Did you know Cumin was used in the ancient Egyptian mummification process? Marcus Antoninus 16th emperor of Rome was given a nickname that referenced the herb as someone miserly must have eaten cumin, and symbolized excessive desire. Pliny the Elder, a Roman naturalist who lived between 23 AD and 79 AD was said to have listed Cumin as “the best appetizer of all condiments.”
The history of Cumin goes back over 5000 years. from Iran and the Mediterranean. Cumin is a small seed that comes from the Cuminum cyminum herb, a member of the parsley family. This seed has a distinct flavor, and warm aroma. It is a major ingredient in chili powder as well as curry powder. According to the Bible, Cumin had such a powerful medicinal value that it could be used as money!
Cumin has an overpowering smell and should be used very sparingly. Yet it is considered non-toxic, non-irritant and non-sensitizing. It does have photo-toxic qualities, so it should not be used when the skin will be exposed to sunlight. Photosensitization, and photo-toxicity can occur when certain essential oils react when exposed to Ultraviolet UVA light. Inflammation, blistering, and reddening/burning of the skin are common.
Cumin is useful as a warming oil and helps relieve muscular pains and osteoarthritis. In the digestive system, it is a stimulant that helps with colic, dyspepsia, flatulence, bloating and indigestion. For the nervous system, it is a tonic, and has a beneficial effect on headaches, migraines, and nervous exhaustion.