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Cumin Seed

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Cumin is botanically named as Cuminum cyminum, is a flowering plant in the family Apiaceae and genus Cuminum native from the east Mediterranean to East India. Its seeds, in ground form, are used in the cuisines of many different cultures. Cumin is the dried seed of the herb Cuminum cyminum, a member of the parsley family. The cumin plant grows to 30–50 cm (0.98–1.6 ft) tall and is harvested by hand. It is an herbaceous annual plant, with a slender branched stem 20–30 cm tall. The leaves are 5–10 cm long, pinnate or bipinnate, thread-like leaflets. The flowers are small, white or pink, and borne in umbels. The fruit is a lateral fusiform or ovoid achene 4–5 mm long, containing a single seed.
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Botanical Names
Cuminum cyminum
Indian Names
Sanskrit : Kushna Jeerak Hindi : Zira Marathi : Jeera Tamil : Shimai Shiragam Telugu : ShimaJilakan, Gujarati : Shah Jeerun Kannada : Jeerigay
Chemical Constituents
Cumin seed is a source of many essential vitamins as well as microelements. It provides vitamins such as Vitamin A, Vitamin B (riboflavin, niacin, folate), Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Vitamin E. It contains elements as calcium, phosphorous, manganese, sodium, potassium etc. Essential oils extracted from fruits of Cuminum cyminum when analyzed by gas chromatography (GC) and GC-mass spectrometry (MS), the main components of C. cyminum oil were found to be p-mentha-1,4-dien-7-al, cumin aldehyde, γ-terpinene, and β-pinene. The other components found out were Cuminal, cuminic alcohol, safranal p-cymene (1). The fruits contain 2.5 to 4% essential oil. In toasted cumin fruits, a large number of pyrazines has been identified as flavour compounds. Besides pyrazine and various alkyl derivatives (particularly, 2,5- and 2,6-dimethyl pyrazine), 2-alkoxy-3-alkylpyrazines seem to be the key compounds (2-ethoxy-3-isopropyl pyrazine, 2-methoxy-3-sec-butyl pyrazine, 2-methoxy-3-methyl pyrazine). Also a sulfur compound, 2-methylthio-3-isopropyl pyrazine, is also found.
Pesticide Limits
A limit for pesticide is one of the major issues in standardization of medicinal plants and products in view of the worldwide widespread use of pesticides in cultivated plants. The presence of pesticides in extracts increase the health risk by many folds. The pesticides can be extremely irritant on skin as well as in the internal organs, it is essential to monitor its concentration as a part of GMP. Various analytical methods for the quantitative determination of pesticides by gas chromatography coupled with mass-spectrophotometer are in use. Konark Research Foundation (KRF), a NABL certified lab is well equipped with the latest technology and instruments and monitors the pesticide limit as part of its GMP.
Chromatographic Profile
From the pharmacopoeial perspective, a better quality control of raw material can be achieved by specifying quantitative test procedure for the determination of the range or a minimum content of the active ingredient or marker substances. A chromatographic finger profile represents qualitative/ quantitative determination of various components present in a complex plant extract, irrespective whether or not their exact identity is known. Thin layer chromatographic technique is the simplest and least expensive method that provides plenty of information on the composition of raw herbs and its preparation. For quantitative analysis of active ingredients or marker substances with simultaneous separation and detection High Pressure liquid chromatography is the best technique. We use the latest model of HPLC for all its analysis.
Limits of Impurities
A test requirement for foreign organic matter would ensure the extent of contamination of extraneous matters such as filth and other parts of botanicals not covered by the definition of the herbal drug. Since sand and soil are predictable contaminants of botanicals, test requirements for ‘total ash’, water soluble ash’, ‘acid soluble ash’, residue on ignition and sulphated ash would be expected to limit such contaminants. Test requirement for heavy metals in botanical raw material are probably more relevant for parts of plants growing under ground than for the aerial parts of the plant. The presence of high levels of minerals interacts with the final product there by affecting its keeping quality.
Microbial Limits
If the raw herbs are to be used directly without boiling in water prior to consumption, restrictive limits on microbial contaminants are required for pathogens such as Salmonella sp. Enterobacter and E. coli which are causative agent for various gastrointestinal diseases. A lower level of yeasts and molds and a limit on total aerobes are considered appropriate in plant material for topical use. The presence of aflatoxins detected by chemical means is generally independent of the number of viable molds that are detected using microbiological methods. Aflatoxins in microgram quantity are capable of giving serious hypersensitivity reactions which can be extremely harmful to human health.
