Cumin

Scientific names: Cuminum cyminun, Cuminum odorum

Common names: Cumin is also known as cummin.

Efficacy-safety rating:

Ò...Little or no evidence of efficacy.

Safety rating:

...No safety concerns despite wide use.

What is Cumin?

This small annual plant is native to the Mediterranean region, where it is cultivated extensively. The cumin seed widely is used in cooking. The dried seeds resemble those of caraway, but are straighter in form and have a coarser taste and odor. Major cumin seed producers include Egypt, Iran, India, and Morocco. The United States is among the largest producers of cumin oil. This spice should not be confused with sweet cumin, which is a common name for anise (Pimpinella anisum). Black cumin (Bunium persicum) has smaller and sweeter seeds than C. cyminum, but is not commercially important. Another black cumin (Nigella sativa) is not related to cumin.

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What is it used for?

Traditional/Ethnobotanical uses

Traditional uses of cumin include to reduce inflammation, increase urination, prevent gas, and suppress muscle spasms. It has also been used as an aid for indigestion, jaundice, diarrhea, and flatulence. Cumin powder has been used as a poultice and suppository, and has been smoked in a pipe and taken orally.

Cumin is a major component of curry and chili powders and has been used to flavor a variety of commercial food products. The oil, which is derived by steam distillation, is used to flavor alcoholic beverages, desserts, and condiments. It is also used as a fragrant component of creams, lotions, and perfumes.

General uses

Cumin seeds are used in cooking and the oil is used to flavor food and scent cosmetics. Components may have antioxidant, anticancer, antibacterial, and larvicidal effects. Cumin may lower blood sugar, reduce seizures, strengthen bones, and treat the eye; however, there is no clinical evidence to support these claims. Cumin is generally recognized as safe for human consumption as a spice and flavoring.

What is the recommended dosage?

There are no recent clinical studies of cumin that provide a basis for dosage recommendations.

How safe is it?

Contraindications

Contraindications have not yet been identified.

Pregnancy/nursing

Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking.

Interactions

None well documented.

Side Effects

The oil may sensitize skin to light. Cumin may also cause low blood sugar.

Toxicities

No data are available.

References

  1. Cumin. Review of Natural Products. Facts & Comparisons [database online]. St. Louis, MO: Wolters Kluwer Health Inc; September 2010.

Copyright © 2009 Wolters Kluwer Health

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