Black caraway or black cumin is one of the oldest herb medicines that have been used to make medicines for as long as 2000 years. In Ayurveda it has been described as one of the best medicine for gastric ailments and hence named Udgarshodhan. It has proven to be a wonder remedy for belching. In Arabic culture it has also been called Habbatul barakah meaning seed of blessing. It is an immunity booster. It finds a special place in all traditional medicine be it Ayurveda, Chinese medicine or Egyptian medicine.
Black cumin if used in moderation regularly has shown marvellous results for the gastrointestinal troubles. It helps and cures indigestion and diarrhoea. Its seeds are excellent source of dietary fibres. Active principles in the cumin may augment the motility of GIT as well as aid in the digestive power by increasing gut enzyme secretion. It is believed to have anti-asthmatic, anti-oxidant, anti-flatulent, carminative and anti-carcinogenic property. It is beneficial for diabetes mellitus as it is effective in insulin sensitivity. It also has antimicrobial and antifungal properties. It also lowers cholesterol, helps in maintaining weight, fights against cancer and is also used for menstrual problems. It has also proved beneficial for haemorrhoids and halitosis (bad breath).
Black caraway has insecticidal and vermifuge properties. It can terminate lice and intestinal recurring worms.
- To prevent recurring intestinal worms’ 2 gram black cumin should be consumed twice a day along with honey for 15 days.
- For lice black cumin oil can be applied on the scalp before washing hair.
Black caraway has wide range of uses which are as follows.
- Flatulence colic: Caraway is an aromatic carminative used as caraway water (arka) in the flatulent colic of infants and children.
- Haemorrhoids: The kwath/decoction prepared out of this are used for giving fomentation in inflammation of haemorrhoids.
- Fever: In irregular fever it is given with equal quantity of gud (jaggery).
- Halitosis: The seeds because of fragrance are chewed as deodorant and mouth freshener in halitosis or else mouthwash or gargles of its cold infusion is also beneficial.
- Loss of appetite: It is a keen stimulant for digestive system and is used with great benefit to improve the appetite and taste.
- Gastro intestinal troubles: It alleviates flatulence, dyspepsia, diarrhoea and vomiting.
- Puerperal fever: Caraway is benevolent (helpful) as a galactagogue for nursing mothers and is also useful in puerperal fever (fever after delivery).
- Postpartum use: In combination with few other drugs a decoction of seeds is given in postpartum period, as it is said to stimulate uterine contraction.
- Type 2 diabetes: Daily intake of 2 gram of black caraway reduces blood sugar levels and decreases insulin resistance.
- Epilepsy: Black cumin seeds taken daily have proved to show anticonvulsive properties.
- Black cumin should not be consumed more than 6gms at a time else it can cause aggravation of pitta dosha and hyperacidity.
- If you are pregnant you should consult your doctor as it has been reported that if black cumin is consumed in large doses it may induce abortion.
- Parts used: Seeds
- Dose: 1-3 grams
- Formulations: jirakadiarishth (fermented decoction),Hingwastak powder
- Hindi name: Syah jira (स्याह जीरा)
- Sanskrit Name: Krishan jirak (कृष्णज़ीरा)
- Ras (रस): Katu (कटु)
- Vipaka (विपाक): Tiksan (तीक्ष्ण)(pungent)
- Virya (वीर्य): Ushn (उष्ण)
- Guna (गुण): Laghu (लघु) & Ruksh (रुक्ष)
- Doshkarm (pharmacological action): Kaphavatashamak (कफ़वातशामक)
Modern scientific explanation
- English name: Black caraway
- Botanical name: Carum bulbocastanum
- Cumaldehyde present in black caraway has antimicrobial and antifungal properties.
- It is rich in essential oils carvone and carvacrol.
- Thymoquinone present in caraway causes apoptosis or cell death which is the reason it is quite useful in treatment of cancers.
- Its extracts have proven to be possessing anti-histaminic properties and hence it is useful in treatment of asthma.
- It also possesses anti-inflammatory properties and hence it is useful for treatment of sore throat.
- Thymoquinone is the active compound in caraway and has proven to be beneficial in Parkinsonism, radiation damage control, psoriasis and morphine de-addiction.