Cumin: Botanical Medicine for Digestive Health

Cumin: Botanical Medicine for Digestive Health, image of cumin on a table

A popular spice for cuisine and medicinal healing in many parts of the world, cumin (Cuminum cyminum) is robust with a nutty, peppery flavor that packs a little zing for the senses. From the moment that a food rich in cumin enters your mouth, it activates the salivary glands which initiates the digestive process. It is no wonder why it is used to address digestive concerns in botanical medicine.

Medicinally, cumin is categorized as a carminative (which means to reduce gas) and has been used to ease flatulence, bloating, and digestive distress.

Current research shows that cumin’s beneficial effects may be due to the spice’s ability to stimulate the secretion of pancreatic enzymes-necessary for proper digestion and the assimilation of nutrients from food. Cumin also contains flavonoids and antioxidants which are beneficial to overall health.

For the most medicinal benefit, you may want to consider buying whole cumin seeds that you grind with a mortar and pestle. Packaged cumin powder is a more convenient option but do check the packaging details to ensure you are getting a fresh product. If you opt for whole seeds, these will keep for a year when stored in a cool, dark place. Cumin powder should be used within six months. One final tip! For enhanced flavor, roast cumin seeds before using them.

Note: Curcumin and Cumin are not the same. Curcumin is the active ingredient in turmeric-a rhizome that’s a member of the ginger family. Curcumin, when used medicinally, is primarily an anti-inflammatory agent that has numerous uses in natural medicine.


Healthy Eating | SF Gate. “Curcumin Vs. Cumin.” Accessed March 27, 2022.

Agah, S., et al. “Cumin Extract for Symptom Control in Patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome: A Case Series.” Middle East Journal of Digestive Diseases 5, no. 4 (October 2013): 217–22.

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