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DISCLAIMER: These pages are presented solely as a source of INFORMATION and ENTERTAINMENT and to provide stern warnings against use where appropriate. No claims are made for the efficacy of any herb nor for any historical herbal treatment. In no way can the information provided here take the place of the standard, legal, medical practice of any country. Additionally, some of these plants are extremely toxic and should be used only by licensed professionals who have the means to process them properly into appropriate pharmaceuticals. One final note: many plants were used for a wide range of illnesses in the past, but be aware that many of the historical uses have proven to be ineffective for the problems to which they were applied.



CUMIN
UMBELLIFERAE
aka Comino, Jeera
(Cuminum cyminum syn Cuminum odorum)
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AVOID IF PREGNANT

FYI Pungent, aromatic, slender, annual herb growing to 1 foot high by 6 inches wide which is native to Egypt's Nile region. FLOWERS are tiny and white, although sometimes slightly pink, appearing in sparse umbels in June and July. LEAVES are thin and divided. FRUITS are narrow, about 1/3 inch long, hairy and 7-ribbed. Grown as a crop in North Africa, Iran, Malta, India and China. There are 2 types: white (safed) and black (kala).

One of the oldest known herbs to have been cultivated. Seeds have been found in early tombs of the Egyptian pharoahs. The Romans once ground the seeds and used them on their food much as black pepper is used today. Cumin was part of the tithe (along with dill and other herbs) mentioned in the Bible. For culinary purposes cumin has been much replaced by the milder caraway which has a similar taste.

Astrologically ruled by Mars and Taurus §
CONTAINS: Essential oil (includes aldehydes, pinenes), fatty oil, pentosan, cymol, cymeme, cuminic aldehyde, tannic acid, thymol, mucilage.
SEED OIL contains: 22.3% linoleic acid, 58.5% oleic acid, 6.8% palmatic acid, 3.7% stearic acid; potassium, sulfur, manganese, chlorine, silicon.
PROPAGATION By SEED in spring; in northern climates may need to be started inside 4 to 6 weeks before planting out (3 to 4 inches apart) in well-drained average soil in full sun. Germinates in 10 to 14 days at soil temp of 70ºF.
NEEDS Grown as a crop in well-drained soil in full sun. Needs a long, hot, sunny summer.
HARVEST RIPE SEEDS, then store whole; when seeds are ripe cut whole plant and bring inside; place heads downward in a paper bag with holes punched in the sides and suspend bag from rafters in an airy place until seeds are dry.
PART USED Whole or ground dried seeds; Distilled oil
FORM Tea/infusion, liniment, fomentation.
USES
MEDICINAL:
Aromatic, astringent, carminative, anti-flatulent, antispasmodic, sexual stimulant; affects liver and spleen. Oil is antibacterial, antiviral, larvicidal, spicy, warm.
Considered an assisting herb in Ayurvedic medicine and has been used to improve liver function.
The tea/infusion (often combined with other digestive herbs) has been used for minor digestive upsets, abdominal spasms, migraine (associated with digestive upsets), and diarrhea. Commonly cooked with beans and fried food to prevent gas. The tea/infusion (or 2 to 3 drops of the oil on a sugar cube) has also been used to treat nervous irritability.
In Chinese Traditional Medicine it is considered a stimulant and antispasmodic and believed to benefit the heart and uterus. It has been given to women who have just given birth to increase breast milk (galactogogue). It has also been used externally in liniments to stimulate circulation thus bringing warmth to the affected area of aching muscles and joints (also: the leaves have been crushed and rubbed into the painful area). A fomentation has been used to treat painful bruises and injuries. Has also been used as part of the daily diet to combat pain and swelling due to carpal tunnel syndrome.
Essential oil from the seeds contains anticancer potential (research continues). Other research indicates that cumin might help to inhibit formation of blood clots.
Cumin has been reported to increase mammary cells in laboratory animals and has been used in 'bust enlarging' formulas available commercially.

DOSE: TRADITIONAL DOSAGES FOR PROFESSIONAL NOTE ONLY
!All others buy commercial preparations and follow directions carefully!
GRAINS = 15 to 30
GRAMS = 3 to 9
LINIMENT = 1 oz crushed cumin seeds combined with 6 oz of rubbing alcohol in a glass jar with lid; allow to set for 2 weeks, shaking daily; label for 'external use only!'.

CULINARY:
A popular ingredient of spice mixtures, particularly curry.
A common ingredient of Mexican cooking.
In Middle Eastern cuisine the seeds are roasted and added to lamb and cucumber/yogurt dishes. The seeds are also added to flour and baked into bread.
Used in Holland to flavor cheese.
Used to flavor chutneys and pickles.
CURRY POWDER = (There are many variations of curry powder; this is just one) Combine 1 oz each of cumin, coriander, and tumeric; 1/2 oz each of ginger, dried chili pepper, whole black mustard seed, fennel seed. Grind in an herb or coffee mill. Store in a glass jar. The longer it sits, the more 'mingled' the various flavors will be. A traditional way to use the mixture is to simmer the spices lightly in a small amount of cooking oil before adding to the food, or else making a paste of the spices with water or oil.
The oil is used commercially to flavor baked goods, meat sauces, pickles, cheeses, and liqueurs.
OTHER:
Cumin oil is used in commercial perfumery, namely in very small amounts in Oriental types of fragrance products.
In Earth religions, cumin is added to amulets and charms for protection, good luck, and prosperity. It is also added to herbal formulas to ensure sexual vigor.
Was once believed to keep lovers from being fickle and poultry from straying.

©2001 & 2006 by Ernestina Parziale, CH

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