Common name: field cumin.
Parts Used: Ripe fruits.
Pharmacy name: cumin fruits – Carvi fructus (formerly: Fructus Carvi), caraway oil – Carvi aetheroleum (formerly: Oleum Carvi).
Botanical description. A biennial plant with a taproot in the form of a spindle or turnip and an upright furrowed branched stem. The leaves are double-pinnate, bright green in color, the leaflets are pinnately dissected, their segments are linearly pointed. The inflorescence is a complex umbel without involucres and involucres. The flowers are small and most often white, less often (in mountainous areas) reddish or red. Fruits are oblong, break up in a mature state into two sickle-shaped fruitlets. Blooms from May to June (July). It occurs in Central and Eastern Europe – in meadows, pastures, along roadsides, slopes and embankments. Define carefully: can be confused with other poisonous umbrellas! For medicinal purposes, cumin comes from cultivated plantations.
Collection and preparation. The fruits are harvested as soon as they turn brown, from July to September. Umbrellas are cut and hung out for ripening in a ventilated place. When the fruits are dry, they are shaken off the umbrellas and after a short drying they are stored in bags or boxes. The essential oil is obtained from freshly picked and crushed fruits by steam distillation.
active substances. The most important active substance of cumin is an essential oil, which consists of limonene, carveol, dihydrocarvone and to a large extent (sometimes 60%) carvone. The content of the latter in pharmaceutical raw materials ranges from 3 to 1%. The German Pharmacopoeia requires that its content be at least 4%. In addition, we must mention fatty oil, carbohydrates, protein, some tannins, flavonoids and resin.
Healing action and application. Cumin fruit is the best vegetable carminative (a remedy for flatulence) of all that we have. By this they won a strong position in medicine. Cumin can be found in countless herbal products, but it is also prescribed simply as a tea without any additives. The German National Health Service speaks very positively about cumin, suggesting its use for “a feeling of fullness, flatulence and mild spastic disorders of the gastrointestinal activity, for diseases in the heart and stomach, for digestive disorders in infants.”
- Cumin tea: pour 1/4 liter of boiling water over 1 teaspoon with the top of crushed fruits and strain after 10 minutes. Tea is good to drink warm, in small sips. Quickly eliminates swelling and spasms of the digestive tract. For infants, dilute with boiled water in a ratio of 1: 1.
Use as a condiment.Cumin is a very healthy spice that should not be discarded. Unfortunately, many do not like its taste, but this is traditionally associated with its incorrect use. Whole cumin fruits in baked goods, cabbage, fried potatoes, or salads can spoil the taste of food if they get on the tooth and are chewed. Ground cumin in fresh bread, salads, and fried potatoes interferes much less and is readily eaten. And for the preparation of hot sauerkraut dishes, which only by adding cumin and become healthy, we can recommend a special bag. Before cooking, cumin in a bag is placed in cabbage, changing its position from time to time, and after cooking, they are taken out, and the cabbage is well mixed. In this case, cumin seeds will not irritate when eating, and the healing power of cumin will be used. Cumin is one of the oldest spices in the world. It promotes the absorption of fats and improves the function of the gallbladder, and its peculiar taste is combined with almost all dishes, since it does not interrupt their taste; however, he does not allow other aromatic additives – except for pepper. An excellent seasoning mixture for all types of cheese can be obtained by grinding pepper, cumin and table salt in equal parts. Speaking of spices, it will also be necessary to mention cumin (Cuminum cyminum L., pharmaceutical raw material: Cumini fructus) – a possible descendant of ordinary cumin. Originating from Asia and spreading to the Mediterranean, it is used there – and later in Germany – as a seasoning. Cumin has a more tart and less palatable flavor and when mixed with cayenne pepper makes a good seasoning for minced meats. Some curries also contain cumin.
Application in folk medicine.In folk medicine, cumin is highly revered as a gastric remedy (and to stimulate appetite), as a remedy for colic, diseases of the gallbladder and liver, and also for coughs. It is used as a tea (as described above), dried fruits are chewed, or cumin powder is taken several times – as much as will fit on the tip of a knife. Its use is also very common as a sedative for small babies – perhaps because of the carminative effect, since flatulence is often a cause of concern in infants and small babies. There is no remedy, according to traditional medicine, for painful menstruation in young girls, than cumin tea. A bag of cumin, carefully heated on a stove, is readily used by the people for applying to a sore spot for toothache and headaches.
Side effects. Cumin is harmless. However, overdose, like any medicine containing an essential oil, should be avoided.