Pharmacology
Cumin seeds possess various beneficial activities. It is widely used in Ayurvedic medicine for the treatment of dyspepsia, diarrhea and jaundice. It also possesses anti diabetic, antibacterial and anticancer properties. Many spices and herbs are known to be hypoglycaemic in nature. Effect of C. cyminum supplementation on the plasma and tissue lipids has been studied in alloxan diabetic rats. Oral administration of C. cyminum to diabetic rats resulted in significant reduction in blood glucose and an increase in total haemoglobin and glycosylated haemoglobin. C. cyminum treatment also resulted in a significant reduction in plasma and tissue cholesterol, phospholipids, free fatty acids and triglycerides. Moreover, C. cyminum supplementation was found to be more effective than glibenclamide in the treatment of diabetes mellitus (2). Antibacterial activity of Cuminum cyminum oil was observed against Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacterial species. The activity was particularly high against the genera Clavibacter, Rhodococcus, Erwinia, Xanthomonas. These results suggest the potential use of the essential oils for the control of bacterial diseases (3). In the anticancer study of cumin seeds, cancer chemopreventive potentials of different doses of a cumin seed were evaluated against benzo(a)pyrene induced fore stomach tumorigenesis and 3-methylcholanthrene (MCA)-induced uterine cervix tumorigenesis. Results showed a significant inhibition of stomach tumor burden by cumin (4). Studies with extracts prepared from cumin (Cuminum cyminum) were undertaken for its ability to inhibit platelet aggregation. Ethereal extract of cumin seeds inhibited arachidonate-induced platelet aggregation. Extracts from this spice inhibited thromboxane B2 production from exogenous (14C) arachidonic acid (AA) in washed platelets.
Health Benefits
Cumin seeds used to soothe acute stomach problems. People in parts of South Asia commonly believe cumin seeds help with digestion. Some scientific evidence suggests cumin may aid digestion by stimulating pancreatic enzymes, compounds necessary for proper digestion and nutrient assimilation .Cumin seeds, are a very good source of iron, a mineral that plays many vital roles in the body. Cumin seeds have traditionally been noted to be of benefit to the digestive system (6). Cumin seeds may also have anti-carcinogenic properties. In one study, cumin has shown to protect laboratory animals from developing stomach or liver tumors. This cancer-protective effect may be due to cumin's potent free radical scavenging abilities as well as the ability it has shown to enhance the liver's detoxification enzymes. C. cyminum treatment also resulted in a significant reduction in plasma and tissue cholesterol, phospholipids, free fatty acids and triglycerides. Histological observations demonstrated significant fatty changes and inflammatory cell infiltrates in diabetic rat pancreas.
Research References
1. Rong L. Zi-Tao J. Chemical composition of the essential oil of Cuminum cyminum L. from China Flavour and Fragrance Journal 2004, 19(4):311–313 2. SURYA D., VIJAYAKUMAR R. S., SENTHILKUMAR R. and NALINI N. HYPOLIPIDEMIC EFFECT OF CUMINUM CYMINUM L. ON ALLOXAN-INDUCED DIABETIC RATS Pharmacological Research 2002, 46(3):251-255 3. Nicola S. I., Pietro L. C., Francesco C. and Felice S. Antibacterial Activity of Cuminum cyminum L. and Carum carvi L. Essential Oils Agric. Food Chem., 2005, 53 (1):57–61 4. Gagandeep; Sivanandhan D., Ester M., Agra R. R., Kathalupant K. Chemopreventive Effects of Cuminum cyminum in Chemically Induced Forestomach and Uterine Cervix Tumors in Murine Model Systems Nutrition and Cancer 2003 47(2):171 - 180 5. K.C. Srivastava Extracts from two frequently consumed spices Cumin (Cuminum cyminum) and turmeric (Curcuma longa) Inhibit platelet aggregation and alter eicosanoid biosynthesis in human blood platelets Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids 1989, 37(1):57-64 6. K.S. Muthamma Milan, Hemang D., Purnima K. T. and Prakash V. Enhancement of digestive enzymatic activity by cumin (Cuminum cyminum L.) and role of spent cumin as a bionutrient Food Chemistry 2008, 110(3):678-683 7. K. Aruna, R. Rukkumani, P. Suresh, and Venugopal P. M. Therapeutic role of Cuminum cyminum on ethanol and thermally oxidized sunflower oil induced toxicity Phytotherapy Research 2005, 19(5):416–421