Cumin is the dried seed of the herb Cuminum cyminum, which is a member of the parsley family. The flowering plant belongs to the family Apiaceae, and it’s native from the east Mediterranean to India. Both whole and ground cumin seeds, which are found within the dried fruit of the plant, are used for cooking in several cultures. It also has many uses as a traditional medicinal plant — particularly because of its ability to cure infections and aid the digestive system.
Cumin seeds are yellow-brown in color, with a flat and rectangular shape. The seeds are used for spice because of their distinctive flavor and aroma. When cumin is added to food, it creates a warm and earthy flavor — making it a staple in certain meat dishes, gravies, stews, soups and chili dishes.
Not only are cumin seeds used for their distinct and spicy flavor, they are also used for medicinal purposes. In Sanskrit, cumin is known as Jira, meaning “that which helps digestion,” and it is one of the most mentioned herbs in the Bible. For good reason, as it’s also believed that cumin is beneficial for heart disease, hemorrhoids, inflammation, insomnia, vomiting, weakened immune system and viral infections.
Cumin Seed Benefits
1. Aids Digestion
Thymol, a compound in cumin, is known to stimulate the glands that secrete acids, bile and enzymes. This stimulation is responsible for the digestion of food in the stomach and intestines.
Hemorrhoids are caused by an increase in pressure on the veins of the anus and rectum, and up to 75 percent of people will experience hemorrhoids at some point in their lives. The pressure on the veins causes swelling, pain and bleeding. One major cause of hemorrhoids is constipation; because cumin seeds are a high-fiber food, they help to naturally treat hemorrhoids by stimulating the digestive system. Cumin seeds also have antifungal and antimicrobial properties, so if there is an infection in the anus, which is a symptom of hemorrhoids, the cumin will help to treat that issue as well.
Cumin helps with digestion by preventing the formation of gas in the gastrointestinal tract. Its carminative properties combat flatulence, which can lead to stomach aches and abdominal pain or pressure.
2. Boosts Immune System
The presence of vitamin C in cumin seeds allows the spice to serve as an immune system booster. Vitamin C is beneficial to individuals whose immune system has been weakened due to stress. Considering that stress has become a common condition in our society, a sufficient intake of vitamin C can serve as an ideal tool for one’s overall health.
By consuming vitamin C foods, you are fighting inflammation, lowering blood pressure, reducing the risk of stroke and heart attack, fighting oxidative stress that leads to cancer, and promoting healthy skin.
3. Treats Respiratory Disorders
Cumin seeds act as an expectorant and anticongestive agent; it aids in the clearance of mucus from the airways, lungs, bronchi and trachea. It also works as a stimulant and disinfectant, so once the mucus is cleared from the airways, cumin seeds can help to heal the initial condition that caused congestion.
Asthma, for example, is a respiratory illness that causes bronchial muscle spasms, swelling of lung lining and increased mucus production — leading to the inability to breathe. It’s generally caused by pollution, obesity, infections, allergies, exercise, stress or hormonal imbalances. By improving bronchial restriction, cumin seeds serve as a natural remedy for asthma.
4. Promotes Skin Health
The presence of vitamin E in cumin seeds acts as an antioxidant. Vitamin E helps to strengthen the capillary walls in the skin. It improves moisture and elasticity, acting as a natural anti-aging nutrient. Studies have shown that vitamin E helps to reduce inflammation both within your body and on the skin, helping to maintain healthy, youthful skin.
These antioxidant properties are also helpful when you are exposed to cigarette smoke or ultraviolet rays from sunlight, protecting against skin cancer. Taking vitamin E with vitamin C fights skin inflammation after exposure to UV radiation and can also be useful in naturally treating signs of eczema and acne. Another vitamin E benefit is that it stimulates the healing process in the skin. Because it speeds up cell regeneration, it can be used to treat scars, acne and wrinkles; this makes your skin look healthier and younger.
Cumin’s antifungal and antibacterial properties can also prevent and treat skin infections.
5. Treats Insomnia
Many adults experience insomnia at some point, but some people have long-term (chronic) insomnia. Some primary causes of insomnia include stress, indigestion, pain and medical conditions.
Fortunately, proper intake of vitamins, particularly B-complex vitamins, and maintaining good digestion are ways to treat insomnia without drugs. Cumin aids digestion, relieving bloating and discomfort, which can make you restless and unable to sleep. Additionally, cumin seeds are known to ease the mind and treat cognitive disorders.
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