Cumin is a common feature in most spice cabinets, since it is used in many types of cuisine, including Indian, Mexican, North African and Iranian. Indian readers may know this spice by its Hindi name, Jeera. We typically speak of cumin seeds, although in fact they are tiny fruits.
But did you know that this humble resident of your kitchen contains an amazing substance, cuminaldehyde, which is antimicrobial, anti-diabetic, cancer-preventative, antioxidant and a fantastic digestive aid? Cumin is also a great source of iron and calcium. For ground cumin, it's always best to grind cumin fresh in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle to get the full potency. For roasted cumin, roast carefully in a pan on low heat, removing when warmed, not browned, to prevent the escape of medicinal volatile compounds.
So aside from its value as a spice, cumin has many uses as a home remedy. Here's a list of cumin home remedies and recipes.
CCF Tea: At Alandi we encourage our students and patients to drink CCF tea. Mix one-third teaspoon each of cumin, coriander and fennel 'seeds' in a cup of water, boil until the seeds sink and strain. Drink after meals to aid digestion or to relieve colic. This tea is also a great way to help get adequate iron and calcium in your diet. You can also use this tea to bring down a fever.
Cumin tea: Mix one teaspoon of cumin, 'seeds', in a pot of water, boil until the seeds sink and strain. This tea can be drunk to relieve colic and indigestion. (Not for pitta, they should use CCF tea instead).
Cumin Cilantro tea: For Indigestion, acid reflux, heartburn, make tea with a teaspoon of cumin seeds per cup of water, steeping until the seeds sink. Add a pinch of salt and a teaspoon of cilantro juice. Take twice daily after meals. (OK for pitta because of the cilantro.)
Cumin Ginger tea for colds: Make cumin tea as above, but adding a slice of fresh ginger. Drink regularly to ease a common cold.
Cumin Nutmeg tea: Make cumin tea and above, adding a pinch of nutmeg. Drink to relieve nausea or upset stomach.
Vrinda Madhava for indigestion, acid reflux and heartburn: Mix1 tsp. ghee with half teaspoon each of ground cumin and coriander, forming a paste-like consistency. Eat daily for indigestion, acid reflux, heartburn, peptic ulcer, nausea, vomiting, or poor appetite. You can mix it in your rice or spread on toast.
Honeyed Cumin for Colic: Mix ground cumin in honey to reduce intestinal cramping, colic pain and diarrhea. Take a teaspoonful with meals as preventative or when needed.
Cumin Recipe for Stomach Pain: Mix one-third teaspoon of cumin with a pinch of hing (asafetida) and a pinch of Himalayan or Utah salt. Chew well and follow with warm water, to relieve stomach pain.
Pomegranate Cumin for IBS: Mix pomegranate juice with lightly roasted cumin, ground, to relieve symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.
Cumin Ginger Lassi for indigestion or haemorrhoids: Roast a teaspoon of cumin seed, grind. Add a quarter inch slice of fresh ginger, two tablespoons of live yoghurt and a cup of pure water and puree in a blender. Drink this regularly to soothe inflamed intestines and hemorrhoids. (You can also substitute kefir in place of yoghurt).
Cumin Nutmeg Lassi for malabsorption: Roast a teaspoon of cumin seed, grind. Add two pinches of nutmeg, two tablespoons of live yoghurt and a cup of pure water and mix in a blender. Drink mid-morning and after lunch and dinner for malabsorption. (You can also substitute kefir in place of yoghurt).
Morning sickness: Mix half tsp. ground cumin in a teaspoon of lime juice and take to relieve morning sickness.
Lactation Aid: A tea made by boiling ground cumin can be taken regularly by lactating women to increase breast milk production.
Cumin for Menstrual Cramps: Chew one teaspoon lightly-roasted cumin seeds and follow with a tablespoon of aloe vera, to relieve menstrual cramps.
Cumin Douche for Vaginal Yeast Infections: Steep 1 tsp. cumin seeds and one teaspoon licorice root in a pint of boiling water for ten minutes, Strain well, add a teaspoon of ghee, cool to body temperature and use a a douche.
Cumin Nasya: Strong cumin tea mixed with some vinegar can be used as nasya to stop nasal drip and nosebleeds.
Skin Aid: Mix ground cumin seeds in water to a paste. Apply to skin lesions, boils, and itchy patches. It reduces superficial inflammation and pain.
Scorpion Salve: For stings from the less dangerous scorpion species, ground cumin is mixed with salt, honey, and ghee. This is applied to the sting and held in place by a bandage. This will reduce pain and secondary infection during the recovery process.
Cumin Gargle: Make strong cumin tea, add a pinch of cardamom and cool. Gargle with this to keep the mouth fresh and promote healing of oral issues.
Cumin Gum Rub: Lightly roast a tablespoon of cumin in a pan without oil.
Grind this to a fine powder by mortar and pestle or a clean coffee grinder. Mix in a quarter teaspoon of salt. Massage gums with this powder to strengthen gums and prevent gingivitis.
Compiled from various sources including Alandi Pharmacy Manual, Ayurvedic Cooking for Self-Healing by Usha and Vasant Lad and Passion for Healing Naturopathic.
Alakananda Ma is an Ayurvedic Doctor (NAMA) and graduate of a top London medical school. She is co-founder of Alandi Ayurveda Clinic and Alandi Ayurveda Gurukula in Boulder Colorado, as well as a spiritual mother, teacher, flower essence maker and storyteller. Alakananda is a well known and highly respected practitioner in the Ayurveda community both nationally and internationally.