Benefits of Cumin
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By Dr. Mercola
The popular spice cumin has a long history of medicinal use. It has been
used to treat various symptoms including diarrhea, flatulence,
gynecological, and respiratory diseases. But a new study looked at a
different effect of cumin -- its ability to enhance memory and relieve
Daily administration of cumin to rats inhibited stress-induced urinary
biochemical changes. Memory and cognition, as determined by acquisition,
retention, and recovery in the rats, was also observed to be enhanced by
According to the study, as reported by Green Med Info:
“This study provides scientific support for the antistress, antioxidant,
and memory-enhancing activities of cumin extract and substantiates that
its traditional use as a culinary spice in foods is beneficial and
scientific in combating stress and related disorders.”
Biology July 2011; 49(7): 702-708
Green Med Info
Dr. Mercola's Comments:
Every time you flavor your meals with herbs or spices you are upgrading
the nutrient content of your food without adding a single calorie. You
are taking something ordinary and turning it into something
extraordinary by adding color, flavor, vitamins, and often medicinal
Cumin (not to be confused with curcumin, the active ingredient in the
spice turmeric), is a common household spice that historically has been
used to treat symptoms such as:
However, more recent research into the health effects of this spice
suggests its benefits go far beyond that.
Cumin May Enhance Memory and Help Reduce Stress
According to a recent animal study published in July 2011, cumin appears
to have anti-stress properties. Rats were given cumin daily, at doses of
100, 200, and 300 mg/kg body weight, one hour before being stressed. The
results showed that the cumin inhibited stress-induced biochemical
changes in a dose-dependent manner. Memory and cognition were also found
to be dose-dependent.
The authors concluded that:
"This study provides scientific support for the anti-stress,
antioxidant, and memory-enhancing activities of cumin extract and
substantiates that its traditional use as a culinary spice in foods is
beneficial and scientific in combating stress and related disorders."
The antioxidant activity of cumin was also evaluated in a 2009 study,
which found that the spice (along with others, such as caraway,
coriander, dill and fennel) was far more potent than vitamin C (ascorbic
The Many Health Benefits of Cumin
Cumin May Be Helpful for Diabetics
Two health benefits that may be of particular interest to a majority of
people are its anti-diabetic and anti-asthmatic effects. In one 2010
study, black cumin seeds were found to improve glycemic control in
patients with type 2 diabetes. Here, the seeds were used in conjunction
with regular anti-diabetic medications. Nintety-four patients were
randomly divided into three groups receiving different doses of the
cumin seeds; either one, two, or three grams per day, for three months.
The group receiving two grams of cumin seeds per day saw the greatest
improvement, reducing their blood glucose by an average of 62 mg/dl at
eight weeks. The lower- and higher-dose groups also experienced
reductions in blood glucose, but none as great as those receiving the
two gram/day dose. The authors concluded that:
"The results of this study indicate that a dose of 2 gm/ day of Nigella
sativa might be a beneficial adjuvant to oral hypoglycemic agents in
type 2 diabetic patients."
A study published earlier this year concluded that black cumin's
anti-diabetic effects appear to be rooted in its ability to improve
Another common spice of particular interest to diabetics is cinnamon,
which also has "insulin-like" effects. For example, just half a teaspoon
of cinnamon a day has been shown to significantly reduce blood sugar
levels, triglycerides, LDL (bad) cholesterol, and total cholesterol
levels in people with type 2 diabetes. In another earlier study,
cinnamon was found to increase glucose metabolism 20-fold! Many believe
it's a very viable contender in the fight against diabetes.
Cumin has Potent Anti-Asthma Effects
A number of studies have also indicated that cumin may be helpful for
asthmatics. Here are three of the most recent studies confirming cumin's
1.Black cumin seeds and its oils have historically been used to treat
respiratory diseases, including asthma. In one study, thymoquinone (TQ),
one of the primary active ingredients in cumin seeds, was found to be
instrumental, by reducing two inflammatory mediators of asthma and other
2.Another study from last year confirmed the anti-asthmatic effect of
black cumin seeds, showing it acts as a bronchodilator. Here, the
researchers used a boiled extract of the cumin seeds.
3.According to research published in 2009, black cumin seeds also act as
a relaxant, and display both anticholinergic (reducing spasms in smooth
muscle) and antihistaminic (blocking allergic reactions) effects. In
this study, the thymoquinone (TQ) in black cumin seeds was found to be
superior to the asthma drug fluticasone (a synthetic glucocorticoid)!
General Health Benefits of Herbs and Spices—A Little Can Go a Long Way!
It may be helpful to know that herbs and spices are actually some of the
most potent antioxidants in your food supply; in many instances
surpassing other more well-known sources of antioxidants. For example,
spices such as cloves and cinnamon have phenol levels that are 30
percent and 18 percent of dry weight, respectively. Compare that to
blueberries, which are widely touted for their antioxidant capabilities;
they contain roughly five percent phenol by dry weight...
Another example is oregano, which has 42 times more antioxidant activity
than apples, 30 times more than potatoes, 12 times more than oranges,
and four times more than blueberries! One tablespoon of fresh oregano
contains the same antioxidant activity as one medium-sized apple. I
personally love oregano and grow it in my garden every year, as it is a
perennial plant and faithfully comes back. It is easy to harvest in late
summer and fall, and dehydrate and store for future use.
While each spice has a unique set of health benefits to offer, one
study, published in the Journal of Medicinal Foods, found a direct
correlation between the antioxidant phenol content and the spice's
ability to inhibit glycation and the formation of AGE compounds, making
them potent preventers of heart disease and premature aging.
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