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Cuminum cyminum


Cuminum cyminum

[span class=alert]In regards to the Traditional Use and Therapeutic Action sections of Essential Oils, the oils are rated as is standard practice in the French school of aromatherapy and others. The ratings ranked from one (+) to four (++++) with four indicating the highest value, indicate the oil’s therapeutic value from a practicing clinician’s point of view. The French rating system mentioned are obtained from this book reference entitle ‘Les Cahiers Pratiques D'Aromatherapie Selon L'Ecole Francaise’ (Authors: Francine Baudry, Pascal Debauche & Dominique Baudoux). However, further clarification might be required and will be updated once additional information of the rating system is obtained.[/span]

Family Name


Genus Name


Vernacular Name

Cumin, kemun, kemoun, jira, jeera, faux anise

Original Habitat

This grassy plant grows in areas such as Central Europe, Iran, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.[1] The flowers are white and pink and the essential oil is derived from the fruit (seed). The plant is rarely found in the wild but is commercially cultivated in the Middle East. Cumin cannot tolerate shade and needs well drained soil.

Plant Part Used

Fruit (seed)


Most products containing Cumin do not contain the essential oil but rather the herb in powder or shaken form. It is sometimes used in body care products at a maximum of 4% but only in products that are washed off of the skin such as soaps.[2] The essential oil of C. cyminum is used in therapeutic formulations in aromatherapy.


The thin oil is steam distilled from the seeds of the plant. It is light to medium yellow in colour and has a strong, spicy aroma.

Chemical Constituents

Terpenes: Beta-pinene (15-20%), paracymene (10%)
Alpha-terpinene (15-25%)
Terpenic Aldehydes: P-mentha 1.3  diene 7 al (5-15%)
Aromatic aldehydes: Cuminal (20-35%) [3][4][5][6]

Medicinal Uses

Sedative, stupefacient (in high doses) +++
Tonic and digestive stimulant, carminative +++
Anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic ++ 

 Antibacterial[7]- Using the hydrodistillation extraction process, researchers examined the antibacterial activity of cumin essential oil. The results showed positive results against gram+/- bacteria, therefore, illustrating the potential role in controlling bacterial diseases.[3] When shown against other essential oils, C. cyminum showed good effects against bacteria.[8]

Antidiabetic- An animal study used a chemical constituent from the essential oil of C. cyminum against lens aldose reductase and alpha-glucosidase. The results showed an inhibitory effect against both lens aldose reductase and alpha-glucosidase, although not as strongly as quercetin or acarbose. Researchers believe this compound will be useful in developing anti-diabetic therapies in the future.[9]

Bronchodilator- A recent study showed bronchodilator effects in guinea pig tracheas chains using the oil of Cuminum cyminum.[1]

Anticonvulsant- C. cyminum was used in seizure-induced mice to measure the potential anticonvulsant activity. The results were positive, and furthermore, this essential oil could cause sedation and motor skills could be impaired.[10] An additional study demonstrated that extracellular application of C. cyminum oil decreased the frequency of epileptiform activity induced by pentylenetetrazol in mollusk.[11] An animal model examined the effects of C. cyminum in seizure induced mice and demonstrated protective effects and also sedative properties.[12]  

Traditional Use

Flatulence, aerophagia, dyspepsia, slow digestion +++
Insomnia, nervosity ++
Hypothyroidism ++
Osteoarthritis, rheumatism, painful joints ++

Dental Health- Shown to have both antimicrobial and antibiofilm activities, the essential oil of C. cyminum may have promise in the prevention of cavities and gingivitis.[13]

 Pain- Following the traditional use for toothache, Cumin oil demonstrated some analgesic effects in mice subjected to various pain stimuli.[14]

Contraindications and Precautions

This essential oil is an irritant- do not apply directly onto the skin.

The oil is phototoxic.[2]

Not to be used by pregnant or nursing women. 



[span class=alert]Keep out of reach of children as oils are highly concentrated.Essential oils are irritating to the eyes.  Avoid contact with eye area.Always dilute essential oils with carrier oil, lotion, cream or gel even when using in diffuser or bath.Essential oils are sometimes prescribed to be used internally, but should only be used internally under professional supervision.[/span]

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  1) Botanical Info


  1. Boskabady MH, et al. Relaxant effect of Cuminum cyminum on guinea pig tracheal chains and its possible mechanism(s). Ind J Pharmacol. Dec2005;37(2):111-115.
  2. Tisserand R, Balacs T. Essential oil safety.UK:Churchill Livingston Press; 2006.
  3. Lacobellis NS. Antibacterial activity of Cuminum cyminum L. and Carum carvi L. essential oils. J Agric Food Chem. 12 Jan2005;53(1):57-61.
  4. Derakhshan S. Effect of subinhibitory concentrations of cumin (Cuminum cyminum L.) seed essential oil and alcoholic extract on the morphology, capsule expression and urease activity of Klebsiella pneumoniae. Int J Antimicrob Agents. Nov2008;32(5):432-436.
  5. Latif G, Davood Y, Mohammad BR, Masood T, Shakiba AA and Iraj R. Chemical and biological characteristics of Cuminum cyminum and Rosmarinus officinalis essential oils. Food Chemistry. 2007;102(3):898-904.
  6. Hemavathey J, Prabhakar JV. Lipid composition of cumin (Cuminum cyminum L.) seeds. Journal of Food Science. 53(5):1578-1579.
  7. Shetty RS, Singhal RS, Kulkarni PR. Antimicrobial properties of cumin. Journal World Journal of Microbiology and Biotechnology. March1994;1:2.
  8. Singh G. Studies on essential oils: part 10; antibacterial activity of volatile oils of some spices. Phytother Res. Nov2002;16(7):680-682.
  9. Lee HS. Cuminaldehyde: aldose reductase and alpha-glucosidase inhibitor derived from Cuminum cyminum L. seeds. J Agric Food Chem. 6 Apr2005;53(7):2446-2450.
  10. Sayyah M, et al. Anticonvulsant effect of the fruit essential oil of Cuminum cyminum in mice. Pharma Biol. 2002;40(6):478-480.
  11. Janahmadia M, Niazia F, Danyalia S. Effects of the fruit essential oil of Cuminum cyminum Linn. (Apiaceae) on pentylenetetrazol-induced epileptiform activity in F1 neurones of Helix aspersa. Neuroscience Letters. 1 August2008;440(2):134-139.
  12. Mohammad S, Arash M, Mohammad K. Anticonvulsant effect of the fruit essential oil of Cuminum cyminum in mice. Pharmaceutical Biology. 2002;40(6):478-480.
  13. Shayegh S. Phytotherapeutic inhibition of supragingival dental plaque. Nat Prod Res. 20 Mar2008;22(5):428-439.
  14. Sayyah M, Peirovil A, Kamalinejad M. Anti-nociceptive effect of the fruit essential oil of Cuminum cyminum L. in rat. Iran. Biomed. J. 2002;6(4):141-145.

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