndrome with buttermilk: 

When used with dates it causes cooling of the body, and takes care of burning feet: 

One boy aged 7 years was given Ayurvedic tablets to take care of parasites and thread worms. For 3 days he could take tablets without any problem. on 5th day, when worms became irritated and caused stomach pain, the slightly roasted cumin seeds, black salt and turmeric were administered in honey and bloating+pain vanished in an hour. From next day, the worms started appearing in stools. Thereafter the worm tablets were continued without any problems. Indian Vaidyas give worm medicines for a month or so since not only worms but their eggs and baby worms also need to be taken care, which becomes possible only by slow but steady winning the race.

The magic of cumin seeds will be realized only when worrying due to children are suffering from indigestion, bloating, fever.