Cumin.1Cumin (Cuminum cyminum), is a culinary herb native to India and the Mediterranean. In Ayurvedic medicine, it is known primarily as a digestive herb, able to treat poor appetite, vomiting, diarrhoea and abdominal distension.

Cumin has been used since ancient times. The Ancient Egyptians used it both as a spice and a preservative. It has been used for thousands of years and is even mentioned in the Bible! Although sometimes confused with Caraway, Cumin has a lovely warming aroma due its high essential oil content and is excellent for improving circulation.


Cumin is currently being researched for a variety of applications; investigations have shown beneficial effects on blood pressure, insomnia/sleeping disorders and digestive issues. Cumin is able to increase nitric oxide (a potent vasodilator), to reduce blood pressure, as well as influencing cellular communication to exert anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.[1]

Cumin  has anti-diabetic activity – it is able to reduce blood sugar levels without causing hypoglycaemia whilst aiding secretion of insulin by the pancreatic beta cells.[2]

In addition, Cumin has also been shown to have antimicrobial effects, demonstrating a cytotoxic effect on many types of bacteria and other types of micro-organisms, including the yeast, Candida. [3]

Culinary uses

Cumin is an ideal spice to use in many recipes. It can be used in combination with other herbs and spices to use as a meat rub, and combined in a marinade or sauce. It can be used in spicy soups, and is a must for all kinds of other spicy foods like chilli con-carne or other Mexican-like cuisine. It can also be used to flavour rice, quinoa or cous-cous.


[1] Kalaivani, P et al. Cuminum cyminum, a dietary spice, attenuates hypertension via endothelial nitric oxide synthase and NO pathway in renovascular hypertensive rats.Clin Exp Hypertens. 2013;35(7):534-42

[2]Patil, S.B et al. Insulinotropic and β-cell protective action of cuminaldehyde, cuminol and an inhibitor isolated from Cuminum cyminum in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats. Br J Nutr. 2013 Oct;110(8):1434-43

[3] Wanner, J et al. Chemical composition and antimicrobial activity of cumin oil (Cuminum cyminum, Apiaceae).Nat Prod Commun. 2010 Sep;5(9):1355-8