Cumin is a popular ingredient in Ayurvedic medicine. Similar to jaiphal, cumin is a spice that is common around the world for its use in many recipes and food preparation ideas. In Ayurveda cumin is balancing for all three doshas. It is said to aid digestion and help your body rid itself of toxins. As with many aspects of Ayurveda, cumin can be consumed in what you would normally eat. You just carefully plan your daily or weekly food choices and you get a dose of cumin.
Cumin Heath Benefits
Cumin has a lot of reported health benefits. The main symptoms that people have reported seeing a reduction in after using this spice include digestive issues, insomnia, respiratory disorders, mild viruses (including the common cold) and mild skin disorders. The health benefits of cumin can often be felt merely through the frequent use of this spice in recipes, though it can also be taken as a supplement.
Cumin Seed benefits have been noted in Ayurvedic medicine for some time now, and while there is not a lot of formal research to both back the reported benefits and clearly describe any side effects or cautions, we can list certain cumin health benefits that have been reported for a long time:
Cumin health benefits and digestion
Cumin has a distinct smell, generated by a chemical called Cuminaldehyde. This, in combination with another compound called thymol, may stimulate salivation, bile production, and the release of certain enzymes that help with healthy digestion. This may improve appetite, reduce gas, and reduce the chances of nausea.
Cumin and insomnia reduction
Cumin is a relaxant, and some have reported that it can help promote restful sleep. The mechanism of action behind this health benefit of cumin is not completely clear, but it has been reported that the essential oil in cumin relieves stress and anxiety, and that in turn relieves insomnia. The herb may also have a more direct effect as well.
Cumin and mild respiratory issues
Cumin works to loosen and reduce phlegm which itself can reduce the symptoms of mild respiratory issues. This spice can also inhibit the production of more of these problematic substances, keeping you breathing freely. Also, the fact that cumin contains caffeine has been said to positively affect respiration.
Mild viruses and cumin health benefits
The essential oils in cumin have been known to be a disinfectants. This in turn may help it fight the common cold. And as noted above this spice dries up mucus and helps expel phlegm. Cumin also has antioxidants that have been reported to boost the immune system so it may both prevent and help fight mild infections.
Concentration and Cumin Health Benefits
This mechanism of action is a little harder to nail down. What is likely is that this spice is able to improve and stabilize the amount of iron in the bloodstream, and that in turn improves brain function including concentration. This is one of the health benefits of cumin that likely will take longer and require repeated and regular use of this spice. Cumin health benefits may also include improvements in memory as well, given this mechanism of action.
Cumin Benefits for the Skin
This one is a bit more straightforward. This spice has a lot of vitamin E, and vitamin E is great for your skin. Vitamin E has been said to improve skin tone, reduce the look of mild blemishes, and prevent some blemishes from occurring. Cumin health benefits, therefore, include helping clear your skin. It is said that in addition to the Vitamin E, cumin also has some antibacterial properties which also help clear the skin, in this case of harmful bacterias.
Cumin and Immune System Support
The great antioxidants and minerals present in cumin, most notably iron, vitamin C, and vitamin-A, may help improve immune system functioning, giving it a boost. Vitamin C, for example, is well known as an immune system booster. The free radicals that these ingredients fight have been linked to many health issues.
Health Benefits of Cumin Cautions
While cumin health benefits have been reported for years, there are also some cautions that should be noted. It is important to keep in mind that since there have been no standardized explorations of the health benefits of cumin seeds, there may be side effects or interaction effects that we do not know. Please share you own experience with the health benefits of cumin and the side effects (if any) you experiences below. Also make sure you talk to your doctor before beginning to take cumin for health benefits, particularly if you are experiencing symptoms that are new, or you have a pre-existing condition.
The cautions that have been reported revolve around the fact that cumin may lower blood sugar. Therefore, if you are taking medications that lower blood sugar you may find that cumin leads to blood sugar levels that are too low. In addition, if you have a condition that already leads to low blood sugar you need to be particularly cautious before trying to get other health benefits of cumin.
Cumin Benefits and Dose
Cumin, like jaiphal (nutmeg) is versatile in how it can be prepared and used in food from an Ayurvedic approach. Whole seeds can be used, or they can be ground. You can use cumin in Ayurveda as a raw ingredient, or you can roast the seeds first. The spice is quite aromatic no matter how it is prepared.
Cumin for use in recipes and in Ayurveda is of course often combined with other spices. It goes quite well with spices such as turmeric, fennel, and ginger, and can be particularly good as an ingredient in salad dressing or vegetable topping. That said, it can also be used by itself as a topping on yogurt or as an ingredient in soup.
All of that said it is not clear exactly what the dose of cumin should be to get the health benefits listed above. Our suggestion is to start with a low dose since many people experience positive effects from certain Ayurvedic medicine even at low doses. If this happens to you you will save money and reduce your chances of side effects by not having to take as much cumin seeds for health benefits.
A wonderful Ayervedic spice, cumin health benefits include the power to flush toxins from your body while also contributing to the flavor profile of some of your favorite recipes. Cumin is of course easy to obtain, but you’ll have to choose whether you want it already processed in powdered form, or whether you want to buy the whole seeds and prepare it yourself. You’ll also have to decide whether you want to start with raw cumin, or look for dry roasted cumin for your recipe.
Other resources are available about this wonderful spice and its health benefits, including:
- LiveStrong explores the health benefits of this spice, including some benefits we do not cover here.
- WebMD has a page about this powerful spice, and concentrates particularly on warnings and interaction effects
- HealthDiaries has a nice clear and concise page about 6 top health benefits of cumin
Best of luck if you decide that the health benefits of cumin are worth pursuing through a slight change in your diet and the purposeful use of this spice in recipes. Let us know about any cumin health benefits you experience!