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Carum copticum

Carum copticum


No documentation.

Vernacular Name

Ajwain, yavani, ptychotis ajowan, kannada ajamoda, sinhala asamodagam.


Carum copticum is a small, erect, flowering shrub of the family Apiaceae. Usually growing no more than 1m in height, C. copticum is supported by its stiff, woody stem which is typically glabrous, but can occasionally have minute pubescence. The stems branch heavily in a striation pattern. The thin leaves of C. copticum are distant from one another, pinnately divided, with each section growing from 1cm to 2.5cm in length. In its native habitat, C. copticum blooms between the months of November and March, producing small, white flowers. The flowers exist in terminal compound umbels which can grow to be up to 4cm across. The seeds of C. copticum are strongly fragrant and packed into small, light brown seed pods, which themselves are often mistaken for the seeds. The small seeds inside the pod are dark brown and usually no more than 2mm in diameter.

Origin / Habitat

Carum copticum, or Ajwain, most likely has origins in the Mediteranian area and Egypt. Presently the small amount of cultivation that is done is done in India.

Chemical Constituents

Mainly thymol, with p-cymene, dipentene, alpha and beta pinene, t-terpinene, camphene, myrcene, beta-3-carneen, limonene, carvacrol. Contains the glycocide 6-0-Beta-D glucopyranosyloxythymol, as well as palmitic pertoselenic oleic and linoleic acids. [3][4][5] 

The ajwan-ka-phul extracted from Ajwain is almost identical to thymol extracted from Thymus vulgaris. [1] Vitamins include calcium, carotene, chromium, cobalt, copper, iodine, iron, manganese, nicotinic acid, phosphorus, riboflavin, thiamin, and zinc. 

Plant Part Used


Also known as Yavani, the medicinal part of this plant is a seed-like fruit that is quite often confused with many other seeds and spices (i.e. celery seed, caraway, etc…) because when dried it resembles an oval, gray seed.

Traditional Use

Ajwain (sometimes translated as Ajowan) was initially known for its pungent nature and used as a spice. In Ayurvedic medicine, its primary use is that of an anti-tussive or an expectorant. Additionally, the Ajwain fruit has anti-flatulent properties as well as anti-arthritic effects. It is also known for its ability to assist in digestion. [6] While it mollifies the vata and kapha doshas, it also stimulates the pitta dosha. Its rasa, or taste, has been classified as Katu (pungent) and Tikta (bitter). Ajwain is also thought to have a heating effect on the mind/body. [1]


3-6 g powder, 126 mg extract. [2]



Often used as a spice, C. copticum is known in modern medicine for its bronchodilatory effects, and has been used in the treatment of asthma. In one study, researchers compared the effects of an extract of the herb with both placebo and theophylline in treating asthmatic patients. By measuring the pulmonary functional tests (PFT) of the subjects at regular intervals, the researchers were able to conclude that C. copticum was as effective as the theophylline and more effective than the placebo. [7] 

The anti-tussive properties of C. copticum have been reported in pre-clinical settings. One animal study suggested that C. copticum was more powerful than Codeine in this respect and that these properties were not related to carvracol, a constituent of C. copticum previously thought to be responsible for its anti-tussive properties. [8] 

Other pre-clinical studies have indicated that C. copticum may have antihypertensive effects as well as analgesic properties as it has been identified as an opiod. [9][10] C. copticum may also possess some anti-diabetic properties. 


No documentation.

Interaction and Depletions

Interaction with other Herbs

No documentation.

Interaction with Drugs

Based on pharmacology, Ajwain may interfere with diabetic therapy and with medications for hyper and hypotension. [8]

Precautions and Contraindications

Side effects

No documentation.


There are no reported precautions, however as with all herbs, this herb should not be used with children or pregnant/nursing women.

Age limitation

No documentation.

Adverse reaction

No documentation.


  1. Nadkarni AK, Indian Materia Medica, Volume 1. 3rd Edition. Bombay: Popular Prakashan Pvt. Ltd;1982.692.
  2. Kapoor, LD. CRC Handbook of Ayurvedic Medicinal Plants. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press; 1990.102.
  3. Dehghan Abkenar S, Yamini Y, Shemirani F, Assadi Y.Solid phase microextraction with gas chromatography-mass spectrometry: a very rapid method for identification of volatile organic compounds emitted by Carum copticum. Nat Prod Res. 20Jul2006 ;20(9):850-859.
  4. Gersbach PV, Reddy N. Non-invasive localization of thymol accumulation in Carum copticum (Apiaceae) fruits by chemical shift selective magnetic resonance imaging. Ann Bot (Lond). Aug2002;90(2):253-257.
  5. Ishikawa T, Sega Y, Kitajima J.Water-soluble constituents of ajowan. Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo). Jul2001;49(7):840-844.
  6. Tahraoui A, El-Hilaly J, Israili ZH, Lyoussi B.Ethnopharmacological survey of plants used in the traditional treatment of hypertension and diabetes in south-eastern Morocco (Errachidia province). J Ethnopharmacol. 1Mar2007;110(1):105-117.
  7. Boskbady MH, Alizadeh M, Jahanbin B, Bronchodilatory effect of Carum copticum in airways of asthmatic patients. Therapie. Jan-Feb2007;62(1): 23-29.
  8. Boskabady MH, Jandaghi P, Kiani S, Hasanzadeh L., Antitussive effect of Carum copticum in guinea pigs. J Ehtnopharmacol. 10Feb2005; 97(1): 79-82.
  9. Gilani AH, Jabeen Q, Ghayur MN, Janbaz KH, Akhtar MS. Studies on the antihypertensive, antispasmodic, bronchodilator and hepatoprotective activities of the Carum copticum seed extract. J Enthopharmacol. 8Apr2005; 98(1-2): 127-135.
  10. Dashti-Rahmatabadi MH, Hejazia SH, Morshedi, A, Rafati A. The analgesic effect of Carum copticum extract and morphine on phasic pain in mice. J Ehtnopharmacol. 19Jan2007; 109(2): 226-228.

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